At World Fantasy Con last weekend I attended a couple of excellent panels on Young Adult / teen fiction. I was surprised how many panellists asserted that YA was a pretty brand-new category. Specifically, the panellists said that as they grew up there was no YA fiction for them to read, and that they all felt the lack of it.
The panellists were covering a decent span of ages, and I think some were my age or younger. I turned teen at the close of the eighties and I remembered a lot of teen fiction. I sat in the audience scribbling down authors and titles, and also remembered a few teen-specific publisher imprints, and a dedicated area of my small-town library. I’m not arguing that the panellists had access to all this, as well – I may have been very fortunate – but I suggest that YA definitely existed as a category 25 years ago.
So now I’m home, I’ve raided my shelves for the books that I’ve owned since the eighties, or repurchased since, to remind myself what was available.