Why Incorporate YA Literature into the Classroom?

3 min read

| By Sarah Robertson |

A genre of fiction geared toward preteen and teen readers, young adult (YA) literature explores the experiences and challenges of coming of age. Themes in YA literature include young love, identity, social conflicts, and family relationships, all explored through the unique lenses of young protagonists. Straddling the realm between fiction for children and fiction for adults, YA literature is as diverse as its young readers.

With themes and characters that often resonate with students more than those found in the traditional literary canon, YA literature can be invaluable in the classroom and in encouraging students to become lifelong readers. Educators constantly struggle to get students to read, but YA literature makes reading more attractive by providing students with a world they recognize. The characters in YA novels are not remote adults dealing with the distant troubles of adulthood; they are mirrors reflecting the anxieties of their young readers. With YA novels, reading becomes not a dreaded chore but a process of self-discovery and entertainment.

Incorporating YA literature into a curriculum gives students the opportunity to experience the joy of reading by breaking down the barriers students often encounter in traditional works, including characters, time periods, and subject matter that are foreign to them. Through teaching YA literature in the classroom, students can discover why reading fiction is important: to become more tolerant and open minded, to find characters to relate to, and to be challenged with conflicts or ideas outside of their realm of experience. Teaching YA literature sets students up for a lifetime of success as readers.

Rather than regarding literature meant for preteens and teens as inherently unscholarly, we should respect teen readers’ inclination to read about problems that relate to them and the challenges they face. Instead of asking students to only read works originally written for adults, it’s time to treat literature written for young adults with the same scholarly care and respect as the classics.

Gale is pleased to announce the first young adult-focused installment in the Novels for Students series, Novels for Students, volume 62, which features YA works from various cultures and time periods. Novels for Students, volume 62 includes novels by Becky Albertalli, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Kwame Alexander, J. K. Rowling, and Suzanne Collins, among others. We invite you to delve into the magical world of Harry Potter, experience the pressures of growing up in a Mexican American home in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, or grapple with cultural identity in Darius the Great Is Not Okay. Featuring these works and more, Novels for Students, volume 62 offers a sweeping survey of YA literature to make incorporating the genre into the classroom seamless.


Novels for Students, volume 62 is available in print or eBook format on Gale eBooks.

Meet the Author

Sarah Robertson is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor to For Students.


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