Major Trends in Children's & Young Adult Literature

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are preparing to be a school librarian, you will want to have a deep familiarity with up and coming trends in children's and young adult literature. This lesson gives you a sense of some of the current movements in the field.

Keeping Up With Trends

Ms. Samuels is about to take a job as the head librarian at Rockford Elementary. She is looking forward to forming new relationships with children and colleagues. She is up on the latest technology and has some great ideas for an integrated library curriculum.

Ms. Samuels knows that it is also important for her to maintain an up-to-date collection, or set of books in her library. To do this, she needs to keep abreast of historical and current trends in children's and young adult literature. Ms. Samuels knows that understanding these trends will help her better assist her students and their families in becoming avid readers.

Racial Diversity

Historically, picture books and young adult texts have mainly represented white authors and characters. In recent years and decades, though, the field of children's literature has seen an upsurge in racial diversity.

Ms. Samuels pays close attention to recent publications and reviews that reflect this growing and important trend. She follows authors from a variety of racial and ethnic background. She also knows that it is important for the books in her collection to represent racially diverse characters.

Some books that are strong on racial diversity tell stories about race and racism, while others address entirely different themes but do the important work of integrating a field and reflecting children's lives back to themselves. Ms. Samuels strives to include plenty of each type of book in her collection.

Gender and Family Diversity

Another kind of diversity that is growing in children's and young adult literature has to do with representing children and youth with different kinds of gender identities, or ways of conceptualizing their own gender. This includes kids who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

Ms. Samuels is also careful to keep up with publications of books that show characters from all different kinds of families. She knows that the traditional children's book family includes a mom, a dad, and two children. Recent years, however, have seen publication of books about children living with extended families, same-sex parents, and single parents, among many other family constellations.


Some trends in children's literature also have to do with genre, or subtype, of book. Ms. Samuels knows that for middle grade and young adult reader, fantasy series have been gaining in popularity ever since the landmark publication of the Harry Potter series.

Among young adult literature, there has been a growing trend toward fantasy books which depict dystopian societies. Novels such as 'Divergent', 'The Hunger Games', 'The Giver', and 'The Maze Runner' often depict young heroines or heroes rising up against a dystopian society in the future.

Of course, fantasy in children's literature is not new, and Ms. Samuels maintains a strong collection of fairy tales and folktales to reflect the historical roots of this genre. She also stocks plenty of fairy books, quest novels, and stories of all lengths and levels that engage children's fantasy worlds.

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