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As a category distinction, YA literature is more of a fuzzy set than a clearly demarcated literary genre. In fact, it can’t really be called a genre at all, given that literature written for and marketed to readers from ages 12–18 comprises many genres and forms, including graphic narratives, poetry, and various kinds of nonfiction as well as traditional prose novels. And even that age range is a site of contestation. This entry offers a definition of YA literature, discusses its history, and further explores several key issues raised by the categories of YA fiction and poetry.

Defining YA Literature

As early as 1802, writer and critic Sarah Trimmer distinguished between books for children up to age 14 and young persons from ages 14 to 21. The ...

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