Lately around twitter, there has been some discussion about the different age demographics in the YA book community. If you’ve been online then you’ve probably seen that there is a mix of many different age groups in our community.
This is fantastic of course! I’m happy that YA touches so many people at any point in their life. However, some complications are also evident.
Firstly, although YA can appeal to a lot of different age groups, it’s written for people age 12-18/13-17, basically the teenagers in our society. Why? Well, because YA often revolves around certain themes that the typical teen is battling with or pondering about, such as sexuality, racism, bullying, popularity, familial hardship, drug and alcohol abuse, first love, etc.
Like I said before, it’s great that these books can still appeal to those outside of the YA age bracket – the more, the merrier. But it’s important to remember the target audience. Have you ever read a YA book review by an adult reader who claimed the protagonist was childish, immature, etc.? They may think so because, hey, they’re not a teenager anymore! It’s entirely possible that the main character is childish, even to teens. However, I like to take those kinds of criticisms with a grain of salt. If I were to read the typical middle grade book right now, I would probably think it’s immature because it’s not meant for me.
Secondly, how many teens do you actually see in the online community? Sure, teens may be reading the books, but who do you mostly see blogging, bookstagramming, etc.? Who do you see with the most followers/subscribers? In my experience, mostly 20-30 year-olds. I’m actually legitimately shocked when I find a 15/16/17 year old reader online. Again, why? The way I see it, money and time. These aren’t the only factors, of course, but they are big ones.
You see, us teens aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. Sure, we have “financial stability” of some sort, seeing as we’re under the protection of our parents for the most part. However, we can’t afford to buy 10 books a month, or tons of bookish box subscriptions, or a bunch of decorations for the bookstagram aesthetic, or a premium blogging platform. Teens also don’t have a whole lot of time. As my good friend Mia said to me, “Teens have to go to school 7-8 hours a day, and spend 4-6 hours on homework, extracurricular activities, and so on. No matter how much we wanted to there’s no way we could take pictures on a daily basis and post several times a day.” Some of us even have jobs(or social lives!) It’s a lot to balance.
I love this community with all my heart, but it can often be dominated by adult voices, which is unfortunate, seeing as there are so many teens out there that want to share. It’s really important to boost teen voices!
Lastly, try to remember to make this community a safe place for teens to interact with each other. Protect teens. Boost teens. Follow teen bookstagrams, or book twitters, or blogs. I get genuinely excited to find blogs run by people may age, instead of people that are 20+. If you want to teach a teen something, do it nicely. I’m not saying that teenagers should get a free pass to do whatever we want but remember that we are still young and we still have a lot to learn.
I feel like a broken record but I really want to emphasize that this community is so great because we have so many different perspectives. And not just in terms of age, but I’m seeing more and more marginalized readers being boosted, which makes my little heart happy! So if you’re an adult reading this, know that I do value you, and I definitely think you have a place in this community. Just remember who it’s for.
This discussion feels a little short, but I really want to hear what you guys think about this. YA is still a relatively new genre and is trying to find its perfect place in the book community.
How do you think age plays a role in the YA community? Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? Do you have any teen bloggers that you love/want to promote? PLEASE leave them in the comments so we can all check them out! 🙂
P.S. This post was inspired by Cat’s post about the misbehaving community. It’s a great read and I definitely recommend checking it out!