In the 1930s, the American Library Association (ALA) created the Young People’s Reading Roundtable and a list of suggested children’s and adult novels. This was the first time that literature was marketed directly to teens. About thirty years later, in 1958, the term “young adult” came into being.
In 1967, S.E.Hinton’s “The Outsiders” changed the direction of YA literature and kicked off the first golden age of this genre. Plots, characters, and settings would become more adult. Since its publication, more than 15 million copies of “The Outsiders” have been sold. Judy Blume and Robert Cormier tackled tough teen issues in the 70s. “The Chocolate War” was about bullying and “Forever” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” dealt with growing up.
In the 1980s Francine Pascal created the “Sweet Valley High” series. With its publication the age of YA franchising is born. A TV show, a board game, and nine books are spun off from the series. The second golden age of YA literature comes about with the publication of the Harry Potter series. In 2005, Stephanie Meyer’s vampire romances find a huge fan base.
Diane Roback, a children’s book editor, says that kids are finding the Next Big Thing on their own. Whatever is on the horizon for YA literature will be dictated by the world teens live and the experiences they want to read about.