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As many of you know, this summer I started my MFA in Children’s Literature at Hollins University. The courses have been amazing and stimulating, and when I met with my program director over the summer, I was thrilled to learn that I could design an independent study course for myself.

Since I write both YA and NA, I wanted to take a look at the relationships between these genres from a more critical perspective, so with the help of the wonderful faculty advisor who agreed to supervise this project, I came up with a reading list and a plan for my YA/NA independent study. As a writer, I see NA as a sibling to YA, and my instinct is that the genre will go through some of the same growing pains that YA went through as it becomes more established. Both were, initially, seen as little more than a marketing ploy, and both began to gain traction with contemporary stories, often with a romantic focus.

It’s exciting to be writing in a newly emerging genre, and one of my goals with this independent study course is to see if I can establish firm connections between the growth of early YA and the early years of NA (hopefully with the goal of making predictions for the future of NA literature). With that in mind, I’ve selected three YA titles from the early years of the establishment of the genre (it can be argued that YA has been around for centuries, but I’m choosing to focus on when the label really began emerging, in the post-war era of the 1950s and 1960s, specifically zoning in on the establishment of YALSA in 1957), and I’ve selected three early NA titles (working within the parameters that St. Martin’s press coined the term in 2009). I’ve also included a title which, although published far before the birth of NA, might fit within the genre’s parameters, and I’ve included a YA title that pre-dates the formation of YALSA by 15 years, to consider if titles written before a genre is “officially” born can still fit within it. To round out my reading list, I’ll be reading a craft book on YA and NA, and my plan is to keep a reading log here on my blog, sharing my thoughts with y’all as I work my way through the early years of YA and NA.

In case you wanted to read along with me and discuss the titles and the evolution of the two genres, I thought I’d share my reading list and schedule with you (plus, this will help keep me accountable, since this is my first foray into the land of independent study).  Sound good?

Here’s my schedule:

  • October 5-11: Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  • October 12-18: The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
  • October 19-25: The Pigman by Paul Zindell
  • October 26-November 1: Forever by Judy Blume
  • November 2-8: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  • November 9-15: Flat Out Love by Jessica Park
  • November 16-22: Wait for You by J. Lynn
  • November 23-29: Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
  • November 30-December6: Between the Covers Sampler

So, what do you say? Want to read along with me? I’ll be posting my thoughts on each book on the Sunday following the week I’ve read it, and if you’ve read any of these titles, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!