I’ve been an active member of the Twitter young adult book community for about a year now. And in that year, I’ve noticed something surprising: adults dominate the community. More significantly, voices of adults are taken more seriously and lifted more than those of teens. They drown out teens’ concerns, thoughts, reviews, you name it.
I thought about this again when I read this post by Kit at Let The Pages Reign last week. So many teenagers have expressed discomfort or even hatred of the YA community and what its become. Another post along the same lines by Tatiana at AfroBoricua Reads can be found here.
And although I’ve found a home here, it’s mostly among other aspiring writers. As a teen myself (though I’m, like, a grandma teen), I still feel disconnected from others in the community. Which isn’t as big an issue for me personally, but I’m concerned about teens and friends who aren’t wholly comfortable in the YA community.
Adults have shown teenagers that their voices in the YA community do not matter WHEN THEY MATTER MORE THAN ANYBODY ELSE’S VOICES.
Young adult novels shape teens. They are what teenagers choose to read. Writing for new generations is an honor, not a privilege.
Young adult writers and reviewers need to stop taking the voices of the teenagers in the YA community for granted.
So, if you’re wondering how to support teens, take it from me and the teens I talked to to create this post. We want to be in this community with adults, and are totally fine with adults being in the conversation. We welcome your voices as well. But adults shouldn’t be making all the decisions and saying everything in a genre created for teens.
Here are some ways to create a more inclusive community for teens. I hope this post and the resources and action steps outlined below help. Articles written by teens are bolded, and direct quotations from teenagers are included. If you have any questions, concerns, or something to add to this evolving post, I welcome your input (you can be anonymous). Especially if you’re a marginalized teen: I want to especially listen to and highlight your voice. Feel free to comment or talk to me on Twitter @SierraWritesYA.
Now, let’s get to work.
Before I start making my points, I want to highlight two recent posts by teens that cover some topics discussed in this post along with other thoughts. These posts are:
- Jordz the Bibliophile: The Role of Age in the YA Community
- Kit at Let The Pages Reign: How to Support and Protect Teens on YA Platforms
1. FOLLOW TEENS ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND BLOGGING PLATFORMS.
This is the easiest step, as it only requires the click of a button and listening skills. Following teen bloggers, booktubers, writers, and reviewers gives you insight into their thoughts about young adult literature. More importantly, this supports the platforms they are building. By following, liking, and retweeting their work, you are boosting the next generation of voices.
Do you have to follow every teen in the YA community who you come across? No. And some teens may not be comfortable with adults following them, which should be respected (this point is further addressed in “additional steps.”) But the YA community needs to make more serious efforts to listen to the concerns and be guided by the interests of teenagers, which starts with following their platforms and engaging with the amazing content they create. The new generation is full of some amazing, enthusiastic, creative teens. We should feel honored to share the YA community with them. We should feel honored to write about them.
- Following also entails respecting teen spaces. Don’t patronize or infantilize teenagers in online spaces just because they’re young. Teens aren’t foolish just because they have less life experience than adults.
- If a teen unfollows you or doesn’t follow you back, it’s at your discretion to continue to follow them. If a teen soft blocks you, don’t be offended. They may not be comfortable with you or other adults following them.
- The safety of teenagers is the primary concern when engaging with them, which includes respecting when a teenager doesn’t want to talk to you.
- More specifically, if you’ve attempted to engage with a teen multiple times and they show zero interest with speaking with you, I’d recommend unfollowing them. They’re likely uncomfortable with your presence or simply don’t want to interact with you. Neither is a wrong feeling. Respect boundaries.
- Make special effort to follow, listen to, and boost the voices of marginalized teenagers. Marginalization can apply to the following aspects of life, and potentially others: racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability including mental illness, religion, and economic status. These teens face special challenges in their lives both off- and online, and need as much external support as we can give them.
- In addition to teens, also branch out to college-age voices (18-24, though it’s important to remember that everybody this age isn’t in college). These are also people who were JUST teenagers and, in the case of eighteen and nineteen-year-olds, still fall within that demographic, though they likely hold different viewpoints and have different priorities than teenagers 13-17.
- Let the Pages Reign: List of Teens in YA
- Laura Peowski: Where Are All the Teens: Engaging and Empowering Them Online (I can’t find a free version of this article, but you may be able to access it through this link and your local library)
- What Can Kids Do, Inc: A Guide to Creating Teen-Adult Conversations in Your Community (this is a longer resource more geared toward in-person communities, but some guidelines can be adapted for online spaces as well)
2. SUPPORT TEENAGERS AND OFFER YOURSELF AS A RESOURCE. ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF DISTRESS.
I’m sick of seeing teenagers, especially marginalized teenagers, who receive the bulk of hatred and abuse, be chased off social media for expressing opinions, messing up, and…what, exactly? I have yet to see a valid reason behind abuse so severe a teenager feels the need to delete social media accounts. For some, these platforms can be their only source of support.
You want to be an adult in the YA community? GREAT. Be an adult known for helping teenagers. This is the area where teenagers need the most support. If you read no other part of this post (don’t blame you, it’s a long one), read this. Please.
- When teenagers are being harassed, HELP THEM. ESPECIALLY show up for marginalized teens. I see people are more apt to show up for white, straight teens than those who look like me. We need to be way more aware of this and actively dismantle this double standard. Make sure that all teens have support when having problems, and make sure they are safe. This can be done in a number of ways. Always remember to not compromise your own safety unless you’re comfortable with doing so. Call on another adult friend, if necessary, for assistance.
- Reporting harassment. Social media platforms can really, really bad at removing harmful posts or abusive users, but just do it. Sometimes it can make a difference. If you don’t try, you won’t know. You can also ask the @YALitSOS account for direct assistance.
- @ing them or direct messaging them with support. Whether that support is a simple “thank you for writing this” or “I learned something from your words” or a more direct “DM me if you need support.” These words can mean the world to somebody in distress. If they are considering leaving a platform, offer them your email address or another personal point of contact. DMing in these cases is only recommended if you’re mutuals or have interacted before, since they’re likely locking down on direct messages, avoiding mentions, and/or aren’t trying to talk to strangers while strangers are harassing them.
- Check in. Harassment and bullying are draining. Make sure the teen in question is okay without necessarily smothering them, and be careful about the advice you give. Ask if they’re eating, if they need additional physical or emotional support, if their parents or guardians know about what’s happening. Take special care to drop in on teens of color who bear the brunt of online abuse, and mentally ill teens. Harassment can trigger mental illness to a point where basic care is difficult. Again, if a teen doesn’t want this type of support, it’s not your place to automatically decide to be their guardian. As with all interactions with teens, stay within their boundaries and be careful.
- Contribute to their Patreon/buy them a book/contribute to their Ko-Fi. Being harassed online is Not Fun, and if you appreciate the work a teen is putting into a community, consider rewarding them for labor that is unpaid.
- Follow them and support their content. This goes back to the point I said above: we need to support what teens are doing in this community. One of the best times to do that is during a storm, so they see people who love and support their actions amidst hatred.
- If a teenager asks you to step back from defending them, do it. Sadly, sometimes defense can lead to more harassment. If this is a teen’s experience, ask them if they would like you to take down any quote tweets/reblogs/response videos.
- If you witness a teen making a mistake, very seriously consider the severity of the mistake as well as the largeness of your platform. Determine if a public call out is truly necessary, and attempt to make call outs private as much as possible while not compromising your own safety and mental health. Teenagers will screw up. They should be held accountable for their actions, but it’s seldom necessary to put that accountability in a public arena. Remember, you didn’t roll out of the womb woke and completely unproblematic. You’re still not. It isn’t that hard to determine who is willing to do better and who’s, well, a stubborn bonehead. That last sentiment very much applies to adults as well. Consider DMing a teen to talk to them or requesting to DM them rather than public chastising. This has to be considered on a case by case basis and, let’s face it, the block button can be your best friend if they’re just not getting your point or don’t care. But, uh, speaking of blocking…
- YA AUTHORS: STOP BLOCKING TEENAGERS JUST BECAUSE YOU GET CALLED OUT. This is happening WAY too many times. You’ve hurt the people whose lives you should be working to improve. At least own up to your mistakes, apologize, and them, idk, mute? Unfollow? I’m not sure why this grosses me out so much, but it does. Obviously it’s a completely different story if a teenager is actively harassing you, but, in most of the cases I’ve seen, that isn’t the case. I’m tired of seeing teenagers be subtweeted and blocked and unfollowed after expressing an opinion by the people who pledged to help them. Of course, adults can carve out their own online spaces as well and interact with whoever they want to interact with. But let’s face it, this is a disturbing trend that deserves some special consideration.
- Crash Override Online Harassment Resource Center
- Ashe Dryden: You Asked – How Do I Deal With Online Harassment? How Do I Help The Targets of Online Harassment?
- Speak Up and Stay Safe(r): A Guide to Protecting Yourself from Online Harassment
- Me: Thread about performative allyship and listening to teen voices
- Aimee L. Salter: Have No Fear, You’re Safe Here (Aimee is wonderful, and she’s opened herself up as a resource to teenagers who want to ask questions, even non-publicly.)
3. SHOW TEENS THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE.
Teenagers don’t feel respected by the adults in the YA community. Many teens I talked to expressed feeling condescended, talked down to, and belittled specifically because they are teens. Not because they’ve exhibited a lack of understanding or asked for help: because they are younger.
Respect for teens encompasses recognizing their autonomy and ability to make decisions about themselves and the media they choose to consume. Adults can guide the actions of teens and try to steer them the right way, but must ultimately accept that teens aren’t always going to act “correctly.” They still deserve the respect adults should be giving them, but fail to.
- Stop looking down on teenagers for being “too emotional” and whatnot. Yes, teenagers will mess up. Yes, teenagers will not be perfect. Yes, teenagers will be impulsive—rationality isn’t even fully developed until at least the age of twenty-five. No matter what, emotions caused by puberty and hormones are no reason to look down on this generation. This includes not automatically being angry when a teenager does something irrational in a book and labelling it as “juvenile” in reviews. I’m assuming those reviews are for other adults because teens are fine with other teens making mistakes. Also, adults don’t always make good decisions either. Wisdom may come with age, but that doesn’t make most over the age of eighteen Yoda. I see more adults act a fool online than teens. Just saying.
- Don’t underestimate the knowledge or abilities of teenagers. Several beta readers for Death by Society told me my main character’s language was too developed for a teenager or my characters act too mature. Uh. I was eighteen/nineteen at the time, and my characters are sixteen/seventeen. The language in question had been in my vocabulary for years at that point. And vocabulary is just the tip of the iceberg. This issue isn’t limited to people’s notions of traditional modes of intelligence (excelling at school, eloquence, etc). Teens’ creative abilities/artistic skills and handling life’s hurdles are challenged by adults as well. Listen. Teens juggle extracurricular activities, academics and struggling with at least one subject, personal hobbies, jobs, a social life, family obligations, and other things I am likely forgetting. We got this.
- Ask teens for their help. YA authors, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your audience! Many of us are happy to tell you that we don’t sit around with our friends reminiscing to ’80s music all the time (authors, I love you, but please. Enough. People born in the 2000’s aren’t going to constantly listen to ABBA). If you have teenagers at home or as relatives, ask them or their friends to be honest about your manuscript, if they’re up for it! If not, as I said, your audience is here for you, because they want accurate representation of how teenagers act as well. How you approach your audience is best left up to you, but it’s possible to do this without looking like a lecherous creep wanting to know what the youths are up to. You can further this step by hiring marginalized teenagers to be sensitivity readers, as they have a unique perspective as both teens and people who have experienced these things.
- Listen to what teens are saying. I’ve seen teen concerns be drowned out, but as soon as an adult blogger or writer says the same thing or retweets it, the issue receives a lot of attention. This isn’t always a bad thing; remember, I said to boost teen voices when possible! But it’s also like…are adults listening when teenagers say The Thing the first time? Or does it take intervention from an adult to intervene? These are interesting questions, ones I don’t claim to have the answers to, but we should think about this more!
- Authors: be more willing to engage with a teen audience. YA authors are more apt to talk to other adults than with a teen audience. This varies from author to author. Authors, this is something to note—if you can’t respond to everybody in your mentions or don’t have the energy to, consider talking to teens about your books before adults. It sucks when you want to interact with your favorite authors and get crickets back. This applies to direct mentions only, by the way. I know some authors search for their own names (heck, I would), but it can be uncomfortable when an author thanks you for a review they weren’t supposed to know existed. Teens, and reviewers in general, set those boundaries for a reason. But if a teen is @ing you with love for your book, they want you to see their words. Please be more open to listening.
- Don’t police what teens read. Listen. In middle school, me and my friends experienced bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, physical and sexual abuse, homelessness, parental negligence, self-harm, and more. So, yes, a lot of YA readers are mature enough to read our own generation’s stories. Censorship and clutching pearls over character behavior isn’t helping teens in the least.
- On the opposite hand, don’t belittle lower YA or middle grade novels and readers. Heavier topics simply aren’t interesting to some readers! The literature created by middle grade and lower YA readers is still magical and beautiful and raw and real. Even though I write about topics like mental illness, suicide, sexuality, and violence, some of my favorite novels are so full of light that they practically radiate sunlight. (Though, it should be said that “younger” stories can be equally as dark as their older counterparts. Teens go through a lot.)
Thoughts from Teens
- “So often it feels like we can’t make mistakes and have to be perfect. There’s an expectation to be 100% adult or you don’t belong. When we do speak out about something important to us re: YA, adult voices are then considered more important than ours. Even though YA is for us!” —Lucy at Queen of Contemporary
- “I feel there was a lot of pressure for the younger readers and bloggers to grow up faster and be “more mature” to be respected. But that might not be just in the community but also just a general thing, ’cause I’ve been a heavy reader since I was 10/11 and that made *everyone* expect me to behave more mature compared to my peers. But that still applies to me, the person who literally just turned twenty.” —Baillie at Duckie Reads
- “I always feel that YA events are catered for adults. I want to go to an event as a teen and not be excluded as I’m too young. I find it frustrating as events are being held for YA books but young adults can’t attend. Obviously this isn’t for all and it’s fine to have adult only YA events but sometimes it does feel exclusive.” —Megan at Probability Reading
- “My biggest thing would be interaction! Authors in the YA community are great at engaging with each other, but I rarely see them do it with teens. I LOVE the authors in the community so much and respect them, but I wish I could interact with them more. Not to say that I haven’t. I have, and it’s been nothing but amazing when I have, I just wish it FELT easier. It can be intimidating to do so (maybe that’s just me though). I would like a bit more outreach, because these authors are the best and I’d love to chat with them more! It can be freaking terrifying to talk to an author you admire, so if they were to reach out to you, that would be so uplifting to us teens. And I’m not saying they should approach us first, because they’re busy and that’s probably be asking too much! Maybe a way to get to them easier? That’s what community is for and it’s not the best when the targeted audience is nervous to say anything.” —Zac at Of Bleeding Pens and Pages
- “As a teen book blogger, I’d love it if adults stopped telling us that we’re too young or immature to be reading what we read. I’ve had it happen to me and one of my best friends and it’s pretty offensive.” —Erika at Books With Cats
- “I’ve had really great experiences in the YA community and felt really welcome but the one thing I have noticed is the lack of teens at events. I think it’s harder for teens to attend events because they might feel excluded.” —Liv at Liv’s Wonderful Escape
- “I love chatting with authors, but one of the things I notice is they mainly only chat with other adults. And when they realize I’m a teen, they get super weird. I’d prefer they just talk to me like a human being. And while some bloggers become ‘friends’ or at least acquaintances of authors, I feel like I can’t form meaningful relationships with them. And while I’m not a pro blogger by any means, I have been doing this for 5 years now. I feel like there’s an underlying tone of ‘oh, she’s just a kid’ even though I’ve been in the community longer than some adults.” —Isabel at Tween 2 Teen Books
- Literary Abstractions: The Unspoken Ageism In YA
- The Truth About Teens: Teenagers Aren’t Stupid
- Isabel Song: Why More Adults Need to Value Teenage Voices
- Finding Joy: Why Teenagers Are Amazing
4. BOOST TEEN VOICES.
Supporting the next generation of writers, reviewers, and creatives is important. These are the people who are going to create the stories we read someday, even now. There are so many talented teen content creators out there! We don’t want our actions, or even lack of action, to stamp out their sparks before they can burn as brightly as possible.
- Repost teens’ blog posts, writing, art, and educational threads on your social media accounts. Either quote tweeting to add your thoughts/give leg up or simply sharing are fine. While sharing, be careful to always center the teens’ voices and opinions, not your own. It’s okay to add to a blog post or comment, of course. Use this guideline at your own discretion, because, really, it means different things at different times.
- When sharing reviews of a specific book or sharing opinions on a YA community-related topic, look to posts created by teens before adults.The YA community is for teens, so their voices need to be at the forefront.
- Respect teen writers. The “they have no experience!” argument is no longer valid. The books written by teens that I’ve read this past year are gorgeous, hilarious, heartbreaking, and easily on par with those of adults. The teens I know who are querying have written several novels and waited until they were ready. They’ve earned the right to be respected as serious writers. I myself have written seriously for around ten years now.
- Publicists and authors: Make sure teen reviewers and booktubers have access to ARCs. Especially teens that share the marginalization of main characters. If you’re a YA author, target ARC and hardcover giveaways specifically for teen bloggers. Teens having access to books is a HUGE economic issue. Let’s face it, a lot of teenagers, if they’re even able to obtain a job, are working minimum wage. Not to mention the limited hours because of school, extracurriculars, and having a social life. This doesn’t leave a ton of money left for books, especially when you factor in varying socioeconomic levels. Aside from being a money issue, giveaways like these would help level the blogging playing field and give teen bloggers more chances to blog. Ensuring that more advanced reader copies fall in teen hands is a win-win situation: teens are getting titles they may not have been able to afford otherwise, and your books are sent directly to the target audience. This would also help teens build their blog and social media platforms, which allows them to influence more teens, which leads to more sales.
Thoughts from Teens
- “I would suggest refraining from ever telling a teen ‘oh you’re young you don’t understand yet’ when they’re talking about their stance on a particular issue.” —Jessi at BiblioJessi
- “I’d like to see more teens accepted into pitch contests and such because they’re usually afraid of putting themselves and work out there for not being adults.” —Bethany Stevenson at Bethany Stevenson
- “Unless a teen can both afford a conference and have parents willing to take them, they can’t go to events with bigger authors. This limits a lot of opportunities to meet industry professionals for teens, professionals who often won’t give us the time of day if we could go.” —Isabel at Tween 2 Teen Books
- “I suggest (as a teen blogger myself) to authors and pubs that we teens don’t have the time and resources like older bloggers do! I’ve met many authors who love interacting with teens like me and understand our situations. Others don’t know that we cannot be rushed. Know that it takes a while for me to read your book because I’m juggling school, ACT, extracurriculars, concerts, and a whole lot more.” —LILBookLovers
- #TeenPit: A writing contest for teens
- Writer’s Block Party: Advice for Teen Writers
- PaperFury: Disgustingly Talented Teen Authors
- YALSA: Teen Space Guidelines (This resource was created for librarians, but some of the information about agency and space creation can be applied to social media as well.)
5. YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS: WRITE FOR TEENS. ACTUALLY WRITE FOR TEENS. NOT YOURSELF AS A TEENAGER.
Your active audience was born starting in January 1999. And that’s just for people being published in 2017. The world changes every year, and these changes need to be reflected in our fiction.
Some elements of the teen experience are timeless. Some aren’t, or change with the years, especially in our current, digital-first era. You need to consider these changes in your work. Cultivate a more youthful mindset when you’re writing. Pay attention to the culture teens are creating and the media they are consuming.
Above all, write YA with the needs and beliefs of teenagers in mind. It’s very easy for teenagers to tell when a YA author cares about creating the best work they can for teens and those who think YA is an “easy genre” or think it’s a trend. Respect the emotional and social intelligence of your readers.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to write teens who are “juvenile” or “naive.” Teenagers grow and learn and make mistakes. That reality needs to be reflected in fiction.
- Rather than focusing on trends, write about the core, timeless elements of the teenage experience. Draw from your own adolescence and adapt it for Generation Z (the generation coming after mine, the broke avocado toast eaters. Although generation lines are difficult to draw, and someone my age is considered both Gen Z and a Millennial. Weird. Anyway!). An easy-ish way to do that is by focusing on your character’s emotional arc, which is at the heart of the YA genre and what makes it such a fascinating one. Make that the core of your novel rather than any gimmicks.
- Avoid slang at all costs. I am begging you. This is both so your book can have a longer shelf life and so your teen readers won’t make fun of you for saying “my homework is on fleek.” (Listen, you may laugh, but I see incorrect usage of slang and AAVE all the time in fiction.)
- Don’t put down teens in your novel. An example is better than an explanation for this topic, so, here we go. In my novel Death by Society, I flip around and poke fun at lots of tropes. One of these tropes is Kelsey, my blonde, popular mean girl. My main character, Carter, doesn’t make fun of just for being girlier than her or being more into partying. She respects her as a person (or, at least as much as she can while absolutely hating what Kelsey has done to Carter). What I’m trying to say here is that we’re all tired of the girls hating other girls just to hate them and similar tropes. Dig deeper. There’s a lot of girl hate and toxic friendships in my novel, yes, but there is purpose and motivation behind everybody’s cruelty.
- Make sure the actions of your teenagers and the consequences of those actions are realistic. Teenagers aren’t the only people in YA. There are also parents, teachers, and the school administration. How will authority figures affect your fictional teens? What are the consequences of ditching class? What are the policies in place for school bullying? What does a realistic intervention look like?
- Have your characters reflect our world. This includes diversity in race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical health, and more. Not all of these types of diversity will fit within your writing at all times, and you won’t always get it right. It’s impossible to be 100% right in any depiction. But I encourage you to try, for your teen readers, because it’s a powerful thing to see your reality reflected in fiction. To know that an author has your needs in mind and is bringing you and your friends to life. Strive to create thoughtful, nuanced characters who could easily appear in real life. The point of diversity is to reflect the world that teens live in instead of reverting to stereotypes and defaults that are unrealistic. Writing becomes richer when it reflects reality.
Thoughts from Teens
- “I feel like a lot of times the YA books that are more adult/have more adult themes become more popular. I’m a big fan of MG/Young YA and I feel like those books never get much attention. I don’t know if this is due to adults in the community but probably. There’s also often a real push against “immature” behavior in characters. I’ve also noticed that when it comes to people who interact in the community…there’s a real divide between adults/teens. I’d be happy to interact and talk with many adult bloggers but that just…doesn’t happen. I also think publishers need to work harder on using actual teens to promote, but it does make sense that they go where the page views are.” —Tamara at Tamaraniac
- “Every time an adult is like, This is what teens like to read’ and I comment saying that me and my friends never liked this in books, they always get defensive like they know what teens want but an actual teenager doesn’t.” —D.K. at Dreaming of YA Books
- “We want to be respected as ACTUAL authors. Basically, I’ve worked with CPs, and as soon as I might mention my age, they start shooting me basic info, like show don’t tell, here’s how to plot, and etc. Despite already maybe reading a page or query, they just always have this urge to ‘mommy’ me, and not respect my work for anything except maybe a younger kids’ first draft…which it’s not. We don’t need to be overly praised or overly cut down. Just because we’re less adulty in some of our writing and may have a slightly younger voice doesn’t make it any more of a book than theirs.” —Bethany at Bethany Stevenson
- “In YA books, almost all the main characters behave irrationally and misbehave. Maybe it’s just me, but I want more goodie-two-shoes characters. Characters who always do their homework. And I feel like, especially in more paranormal books, that the characters often aren’t portrayed as intelligent. They hate school and skip it for magic missions. I want a character who finds out she’s a fairy but still insists on doing her calculus homework. I’m taking calculus as a junior in high school. I want more YA characters who try to achieve great things in and out of the classroom.” —Isabel at Tween 2 Teen Books
- “If authors try to tackle real issues teens face, they have to be careful in how they go about it. The result could either been really great or really awful based on how they portray it. For example, I hate it when in books a boy treats a girl horribly but keeps apologizing and they keep getting back together. I’m usually all for forgiveness (especially in cute YA novels) but sometimes there has to be a line drawn. Teens, girls especially, need to be shown that just because a boy apologizes and you forgive them doesn’t mean you have to, or should date them again.” —Courtney at Buried In A Bookshelf
- “Almost every YA book that I read is REALLY clean compared to how most teens talk. While I make an effort not to curse at all, many teens, especially older ones, curse to the moon and back. While I’m not quite advocating for more cursing in books, authors need to realize that they don’t need to be careful with their teens’ ears.” —Isabel at Tween 2 Teen Books
- “Many books feature teens who love books/music/movies published 20+ years ago. While we occasionally read/listen to/watch that material, it’s not what many teens do for fun. Speaking from my own experience, teens watch Marvel movies, read modern books, and listen to the latest pop song more than they listen to their parent’s favorite songs from the 80s. When authors write about a teen’s interests, they often seem to be inserting themselves more than actually thinking about what their character would like.” —Isabel at Tween 2 Teen Books
- Sarah LaPolla: Writing for the 21st Century
- The Atlantic: The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors
- Writing With Color: Resources
- AKA Jacqueline: On Writing for Teenagers and Forgiving Your Teenage Self
- Thinking Through Our Fingers: How To Keep Good Parents Out of Your Main Character’s Hair
- Google: It’s Lit – A Guide to What Teens Think Is Cool (Aside from the title’s questionable usage of slang, this is a good resource because it comes from direct surveys asked to teenagers. Approach this resource with caution, though.)
Some of you are already doing the work, especially women of color, and I salute you for actively striving to create safer spaces for teens online.
But to the majority of the YA community: we’ve got a long way to go to make the young adult community a space for all teenagers to grow and thrive. We have an amazing opportunity to create change in our online spaces.
Don’t let these chances go to waste.
Teens: if your blog posts and/or thoughts are in this article and you would like them taken down, you can ask me to do so at any time.