Happy Monday everyone! I hope your weekend was great and that this week will also be awesome. Today I wanted to discuss some things I want to see more of in YA books. The YA publishing industry has been exploding with all kinds of diverse stories in the last 5 years or so and it’s been great to see. But here are a few things I want to see more of in YA that I think are important and can be beneficial.
1. Not the same fairy tales
I’ve noticed a trend with YA retellings that it seems like there’s the same 3 or 4 fairy tale stories and not enough of others! We keep seeing these type of books:
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love retellings of stories like Beauty and the Beast, but we need more different stories in YA! There’s cultures from all over the world that have their own mythology and fairy tales. Here’s a few examples of fairy tales of lesser known stories:
It’s always important to dig through the treasure trove of the world’s fairy tales that are just waiting to be reimagined into fun stories. Where are YA books based on Finnish, Maori, Iceland, Caribbean and other fairy tales in the world? The more variety, the more future knowledge we gain and more favorite stories.
2. Platonic relationships
It’s very predictable now that if we have a girl and boy POV, or at least two POVs, we can easily predict that those two will become romantically involved. But what about more platonic relationships? Not everything should be centered around romance in stories, since it could give skewed expectations of reality but also not give another perspective. Here’s an example of a platonic relationship:
We follow Abigail and through her eyes, we see the adventures she takes with R.F. Jackaby throughout this series. These two are the main characters but they remain in a professional, but friendly platonic relationship. While Abigail does fall for a side characters, she doesn’t have a romantic one with Jackaby. I loved seeing this platonic relationship because it shows that not every guy and girl end up romantically involved. I would love to see stories where the two main characters or the main female and the most prominent male character don’t end up romantically involved. They can be just allies, just friends, or maybe they just have a bond for that book. Here’s a few books where there’s more friendship/platonic relationships instead of a romantic one:
3. More Present Parents
Brianna at Pages Undbounded recently posted an amazing post Where Are the Mothers in Young Adult Books?in where she talks about the high stats of parents that are not involved in the YA stories. Those stats were super high and it’s sad to see. Parents are critical roles in teaching their teens how to be independent, learn skills, be kind to others, face hardships and many other things. But too often we see stories were the parents aren’t even involved, regardless of the genre. Here are some examples of recent books where the parents aren’t involved/deceased:
While I know that death happens and other terrible things to break apart families, I still hope to see more strong family bonds between teens and their parents. In this day and age, family bonds are so important when facing challenges and also reminding you of where you came from and who you are. I would love to see different relationships like between grandparents, foster parents, single parents and many other parent situations to help those feel noticed and have a book to help them relate. If you have any YA books that focus on family bonds, please send them my way!
4. More Religious Stories
I have been seeing this recently with some religions getting more of a focus in YA and that’s great! Religion shapes so many cultures, families and individuals and I don’t think it should be ignored. Many religions teach wonderful and I’ve seen many religious teens throughout my years and want to see more of those voices. These are some recent YA books that featured many Jewish, Muslim and Latin stories:
There’s so much to explore with how religion impacts teens lives. There’s also Lutheran, Baptist, non-denominational, Greek Orthodox, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Roman Catholic, Catholic and many others. There’s good in religion and I would love to see those teens feel noticed like I would have when I was young. There Christian or other religious branches of publishing and while that’s good, I think that traditional publishing can offer stories like these more chances for more audiences.
5. Location, Location, Location
We all love books set in different countries. It gives us a chance to see a sliver of a country we’ve never been to or our country of origin and love seeing the representation. We’ve been getting more exotic locations in YA recently but they seem to be the same thing. We have books like:
While many YA books are set within the USA, we need more stories set around the world! We’re getting some of those stories that are set in places like Taiwan, France (a major trend), the Middle East and Eastern Europe, there’s so much more to explore! I would love to see stories set in places like New Zealand, Netherlands, Caribbean, the Polynesian Islands, Fiji, Finland, Iceland and so many more! The world is our canvas with YA and I hope to see more stories with ties to many other nations around the world like these books.
What are things you would like to see more in YA books? Do you agree with these ideas? Do you have book recommendations based on these ideas? Let me know in the comments!