The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Is Your Son Ready for Young Adult fiction?

In the Junior Middle School Library fiction collection, about one third of the general fiction novels have a YA sticker.  This means the book has been deemed to be a novel suitable for a boy who is 12 to 18-years-old.

The YA sticker is a flag that the novel might centre on a mature storyline or contain swearing, violence, drug-use, or sexual experiences.  Some examples of this wide-ranging YA determination include the later Harry Potter books, Twilight, Hunger Games, One of Us is Lying, The Book Thief, Lord of the Flies, and Walking Dead.  To guide a boy's selection within the YA range, there are some clues in the blurb that Teacher Librarians Marie Grech and Lisa Crofts discuss with the boys to help them work out if a book is a good pick for them.

The age of the protagonist is always the first clue as to what the target audience of a story is; is the central character a 12 - 18-year-old?  Experience shows that teens like to read about a character that is a couple of years older than themselves.  In a series, often the protagonist will age along with its readers; that is why often the first couple of titles in a series are suitable for upper JS/lower MS, but as the character ages, so does the maturity of the storylines.

Another key factor is whose voice do we hear from within a story?  YA is authored by adults; is it an adult voice or a teen voice the reader hears?  Ideally, YA should have a teenage/young adult voice.  That teen voice tells us their attitudes and priorities, and all the things a younger character would tell us (for example they generally don't swear or talk about adult life choices).  As a result of that voice, a book's style is determined, and YA tends to be first/third person or present tense prose.

Finally, is the important aspect of theme.  YA themes can be just as mature as adult fiction and each reader has his own interests and preferences about those themes.  The pictures below shows our JML Graphic Novel collection which is divided into YA and non-YA books.  We also have a new 'Level-Up' permanent display for those mature Year 8 boys who are ready to be challenged by more adult fiction titles that they will find in the Senior School collection next year.  Our ebook/audiobooks available via Sora, also have age recommendations

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Just because a boy might be a fantastic reader, might not mean he is ready for YA novel content.  Or a boy might still be developing reading skills but wants to read about YA characters.  Choosing or not choosing a YA novel is a very individual choice but JML staff can provide support to boys and their parents in making the right choice.

Ms Marie Grech
Information and Research Specialist