Over at the Huffington Post, Monica Erdinger is pleading with folks to "Stop Calling Books for Kids 'Young Adult'." In the article, she notes that NPR was challenged by readers who submitted nominations of children's books to their 100 Best Ever Teen Novels and addressed them in a statement explaining why those books didn't make the cut*. I often find that well-meaning adults (even teachers!) confuse "middle grade" (aka children's) and "young adult" literature. Why is that? And why, if something is a classic (I'm looking at you, Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) do people seem to get especially confused? Those are children's classics. They are not for teens. Yes, they are awesome. For children.
But it goes both ways! I just weeded my library's fiction collection and found myself wondering what to do with books like Anna Karenina and Frankenstein. Yes, they are beloved classics. No, that does not make them appropriate for a middle school library! Can we stop all of this confusion?!?! Just because a book is beloved, does not mean it is intended for all audiences. Certainly, there's no problem with anyone reading whatever they want, whenever they want**, but if we're going to classify books - and as a librarian, I feel it my professional duty to do so - then here's the rule:
If the intended audience is aged 8-12, it is a middle grade or children's book.
If the intended audience is aged 12-18, it is a young adult or teen book.
If the intended audience is aged 18+, it is an adult book.
Can we agree on this?
*Though can we talk about how books like The Giver, Stargirl and Betsy-Tacy made the list? These are not for teens. These are middle grade novels, intended for (and read by) children ages 8-12.
**Exercise your right to read! Hey, I read VC Andrews in middle school, but there's NO WAY I'd call those books "middle grade" or even "young adult."
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