I came across a couple of blogs recently complaining about the lack of differentiation between YA (Young Adult) and Children’s books. Something I know too well since I’ve just won a YA award with a book written for Upper Middle Grade (is there an upper and lower MG?).
But does it really matter?
There’s a big debate in this country (UK) about not labeling too prescriptively. Walk into a big book store and you’ll see the children’s sections set out under labels like 5-7, 7-9, 9-12, 12+, etc.
‘As soon as you put a label like this on a book, you limit its appeal. You rule it out for large numbers of potential readers. Without entering into an elaborate discussion about how we judge books and decide on their quality, I believe it’s possible to say that virtually all the best children’s books tend to appeal to a wide age range. In fact, most good children’s books have adult appeal. This is because there are, in the best books, hints and implications that more mature readers particularly appreciate’ Jeff Hynds.
As an author, does one set out to write a book for an 8 year old? Agreed, the age of the protagonist is a clue, but then, the only real difference between an adult and a children’s book is the sort of world the protagonist is exposed to, (an 8 year old can’t pop on a plane to Spain) and consequently the psychological reactions one is writing about. Many of us, as authors, find that limitation quite liberating.
Though some people might want the warnings, it is irksome when someone feels the content of a middle grade novel too ‘difficult’ for children, re-categorizing for an older audience. So, the argument is that, by labeling, you are limiting. If it says 9 and up, a twelve year old sees it as a book for nine year olds. So naturally. I am not a big fan.
Kids need a bit of credit.
But the counter argument is that if someone doesn’t play gatekeeper, all sorts of stuff can slip under the radar.
Take a look at this list and see what you think.
10 YA Books that Scarred Us for Life
Not my list by the way!!
Rhys A Jones