Children's Lit
YA Lit
LibMedia Skills
LMC Admin
Copyright Issues
LMS Resources
Lesson Plans
Education Sites
Virtual Trips
News Resources

YA Genres

[ Realistic Fiction ] [ Humor ] [ Adventure, Sports, Mysteries, Supernatural, Horror ] [ Fantasy, Sci-Fi ] [ Historical Fiction ] [ Nonfiction, Biography ] [ Poetry, Drama, Short Stories ]

Realistic Fiction, Problem Novels

Realistic Fiction

According to  From Romance to Realism. (Michael Cart, p. 65) realistic novels: "must portray not only real-life circumstances - call them problems, if you wish - but also real people living in real settings.

Realistic fiction for young adults attempts to treat candidly and with respect the problems that belong specifically to them in today's world. It encompasses coming of age and problem novels, and differs from earlier young adult fiction in several ways.

bulletCharacters come mostly from lower-class families, instead of middle class homes.
bulletSettings are often harsh and difficult places to live. Earlier novels tended to be idyllic.
bulletAuthors used colloquial language, including profanity and ungrammatical constructions. Authors wrote the way people really talked.
bulletChange of mode: Instead of being written in comic and romantic modes with happy endings, they were written in ironic and even tragic modes. Some see The Chocolate War as an example of the tragic mode.
bulletProtagonist is an ordinary person, more like the reader. 

Characteristics of YA Realistic Fiction (Adapted From: Reaching Adolescents by Arthea J.S. Reed, p.5)

Character - Protagonist

bulletYoung (around age of reader)
bulletLarger than life
bulletReaders can see themselves in protagonist

Other Characters

bulletUsually underdeveloped
bulletParents often underdeveloped or absent altogether. May also be portrayed as poor role models. Seen only through eyes of protagonist
bulletAdults other than parents may serve as mentor for protagonist
bulletPeers may serve as friends or antagonists


bulletUsually single plot line
bulletProblems of interest to reader
bulletReaders can place themselves in plot
bulletPlenty of dialogue


bulletUsually the protagonists
bulletOften in the first person
bulletSometimes in third person, with an omniscient narrator
bulletComing of age
bulletYou are not alone
bulletYou can
bulletBuilding self-esteem
bulletLife is not so serious
bulletKnow thyself
bulletAcceptance: body and self
bulletDeveloping relationships: both friends and family
bulletOtherness and likeness
bulletDiscovery/the quest


bulletSex-related problems: pregnancy, rape, teenage prostitution
bulletDrugs and alcohol
bulletHandicaps & Disabilities

Problems often treated include family relationships, finding friends, belonging to a group, accepting one's physical body, understanding and working out problems related to sex, death, living in a multicultural world, and disabilities.

Characteristics of good problem novels (Adapted from: Reaching Adolescents. Arthea Reed., p. 63)

Character -- Protagonist

bulletMatures as he or she deals with the problem
bulletExperiences an epiphany
bulletLoses innocence
bulletExperiences catharsis, often not relating to solving the problem
bulletSometimes causes the problem
bulletPerson who causes the problem
bulletOften unknown or unrecognized by protagonist

Other Characters

bulletSomeone who helps protagonist deal with the problem often a peer, a mentor adult, but not usually a parent
bulletProblem of the protagonist is central to plot
bulletIndividuals and relationships are affected by the problem
bulletProblem gets worse before it gets better
bulletSuspected problem is not real problem
bulletEnds with a resolution, although not necessarily the resolution the protagonist predicted or desired

Point of View

bulletUsually the protagonist's
bulletSometimes that of the person who helps the protagonist
bulletOften second self or more mature protagonist
bulletSometimes the person who helps or attempts to help the protagonist


bulletYou are not alone
bulletProblem may not be solved, but you can learn to deal with it
bulletYou grow as a person because of trying to deal with the problem
bulletYou can!

[ Top ]


Even a novel with the most serious story can contain humor. Humor exists in practically every situation and can be an effective tool to use to deal with problems.   Writers of any genres can use humor to develop situations and characters. According to Reaching Adolescents (Reed p. 54) the following are some of the characteristics of good humorous fiction for young adults includes:

bulletProtagonist: young, identifiable, caught up in real situations, does things reader does or would like to do.
bulletOther characters: adults often underdeveloped, if developed they are portrayed as real people.
bulletOther adults rather than a parent act as mentor
bulletOne or more characters act as foils to the protagonist
bulletPlot: situational and wide-ranging
bulletHumor is found in situations that are not particularly humorous
bulletNovel may not be written to be humorous, but the sense of humor helps the protagonist to mature
bulletOften an element of suspense
bulletVoice and point of view are of the protagonis
bulletTheme: "you can survive," "you are not alone in your problems," "life is not so serious"

Stages of Humor

Lance M. Gentile and Merna M McMillen, "Humor and the Reading Program," have looked at humor and youth.  They consider interest in humor as developing in stages from childhood to and young adult's 

bulletAges 10-11 - literal and slapstick humor 
bulletAges12-13 - practical jokes, teasing, sick jokes, sarcasm among other types of humor come into play.
bulletAges 14-15 - more lewd jokes and humor aimed at persons in authority, institutions such as schools. A

Ages 16 and Up - adult humor becomes more a part of their repertoire. 

[ Top ]

Adventure, Sports, Mysteries, Supernatural, Horror

Adventure, sports, and mystery are all thought of as pleasure reading and escape literature. For example, sports can be a metaphor for "the game of life." These forms of literature take the young person out of his/her normal day-to-day existence and put them in extraordinary circumstances. 

The protagonist is in all respects an ordinary adolescent. Humor can be present in any of these genres, as it can also be present in realistic fiction and nonfiction. Humor in an otherwise serious story can give one a sense of hope that not otherwise be there. (credit by stephen fraser) Well written adventure stories deals with emotions and problems that are timeless and elemental, such as matters of life and death and of good versus evil. 

Adventure Stories

The good adventure story for young adults has the protagonist, who is just an ordinary person, set in an extraordinary circumstance. Gary Paulsen is well known for setting his young characters down in a setting that tests their abilities to survive. 

In Hatchet and Brian's Winter, Brian seems to face insurmountable odds, but endures and succeeds in surviving by himself in a wilderness area. In The Haymeadow, a fourteen year-old boy is faced with taking care of 6,000 sheep for a summer. The first few days, he faces situations that seem incredible but yet believable.   

Evaluating Adventure Stories (Adapted from Nilsen and Donelson, Table 6.1)

bulletA likeable protagonist young readers identify with
bulletAn adventure readers can either imagine happening to themselves, or can believe in: verisimilitude or the appearance of being real
bulletEfficient characterization
bulletAction that draws the reader into the story quickly
bulletAn interesting setting that enhances the story without getting in the way of the plot

Literary Elements in Adventure: 

bulletPerson versus person
bulletPerson versus nature
bulletPerson versus self
bulletConflicts, tension, thrills, and chills
bulletHero frustrated by a villain, natural forces, other people.

YA authors writing adventure stories include Will Hobbs, Gary Paulsen, Robb White, Iain Lawrence, Avi, Henry Mazer, Cornelia Funke. 


Mysteries are exciting and popular. Young fans of this genre often read adult mysteries.  Series involving the same detective are often based on a common plot line and is known as formula fiction.  According to Hillary Waugh (pp. 185-186) the following rules are important for a mystery to effectively engage young readers:

  1. All clues discovered by the detective must be made available to the reader.
  2. The murderer must be introduced early.
  3. The crime must be significant
  4. There must be detection.
  5. The number of suspects must be known and the murderer must be among them.
  6. The reader can expect that everything in the book, in some way, contributes to solving the puzzle.

Characteristics of Good YA Mysteries

bulletProtagonist, an adolescent, who falls into the role by chance
bulletVictims usually undeveloped, reader may not even know
bulletAntagonist is present throughout the book, well-developed character, not recognized as the murderer or perpetrator until late in the story
bulletPlot: murder or event occurs early in the novel, most characters except for the detective are suspects, every piece of information could be important in solving the mystery, misleading clues are put out, suspension of disbelief in the reader is required
bulletPoint of view: usually that of the protagonist, who usually withholds information from the reader
bulletVoice: Protagonist
bulletSetting: is important to the plot, weather is often important
bulletTheme is usually unimportant

YA mysteries are about more the crime; they don't focus solely on murder. Writers of young adult mysteries include: Robert Cormier, Ellen Raskin, Jay Bennett, Joan Aiken, Lois Duncan, Patricia Windsor, M.E. Kerr, Walter Dean Myers, Richard Peck and Joan Lowery Nixon. Lois Duncan and Robert Cormier often give the reader more suspense than mystery.

According to Arthea J.S. Reed in Reaching Adolescents: The Young Adult Book and the School, different types of mysteries include: 

bulletGothic romance mysteries, usually set in a mysterious house in a remote setting : Lois Duncan: Down a Dark Hill.
bulletHistorical Mysteries: Virginia Hamilton's House of Dies Drear and Mystery of Drear House (Civil War backdrop and the Underground Railroad). M.E. Kerr's Gentlehands (young boy who discovers that his grandfather is a Nazi war criminal).
bulletHumorous mysteries: Walter Dean Myers' Mojo and The Russians, The Young Landlords, and The Mouse Rap
bulletMulticultural mysteries: Rosa Guy, And I Heard a Bird Sing, Walter Dean Myers, and Virginia Hamilton
bulletSupernatural mysteries: Richard Peck with the Blossom Culp books; Joan Lowry Nixon's The Séance, A Candidate for Murder, Caught in the Act, The weekend Was Murder; Madeleine L'Engle's The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Water (combines fantasy and science fiction with mystery)
bulletMystery series include: Christopher Pike: Final Friends; Hardy Boys Casefiles, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries; Nancy Drew Files; Patricia H. Rushford's Jenny McGrady 

Mystery Writers of America maintains a Web site and gives out the  the Edgar Allan Poe Award (The Edgar Awards) for best work in the mystery field within a given year.  Their is a special category for YA mysteries.  Past winners are identified at the site.


In stories of the supernatural, the writer must get the reader's attention immediately.  There seems to be a universal fascination with the unknown, haunted houses, urban legends, and mysterious happenings.  Supernatural novels are build around eerie settings, darkness, rituals or ceremonies, family curses, and pacts with the devil. 

Writers of Supernatural YA Novels Include:

bulletVivian Vande Velde. Never Trust a Dead Man
bulletNeil Gaiman Coraline
bulletAnnette Curis Klause. The Silver Kiss, Blood and Chocolate
bulletRobert Cormier. Fade

[ Top ]

Fantasy and Science Fiction

A precise definition of these two genres can be difficult, these genres are related.  Reasonable people can disagree if a work should be categorized as fantasy or science fiction. 

According to Ursula LeGuin, "Of Fantasy …you get to make up the rules, but then you've got to follow them. Science fiction refines the canon: you get to make up the rules, but within limits. A science fiction story must not flout the evidence of science."

Another perspective, from Walter Wangerin, Jr., is that, "Fantasy deals with the 'immeasurable' while science fiction deals with the 'measurable.'"

Some consider science fiction as a sub-genre of fantasy. Both provide the reader with an escape.  Others talk of fantasy as being about portarying internal conflicts portrayed in a way that will change the reader. Lloyd Alexander asserts, "If the creator of fantasy has done his work well, we should be a little bit different at the end of the journey than we were at the beginning. Maybe just for the moment, maybe for a long while." (Butts, 1992) 

Alexander writes that fantasies are "written by adults living in an adult world, trying to cope with it and understand it, subjected to all the pressures and problems of real life. If the writer of fantasy is a serious creator, his work is going to reflect this." (Butts, 1992) 

Science fiction and fantasy have been labeled escapist, childish, simple reading, unreal, untrue, impossible, and even Satanic.  All fiction, however, can have "impossible" elements -- even though it is based on premises of real life and things that we know could happen to us in everyday life.   Good science fiction or fantasy is based on a metaphor.  Somehow, the world presented by the author reflects the life of the reader.


Elements of Fantasy:

bulletStory set in a fully imagined secondary world
bulletMagical elements
bulletMythological creatures
bulletAnimal worlds
bulletInvented Languages
bulletSeriousness of tone
bulletImportance of theme
bulletCharacters of noble birth or lineage
bulletHero's Quest: self transformation or awareness, or against evil
bulletEmphasis on magic and mystery (and almost total lack of technology and machinery as effective devices in the action)
bulletGenerally clear presentation of good and evil, right and wrong
bulletWritten for children and young adults, it is about growing up
bulletUse of characters, ideas and constructs from myth, legend and folktales to add depth and texture to narrative
bulletIncludes elements of the impossible
bulletVoice is that of the creator's (author's) voice
bulletUse of folklore, legend and myth

Fantasy may be a combination of realism and imagination.  . For example in Ursula LeGuin's A Beginning Place, the main characters enter the fantasy world of Tembreabrezi, but also find their way in the real world.

Characteristics YA Fantasy (Adapted from Reaching Adolescents, Reed, 1994)


bulletRepresents every adolescent
bulletUsually a reluctant hero with self-doubt
bulletPossess characteristics of good and evil
bulletTransforms self by encountering and defeating problems
bulletAlthough humanlike, may possess superhuman characteristics
bulletVery well developed


bulletBegins in the waking world
bulletMagical moment occurs when the protagonist transcends the real world and enters the other world
bulletMost suspense develops in other world
bulletInvolves quest to solve problems and conquer evil
bulletLife and death situations are encountered
bulletEvents have many levels of meaning
bulletProtagonist's growth is central to the plot
bulletProtagonist may not conquer evil by the end of the novel
bulletConclusion may be a resting place for the beginning of new quests in subsequent novels

Point of View



bulletAuthor's (Creator's)


bulletBoth real and other worlds are believable
bulletMoment of transcending real world to other world must appear to be possible
bulletMagical world must follow rules set by the author
bulletThere may be talking animals, magical or mythological beasts

Literary Elements

bulletAllegory (imaginary world makes the real world more visible)
bulletInvented words or a new language may be used
bulletLanguage is often central to the plot and theme


bulletRelates to hero's quest
bulletInvolves self-transformation and self-awareness
bulletProblems in the real world can be conquered
bulletGood can triumph over evil

Science Fiction

Science fiction, perhaps more so than fantasy, creates connections connections between the real world and the imaginary.  Perhaps it is about something that hasn't happened yet, but might be possible someday.

Elements of Science Fiction: 

bulletAdheres to natural law, even that of another planet
bulletBased on the real world
bulletIncludes adventure
bulletHeroes & quests
bulletGood and Evil

Characteristics of YA Science Fiction


bulletBelievable, similar to reader
bulletHas superhuman qualities that are humanly possible (extreme intelligence, bravery, psychic abilities)
bulletMay be a victim
bulletHas real human problems


bulletNot always a person, sometimes a situation or the setting
bulletMay be other self of the protagonist


bulletBased on laws of science
bulletEvents are plausible
bulletRequires suspension of disbelief
bulletBegins in the real world as reader knows it
bulletFollows rules set by the author which must have a foundation in the laws of science
bulletFast-moving, exciting

Point of View


bulletThird person



bulletSometimes second, older or wiser self


bulletBased on the laws of science
bulletMoves from reader's real world to imaginary world
bulletOften set in past or future
bulletTime travel
bulletWonder and dangers of space travel
bulletScience has important effects on our lives
bulletExamination of other possible worlds, helps us better understand our own world

Dystopias and Utopias

Utopias are places of happiness and prosperity, the opposite being dystopias.  A cross between science fiction and fantasy, these novels are usually set in the future. Technology often plays a major role in the story.  Books dealing with dystopias include: The Giver, No Kidding, and Eva (Peter Dickinson) and The Last Book on Earth

More on Fantasy and Science Fiction

bulletButts, Dennis, ed. Stories and Society: Children's Literature in its Social Context. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. 
bulletPierce, Erin. "Science Fiction and Fantasy," Voices from the Middle (December 2001) 9(2): 74-77. A annotated bibliography of science fiction and fantasy for middle school students.
bullet Sullinvan, C.W. "Fantasy," Stories and Society: Children's Literature in its Social Context. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
bulletVolz, Bridget Dealy, et al. Junior Genreflecting: a guide to good reads and series fiction for children. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 2000.
bulletVoice of Youth Advocates. Annual list "Best of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror." April issue.
bulletYoung Adult Science Fiction. Edited by C.W. Sullivan. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999. Contains essays on American young adult science fiction, YA science fiction in Canada, Britain, Australia, and Germany. Topical essays include the YA novel as Bildungsroman, women in Heinlein's juvenile novels, and science fiction in comic books. Part III is a bibliography of science fiction for children and young adults, criticism and secondary sources. 

[ Top ]

Historical Fiction  

Historical fiction provides a presents the past in a manner that connects with readers on a personal and emotional level.  In the school curriculum, it can be and excellent way to as enrich and complement textbooks.  By nature, it presents history in an exciting and interesting way.  The use of historical fiction in the classroom can introduce students to good literature, giving them a window into another world. 

Teachers can use works of historical fiction to bring the period alive, making it more relevant and interesting to today's students.  The characters, although not real historical figures, behave appropriately for the historical setting. Christopher Collier and his brother James Lincoln Collier are two well known writers of historical fiction. Christopher Collier (World Historical Fiction Guide for Young Adults, Lee Gordon and Cheryl Tanaka, 1995) identifies four criteria that good historical fiction:

bulletFocus on an important historical theme an understanding of which helps us to deal with the present 
bulletCenter on an episode in which the theme inheres in fact 
bulletAttend to the historiographic elements 
bulletPresent accurate detail 

Nilsen & Donelson (Literature for Today's Young Adults, 2002) lists the following characteristics for evaluating historical fiction:

bulletA setting that is integral to the story 
bulletAuthentic rendition of time, place and people featured
bulletAuthor who is thoroughly steeped in history of the period so that he/she can be creative without making mistakes 
bulletBelievable characters with whom young readers can identify 
bulletEvidence that even across great time spans people share similar emotions 
bulletReferences to well known events or people other clues through which the reader can place the happenings in their correct historic framework 
bulletReaders who come away with the feleling that they know a time or place better. 

Characteristics of YA Historical Fiction (Adapted from Reaching Adolescents, Reed, 1994)


bulletBring history to life, change reader's opinions 



bulletFictional, realistic adolescent who could have lived during time period, heroic, bigger than life, typical concerns and problems of adolescent, accessible to reader

Other Characters

bulletMajor characters usually fictional, minor characters may be real persons from history


bulletFictional character placed in real historic setting, sequence of events character is involved in are historically possible, sequence of events occurring in novel is plausible, actions of any real persons are accurate or plausible 
bulletEvents may be romanticized to some extent 

Point of View

bulletUsually protagonists, sometimes multiple points of view are presented, third-person point of view may be needed to relate historical events 


bulletOften protagonist's second self viewing the event in a reflective manner, sometimes the author or narrator 


bulletIn the past, historically accurate 
bulletTheme - patriotism, regionalism, heroism, war is evil, you can 

Young adult literature is available for most periods of United States history. Some of the periods include: Colonies (Witch of Black Bird Pond, Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth), Revolutionary period (Johnny Tremain, My Brother Sam is Dead, Jump Ship to Freedom, I'm Deborah Sampson: A Soldier in the War of the Revolution), emerging nation (Lyddie, Beyond the Divid, The Birchbark House), Civil War (Soldier's Heart, Voices from the Civil War, Gentle Anne), slavery (House of Dies Drear, Which Way Freedom), immigration (Journey to America, The Moved-Outers, Dragonwings), recent wars such as the Vietnam War (Fallen Angels, Linger, Sergeant Dickinson). 

World historical fiction could be divided by time period and into the following categories: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand/Oceania, Europe and the Americas.

More on Historical Fiction

Gordon, Lee and Cheryl Tanaka. World historical fiction guide for young adults. Fort Atkinson, WI: High Smith Press, 1995.

Internet School Library Media Center Historical Fiction  The page includes bibliographies, criticism (look at article from ALAN Review, 1998), lesson plans and other resources such as listing of awards. Other links from this page include: ISLMC Home Page. Children's Literature or Young Adult Literature pages. 

Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction  The Scott O'Dell Award is given for the best in historical fiction for children and young adults. 

Nonfiction, Biography

Nonfiction plays an important role in the mission of a school library media center.  It fulfills information and recreation. Information books are important to young people.  Many, especially at-risk teens, read nonfiction regularly, yet consider themselves nonreaders.  Perhaps this is because nonfiction is often not included in Language Arts curriculum

From fourth grade to high school, male readers tend to show a preference for nonfiction.  Recreational reading, non-curricular materials, such as biographies of popular personalities, Chicken Soup for the Soul series, books of jokes, sports books, and self help books can be important parts of a collection.  When building nonfiction collections, pay attention to what teenagers are seeing in the media and interacting with on the Internet -- this is a great way to identify interests and build collections.  

Types of Nonfiction:


Historical nonfiction - books for young people enliven history, presenting it through anecdotes and stories, photographs and paintings, and words. Histories are available for different time periods such as the Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War. 


Contemporary social issues - environmental concerns, individual rights, women's issues, teenage sex and pregnancy, drugs and alcohol, schools, families


Cross-cultural studies - historical and present day accounts of different ethnic groups in the United States, Native Americans, Hispanic or Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Other world cultures




How-To Books 


Science books 


Mathematics and puzzle books 

Characteristics of YA Nonfiction (Adapted from Reaching Adolescents, Reed, 1994)


Readability - appropriate for reading and developmental level of adolescents, jargon and technical language is minimal or carefully defined.

bulletSubject of interest to young readers 
bulletInformation up to date and accurate 
bulletWell organized 
bulletUse of appropriate language, appropriate and acceptable uses of dialects of English 
bulletIndex, table of contents, other finding aids 
bulletGood documentation of sources of information
bulletInformation on further or additional readings
bulletIllustrations and visuals that interest and add clarity to text 
bulletAuthor's credentials are appropriate 
bulletHow to books - clear and accurate directions 

Awards for YA Nonfiction

bulletThe Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is intended to honor the author whose work of nonfiction has made a significant contribution to the field of children's literature. Information books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize and interpret documentable factual material for children. The award was established in 2001. The winners and honor books for 2001 and 2002 are listed below. 
bulletThe Orbis Pictus Award is given to nonfiction literature for children in grades K-8.

More on YA Nonfiction

bulletSchool Library Journal
bulletALAN Review
bulletJournal of Youth Services in Libraries
bulletBooklist and Book Link
bulletVoice of Youth Advocates
bulletBook Links
bulletEnglish Journal (March 2002 issue is devoted to a discussion of nonfiction and contains articles on the use of nonfiction in high school English classes. 

Biography and Autobiography

Biography and autobiography tell the stories of real people.  Sometimes, they are written in ways that portray characters similar to fiction.  YA biographical and autobiographical work tend to be short in length (250-250 pages). The subject of the biography must seem real, even in a fictionalized account of a person's life. 

In the past, biographies written for young readers were about heroic figures whose lives were models for us mortals to emulate. Today biographies are more likely to be written objectively, providing information about a persons strengths and weaknesses.

Biography can straddle the line between historical fiction and nonfiction, depending on how it is written and the author's intention.  Reed lists seven categories of biography as defined by G.Robert Carlsen:  fictionalized, definitive, interpretive, objective, monumental, critical, and collected. 

Characteristics of YA Biographies and Autobiographies (Adapted from Reaching Adolescents, Reed, 1994)

bulletFictionalized: Includes events and dialogue that might have happened but cannot be verified with historical documentation. 
bulletDefinitive: Usually long works based on all the known facts about the person. Enjoyed by more mature young adult readers. 
bulletInterpretive: Attempt to find patterns in a person's life and explain why the person behaved as they did. Also used with autobiography. 
bulletObjective: Records documented facts about the subject's life, usually in chronological order. No attempt to judge, criticize or interpret.
bulletMonumental: Book written as a monument to subject. Faults minimized. 
bulletCritical: Looks at subject in relationship to the times and assesses the value of the person's contribution to society. 
bulletCollected: Contains short accounts of a number of persons, descriptions of particular events in their lives that may tie them together. Also may be on a particular group such as lives of famous musicians, famous women, etc.
bulletHero - real and realistic, portrayal based on fact; subject neither denigrated nor romanticized, focuses on life of hero as young adult, well-developed: reader feels she/he knows subject by end of book. 
bulletOther historical figures - real and realistic, based on fact, but may be fictionalized to some extend; less well-developed: serves as foil for hero 
bulletStoryline - based on real events; if fictionalized, story must be consistent with hero's development, historic events, time period, and setting; readable: follows storyline not unlike that in fiction; relates to needs and interests of readers. 

Point of View

bulletYoung hero's 


bulletAuthor's, knowledgeable about hero and historic period 


bulletAccurate, helps develop the storyline 


bulletProves that history is interesting; "you, too, can accomplish great things in you believe in yourself"

[ Top ]

Poetry, Drama, Short Stories

Perhaps due to the popularity of rap music, poetry books have become very successful in YA literature. Short stories, such as the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul series are also widely read.  Reluctant readers may enjoy short stories because they represent a more manageable read. 

Anthologies are available for both of these formats.  Some of the novels recently published such as Make Lemonade, Frenchtown Summer and Out of the Dust are written as prose poems. YA author Walter Dean Myers has collaborated with his son to create Harlem: A Poem

Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems, by Mel Glenn, and Rimshots capture a sense  of motion with the creative layout of words on the pages. Cool Salsa: Bilingual, poems on growing up Latino in the United States, introduces a number of Latino poets and authors. 

Short Story Collections for Teens

bulletAppelt, Kathi. Kissing Tennessee and other Stories from the Stardust Dance (2000). ALA Best Books.
bulletBauer, Marion Dane. Am I Blue? Coming Out Of The Silence (1994). ALA Best Books.
bulletBlock, Francesca Lia. Girl Goddess #9: Nine Stories (1996).
bulletBlume, Judy, ed. Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers (1999).
bulletCarlson, Lori. American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults (1995). ALA Best Books.
bulletCart, Michael. Love and Sex: Ten Stories Of Truth (2001). 

ALA Best Books

bulletNecessary Noise: Stories about Our Families as They Really Are (2003).
bulletTomorrowland: Ten Stories About the Future (99). ALA Best Books.
bulletCofer, Judith. An Island Like You: Stories Of the Barrio (1995). ALA Best Books.
bulletCormier, Robert. Eight Plus One: Stories (1980).
bulletCoville, Bruce. Oddly Enough (1994). ALA Best Books.
bulletCrutcher, Chris. Athletic Shorts (1992). ALA Best of the Best.
bulletDatlow, Ellen, and Terri Windling, ed. A Wolf at the Door: And Other Retold Fairy Tales (2000).
bulletDuncan, Lois, ed. Night Terrors: Stories of Shadow and Substance (1996).
bulletOn the Edge: Stories at the Brink (2000).
bulletTrapped!: Cages of Mind and Body (1998).
bulletEhrlich, Amy, ed. When I Was Your Age: Original Stories about Growing Up (1996).
bulletFraustino, Lisa Rowe, ed. Dirty Laundry: Stories about Family Secrets (1998).
bulletSoul Searching: Thirteen Stories about Faith and Belief (2002).
bulletGallo, Don. Destination Unexpected: Short Stories (2003).
bulletJoin In: Multiethnic Short Stories (2003).
bulletNo Easy Answers: Short Stories About Teenagers Making Tough Choices (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletOn the Fringe (2001). ALA Best Books.
bulletShort Circuits: Thirteen Shocking Stories (93).
bulletSixteen: Short Stories (1884). ALA Best of the Best.
bulletTime Capsule: Short Stories about Teenagers Throughout the Twentieth Century (1999).
bulletUltimate Sports: Short Stories (1995).
bulletVisions: Nineteen Short Stories (1987)
bulletGalloway, Priscilla. Truly Grim Tales (1995). ALA Best Books.
bulletHowe, James. 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen (2003).
bulletColor of Absence: 12 Stories about Loss and Hope. (2001). ALA Best Books.
bulletJimenez, Francisco. The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletMartin, Eric B, ed. The Campfire Collections: Spine-Tingling Tales to Tell in the Dark (2000).
bulletMazer, Anne. Working Days: Short Stories About Teenagers At Work (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletMazer, Harry. Twelve Shots: Outstanding Short Stories About Guns (1997).
bulletMcKinley, Robin, and Peter Dickinson, ed. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits (2002).
bulletMyers, Walter Dean. 145th Street: Short Stories (2000). ALA Best Books.
bulletNaidoo, Beveryl. Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope (2003). ALA Best Books.
bulletRochman, Hazel. Leaving Home: Stories (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletSomehow Tenderness Survives: Stories Of Southern Africa (1987). ALA Best Books.
bulletSecond Sight: Stories for a New Millennium (1999).
bulletSilvey, Anita. Help Wanted: Stories About Young People Working (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletSinger, Marilyn, ed. Stay True: Short Stories for Strong Girls (1998).
bulletSoto, Gary. Baseball in April and Other Stories (1990). ALA Best Books.
bulletThomas, Joyce Carole, ed. A Gathering of Flowers: Stories about Being Young in America (1990).
bulletThomas, Rob. Doing Time: Notes From the Underground (1997). ALA Best Books.
bulletWeiss, M. Jerry and Helen, ed. Big City Cool: Short Stories about Urban Youth (2002).
bulletWittlinger, Ellen. What's In a Name? (2000). ALA Best Books.
bulletYep, Laurence, ed. American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices (1993).
bulletYoung, Cathy. One Hot Second: Stories about Desire (2002).

[ Top ]

[ Realistic Fiction ] [ Humor ] [ Adventure, Sports, Mysteries, Supernatural, Horror ] [ Fantasy, Sci-Fi ] [ Historical Fiction ] [ Nonfiction, Biography ] [ Poetry, Drama, Short Stories ]

YA Genres
YA Lit Awards
YA Collections


© 2003-2005 BreitLinks, All rights reserved.  Question, comments, or would you like to share resources?  I'd love to hear from you at webmaster@clubtnt.org  

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is being made available in an efforts to advance understanding of educational, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.  If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.