The Role of Age in the YA Community | A Discussion

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, would probably think it’s immature because it’s not meant for me.

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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! 

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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! 🙂

Stay bookish,

Jordyn

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!

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25 thoughts on “The Role of Age in the YA Community | A Discussion

  1. When I was searching on book bloggers vs booktubers, I read that most teen readers use YouTube as their platform and the blogosphere is dominated by adults. I don’t think I follow loads of teen bloggers because I’m not really considering age when I follow bloggers, and most of the teen bloggers I know are around 17-19 (including myself).

    Also, sometimes I get concerned when I read a YA novel whose protagonist I disliked. It makes me feel old lol and after reading your post, I thought “am i too old for YA?” I agree with your point that the main character could really be immature even for teens though. Great post!

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  2. I definitely agree with this WHOLE post. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you’re and adult you can still read YA. But it IS geared towards teens, and I wish I found more. I think I know maybe 6 teens INCLUDING me? That just makes me sad 😦 Anyways, lovely discussion and I’m so happy I found another teen my age! Just followed you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I have seen some of these discussions around the blogosphere and I agree for sure that it’s important to boost teens voices, as they are the target audience for sure. I also know that, at times, whenever I read a book, the protagonist might feel too childish for me, but in my review I just state this as a lack of connection and don’t use these kind of arguments because I know other teens might relate to the characters more because they are younger than I am. (I’m 23, by the way). Sure, if books are marketed and directed towards a certain age category, they are not reduced to this category, which is why so many adults read young adult books as well. The most important thing definitely is to keep on valuing teens’ voices and opinions in this community.
    Also, there is just something I want to add about your arguments on adults vs. teens being able to read the books. I completely agree that adults may have more money to get subscription boxes and buy tons of books, means that teenagers don’t necessarily have – but I have to disagree on the time. If teenagers have school, homework, extracurricular, social lives and working lives even, at times, adults do have all of these things as well, except that school and homework are just, well, work all day long 🙂 No matter if you’re an adult or a teen reading young adult, this is a community of passionate people 🙂
    Sorry for the long comment ahah 🙂 Lovely post! 🙂

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  4. I agree with you a lot! I’m a teen blogger (I’m about to be a junior in high school), and it’s so hard for me to be “big” in the YA community because of time and money. I can’t read 100 books in a year, and when I have time, I have to do something else, like currently I’m focusing on studying for the ACT even in the summer! It is hard juggling everything from clubs to competitions to reading to blogging! I love the 20-30 year old demographic, but I get surprised when I find another teen, even another male! I wish there’s more emphasis on teens in the YA community and guys in the YA community!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree!!! I wish pubs realize that we teens give valuable advice since we’re the main audience… and yes, I always find myself behind the hype because I can’t get the latest craze! I don’t have a source of income! 😂 Aww thanks! 😊

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  5. As an adult YA lover, I am so happy to see teens speaking up about this in particular. It’s something I definitely noticed and I’m working to be better at it myself. I follow a few teens on wordpress and twitter, but I’m always looking to find more. I’m seriously impressed when I find those rare 15- to 17-year-old book bloggers. It takes a serious commitment to blog regularly and I wouldn’t have had the time or motivation at that age myself.

    This is just a suggestion, and maybe you’re not the right person for this, but I would love it if we could build a list of teen book bloggers so the rest of us can boost? Just a thought.

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      1. I’m so glad you found that list! I’ll definitely check it out!
        Also, thanks for such a lovely comment. I myself am really impressed when my fellow teens are able to balance so much in their lives and post consistently. It’s a lot, but it really is worth it!
        Thanks again!

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  6. As another teen blogger, I hate the fact that people think that adults shouldn’t read YA. I’ve read adult books before but I primarily read YA. I think the whole thing with labels being YA or Children or ETC should just go away. People should be able to read what they want to. For example, my mom works in a middle school so she knows a lot of middle school books. As long as she likes them, there’s really no problem. This article was amazing and was so thought out! I literally love this article and I agree with about everything that you said.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sometimes as an adult, I don’t feel valued at all. I often feel like some in the YA community have this idea that adults don’t belong at all, and shouldn’t be in the community. And I never forget that this community is for teens, but I also think that the teens need to remember that the adults in the community were once teenagers too. I have so many issues with the division in the community and don’t think there should be so much separation between the YA community and the adult community, at the end of the day, we’re all part of the same community. We’re people who love books, love reading them, and just want to share our love of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I don’t think there should be a super deep divide in the community between teens and adults, but I do think that that line should be acknowledged. In my opinion, it’s really important to remember the reason the community exists – because of teenagers. That YA books are a way for us to sort of grow into ourselves.
      I’m so sorry that you don’t feel valued in this community, because adults definitely serve their purpose and are always welcome. I just think that some teens want to feel heard in a community that was built for them. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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  8. I think it’s really important to keep in mind the age range the book is targeted at when leaving a review. I recently read a children’s book that was amazing. Yes, it had immature characters in but they were children.
    At the same time, I find the age range you mention interesting. To me a ‘young adult’ is someone aged 16-24. And so I would say that a YA book is aimed at 14-24 year olds. Anything younger than that is middle grade (8-14). To me anyway. But I definitely don’t think YA is only aimed at younger teens.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, target audience is definitely important when reviewing/rating a book!
      In terms of the age group, the range is flexible. I’ve seen it written in many different ways, but, the way I see it, though readers in their early-to-mid-twenties are “young adults” they’re not always the target audience for “young adult novels”. I think that’s what New Adult fiction is for. In my experience, most kids start reading YA at the end of middle school (13-14). But middle grade/young adult/adult can definitely overlap! There’s really no clear-cut definition for who reads YA – it’s an estimation more than anything.
      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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      1. One thing an author once told me is that you typically write the characters 2+ years older than your target readers, which is why you see so many older characters in YA. Many 16-year-olds don’t want to read about 14-year-olds, or so the theory goes. So I think this is where the age part can get confusing, since a lot of YA protagonists are 18, EVEN THOUGH the books are marketed towards the 13-18ish range.

        Great post, by the way! As an adult in the community (even though calling myself an adult still feels weird :P), my goal first and foremost is to make sure it’s a welcoming space for teen readers.

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