A distinctive literature about childhood has existed since the Victorian era, but not so about adolescence as a stage of life with its own integrity, concerns, and distinct problems. Teachers, librarians, and parents argue that the classics of world literature are accessible to reading teenagers. These classics include the work of Edgar Allan Poe, who is a lasting favorite with young people, as with adults. The romances of the Brontë sisters, Rudyard Kipling’s exotic adventure tales, and the picaresque novels of Mark Twain feature youthful characters appealing to a wide range of readers. Young readers also seek out the novels of Jack London, Zora Neale Hurston, George Orwell, Pearl Buck, Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee, Kurt Vonnegut, Chaim Potok, and others. Even though many classics endure as a type of literature for youth, a distinct junior or juvenile literary category did not emerge until the 1930’s.
Rose Wilder Lane’s Let the Hurricane Roar (1933) is widely credited as the first serious novel written specifically for young adults. Its story of hardscrabble family life on the Dakota plains, in which harsh problems are surmounted, set an optimistic tone for youth reading that was to dominate the field for many years. Publishers loosely defined young adulthood as ages twelve through twenty.
Less than ten years after Lane’s groundbreaking novel, Maureen Daly published her own work of young fiction, Seventeenth Summer...
(The entire section is 538 words.)