Young Adult Literature

Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.

From Using Young Adult Literature in the English Classroom by John H. Bushman and Kay Parks Bushman


 “I don’t want to analyze authors. I want to enjoy them. I want the boys in class to enjoy their books because of what’s in them…Youth, I believe, should not analyze its enjoyments. It should live. Criticism is the province of age, not youth. They’ll get to that soon enough. Let them build up a friendship with the written word first.”

   --Robert Frost


Definition of Young Adult Literature: Young adult Literature has many common characteristics: Conflicts are often consistent with the young adult’s experience, themes are of interest to young people, protagonists and most characters are young adults, and the language parallels the language of young people.


--any book freely chosen for reading by someone in this age group is called young adult literature—


Lifetime developmental tasks that confront adolescents:  According to Erikson (1963) the major developmental tasks that confront teenagers are the formulation, and reformulation of a personal identity. 

· Achieving new and more mature relations with age mates

· Achieving a proper masculine or feminine social role

· Adapting to physical changes and using the body effectively

· Achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults

· Preparing for marriage and family

· Preparing for an economic career

· Acquiring a personal ideology or value system

· Achieving social responsibility


Piaget and Cognitive Development


    Young adults become more independent in their thinking.  They can think logically, classify, and show relationships.  The real world is extremely important to these young people.  Their thinking revolves around immediate and concrete objects rather than concepts and abstractions.

    During this time, adolescents are able to apply logical operations to all classes of pr0oblems.  It is during this final stage that abstract thinking prevails.  Adolescents are able to reason about abstract propositions, objects, or concepts that they have not directly experienced.  At this time, young people are able to hypothesize and use deductive and inductive reasoning.