Reading Teen Fiction

Over the years, I’ve read quite a lot of teen fiction, or young adult fiction and immensely enjoyed it. There are so many gems in the genre, and some amazing writers.

Whilst studying English literature at undergraduate level, I discovered that there was some dissent to even considering teen fiction as literature.

There seems to be a stigma around reading teen fiction, about perhaps the way it is not considered literary enough for it be anything noteworthy. I have personally never understood this concept.

Literary fiction implies that the novel that is published under this name is somehow superior. The Oxford Dictionary describes literary as “Concerning the writing, study, or content of literature, especially of the kind valued for quality of form.” Quality of form implies that it is a well-written piece, or it is valued for it’s form, and it’s use of language, perhaps over the plot of the writing. This could also be seen as marking ‘literary fiction’ as a superior writing genre, as it is ‘quality of form’. It could could also imply that the person writing in this genre is somehow better than someone working in teen fiction, or even children’s fiction.

I’m curious as to why that is. Is there a certain aspect of teen fiction that doesn’t meet a certain criteria? Is there an element of classism that makes it not literary?

Classism wouldn’t be hard to rule out, if it is viewed as not literary, then that implies a substandard. That only ‘real’ readers will reader literary works, and that the ease of access of teen fiction or the aim at younger reading implies that there can not be a literary concept to teen fiction. The ease of access implies that anyone can read it, whereas if it were considered literary, it could imply that it is inaccessible to ‘normal’ readers.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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