Post 5. What is YA Literature?



Ever thought about writing YA, or reading YA? Want to know what it is? Here are the essential elements that make a book fall under the format of young adult literature as inferred from Mertz and England 1983:

1. Most of these books involve having a young protagonist. Realistically, they’re usually between the ages of 13 and 18 so that we can relate to their later years in adolescence.

2. Point of View. Most of the times it’s written in such a way that you, the reader, are given the best advantage of feeling and empathizing what the character is going through. For example, right now I am reading “Period 8” by Chris Cructcher (which I will be doing a review on, by the way) and this story is told in 2nd person. It not only gives us insight into the main characters heads but those of other relative and pertinent characters. Most of these YA books, usually, will fall into 1st person, where as fantasy will fall into 3 person… normally.

3. In all, as we read these books, we’re not looking for static characters. We’re looking for round characters, characters who evolve, learn, and grow from their trials. Expect to see that in YA. Conflict is one of the biggest driving forces in these types of books.

4. Hence the high-stakes conflict, a huge life change is inevitable. It is uncommon for any YA protagonist to still remain the same after experiencing the turmoils and trials of adolescence and the many conundrums it offers.

5. Independence. We all know most people above the age of 13 want independence, so expect it in these YA books. Again, anything else is uncharacteristic. That doesn’t mean that the characters can’t be needy in some areas, but that overall, they are somewhat alone in and facing their problems.

6. Concerns from contemporary issues. Books today often face issues that we see in everyday life, from poverty, to abortion, to religion. All of these issues compromise the “conflicts” that challenge the young protagonist to learn and grow.

7. “You made your bed, you lie in it.” That’s right, the characters reap what they sew. If your favorite protag cheats on his girl, you better bet he’s going to have a hard time afterword facing all of the conflicts waiting for him on the other side. All actions have big repercussions.

8. Some fully developed characters. Most YA needs a well-rounded main characters along with 2 or 3 minor characters, also round, who can give depth and meaning to the work. Don’t expect to have parents who are highly involved, not at least in a good way.

As I continue to read YA, I know I’ll be looking for these elements. One, it’s a great tool for honing the writing craft, and two, it helps me to be mindful of what my readers are reading and dealing with in real life. It’s always important to be relevant, and that’s what YA books are… relevant; relatable.

Would you read YA? What are your thoughts on it? What are some other common elements in YA?


#YA #yalit #amreading #writerslife #ala

Post 4. What is Genre, Really?

Did you know that Paranormal Romance is not a genre? Nope, neither is Supernatural Horror. No, afraid not. Those are sub-genres or format. Here are your main genres: fiction and non-fiction.

Let’s break FICTION up a bit:

Realism: historical, realistic, modern, and contemporary.

Fantasy: Modern, traditional


And now let’s break up NON-FICTION:

Autobiographies, memoirs, biographies, infographics.

Here is an example of a genre and format: Contemporary Fiction – Paranormal Young Adult

Did you also know that libraries categorize their books by grouping them in their respective genres? I did, but not to the extent of really being mindful of it. While I believe it is useful to categorize libraries so that readers can easily find the type of books they enjoy, if you put Twilight with Romance (a format) instead of under Fantasy, you risk losing readers who would otherwise never look under the romance section. Same goes with a “Hunger Games” book. If you put it under Science Fiction and not under Action, you risk losing readers who do not like science fiction.

Personally, I would have the larger genres, but I am not fond of categorizing them by sub-genre or format. I want to make sure that young kids find a variety of books that they can explore and grow to love. However, I am on the side of having one or two showcase sections of a popular author and his/her entire works with an infographic, etc.

Would you classify libraries by genre? What are your thoughts?


#amreading #ala #writerslife #books


Post 3. Did you Know? The Anatomy of a Book…

Books can be quite complex… not just the characters within, but concerning the actual binding and making of a book. Each part of a book has a label. Getting to know these individual parts, such as the spine and casewrap, will help you appreciate their delicacy just a tad more. Complete with a gutter, headband, spine, block and endpaper, a book has it’s own little anatomy.

I think showing a diagram of the anatomy of a book in a school library will be both neat and intriguing to young minds, giving them a better appreciation of the books we so often encourage them to read and take care of. It might even spawn curiosity in the book publishing industry.

One thing is for certain, I know that I will showing a lot more love to my own books, as each part works together to complete that magic that is a book. I’ve already been particular picky with the treatment of my books, but now I can appreciate them and their uniqueness even more.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 12.14.05 PM.png

Here is a great article with pictures to show the complete complexity of book design.

Post 2. Age Ranges for Books: Broken Down

I love the Harry Potter books in this picture… anyway… to the point.

Have you ever wondered about the divisions for young people’s literature?

Here’s a quick break down:

Children books are for: ages 0-8 years. This means that children’s books are just the standard picture books. Books that fall under this genre include chapter books, as well.

Middle grade books… wait for it… are for: 8-12 years (Which is still elementary and intermediate school). That means that a book that falls under the middle-grade genre isn’t necessarily appropriate for middle schoolers, who range from 11-13 years of age.

YA (young adult) books are for: ages 13-18 and some of these books can be in middle schools while most of them are in high school.

New Adult: ages 18-30. Some of these can be found in high schools and are in public libraries, as well, as are all genre’s of books.

The key reflection on this is that not all books are so easily categorized. It’s pertinent to know the content and various recommendations, as well as reviews, on the work. As someone who will be reviewing books and reading them avidly, it helps me to think of how a “middle-grade” book might be more appropriate for a high school or elementary student. It will without a doubt cause me to analyze the work and appropriate students for whom the books would best fit with. Perhaps this could be something you consider the next time you pick up a novel or peruse a shelf in the YA section of your library…

#amreading #yalit #books #ala



Post 1. Eight Reasons to Share Literature with Children

Have you ever wondered why we share literature with children? The biggest reason for me is because… it’s fun! Secondly, it teaches them to read, write, and think better.

Other reasons people commonly share literature with children is because:

  1. It’s fun, as I’ve said. It’s fun judging covers and experiencing the excitement of a new story, as well as the camaraderie that comes from fellow readers.
  2. Acquisition of language. The more you read, the more fluent you become. That’s why it’s so important to start children yearly, even as early as kindergarten, that way, the English language, or other languages, become natural.
  3. One of the neatest things it does is create empathy and connections. It enables us to feel what others feel and to connect with those who have gone through similar situations. We learn from others who can relate, and from others things we’ve never experienced like situations with. This gives us compassion and a slower rate at which to judge others, if at all. It teaches us to think before we act.
  4. It supports life-long reading. Start them young, and you’ll likely find that it’s not difficult and they in-fact love to read. It’s no different than saving money for college when they’re a child. Either way, you’re preparing them for success.
  5. Next up is for philosophical reasons. Children can question just as much as adults do, and reading can answer some of their questions on religion and society in a way that other avenues cannot.
  6. Aesthetic experiences. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just a pleasure to see a pun or figurative language at it’s finest. Sometimes a phrase just jumps off of the page and lands in your heart. Sometimes the language just resonates with you in a way that nothing else has. It’s beautiful.
  7. One of the most important is that it develops the imagination. We need great thinkers and that comes by first having the ability to read and imagine which in turns produces ingenuity.
  8. It teachers others about culture in a way that is fascinating and relative. Not everyone is the same, and how well do we know it, but it’s being able to see those differences in a different light that sheds true understanding.

These are some of the many reasons why we share literature with children, all of which help create whole-some, well-developed members of family and society. As a reader myself, I will more willing to read books that I haven’t been willing to read before, as well as promote books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been passionate about. Reading, in essence, is a life-long skill with the power to shape our lives in every aspect, and I intend to share that with others.

By the way, here is a video from John Green about “47 Charming Facts about Children’s Books:”

#amreading #yaliterature #read #ala

CANVA – a Great Graphic Design Tool

Hello! If you’ve never tried Canva, it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to create a variety of stylish and effective products. Many use it for social media, such as stickers, banners, and labels, while others use it for brochures, menus, info-graphics, and even book covers!

It’s user-friendly and has a lot to offer.    #grahpicdesign #writerslife

Image result for CANVA

Book Review 1. In a Dark, Dark Wood

The first book I am reviewing is for adults. Most of the books I will be reviewing on here will be for young adults and children, but I just finished this one and thought I’d kick off my reviews with In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

This is a psychological thriller full of mystery. Our main character is Nora who decides to go to a hen for her once best-friend, Clare. The only thing is, they haven’t spoken in over ten years, having left an unsettled past behind them. Upon going to this hen despite her best wishes, she finds herself in the company of various strangers and it’s not long before things go awry and someone is suspected for murder.

Was it Clare, the perfect person in everyone’s eyes, even in Nora’s. Was it her over-obsessed friend, Flo, or was it Nora, who can’t remember exactly what happened the night everything went wrong?

I enjoyed this book. It was down-to-earth, easy to read, and kept me engaged. While I couldn’t relate to any of the events in the book, I could relate to the main character’s motivation for going to the hen as well as some of her internal insecurities.

Each character was well thought out and individual. And even though I had a pretty good hint as to who-done-it, I was still interested as to the how and why.

This book would be good for adults who love mystery and suspense. On a scale from 1-5, 1 being the least and 5 being the most adored or enjoyed, I’d give this book a 4.

The last note I have for this book and as a warning, it does have a fare amount of language. I simply choose to ignore that, but in truth, I really didn’t enjoy that factor.

You can find her website here:


Book Reviews Up Next

Hi all!

I will be reading 8 books a month and blogging about them here real soon. The first book I will be reviewing will be Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Reviews will include the intended audience, my reflection of the work, relevant links to the work and author, as well as a rating and the ways in which it relates to teens.

Keep an eye out!

And, as always, happy writing!


Writing Tip – Put Figurative Language in your Arsenal

Have you ever wanted to write, but just wasn’t feeling it? That has been me for quiet some time. I fell in love with writing but over the last year or more, my writing hasn’t really sparked much joy; it’s been more like work. I would tell myself to do it because I loved it, but I wasn’t doing it because I felt in love with it.

I recently took a state exam for English and even though I already knew this, I kept reading sections in my study guide that said something like this: Great writers use figurative language in their work, language like similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, etc. I’ve taught English and would help students identify and analyze figurative language, but I never mindfully tried to incorporate it in my own work.

So, one evening when I sat down to do some writing, I took an old passage that was rather thin (small paragraphs) and said to myself: “Okay, let’s redo this using that figurative language that great writers use.” The effects were huge. My writing went from skimpy in quantity to actually having much more substance. I even found myself enjoying the process so much more and looking forward to getting back into it. I could feel myself falling in love again.

It’s not that I didn’t try to employ all of the five senses as well as balance the amount of showing and telling, but my writing just didn’t feel… alive. Needless to say, after mindfully using the various literary elements I’ve had in my arsenal for so long, my writing has that spark again.

If you haven’t been already doing this, mindfully or naturally, you could always give it a try. You never know what it might do to improve your writing.

As always, Happy Writing.