Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism, Fourth Edition

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  • About the author
  • Reviews

Named a 2023 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

"Keep the literal and figurative lights on; cockroaches hate that": read an interview with the author now!

Editorial Advisory Board: Sarah Park Dahlen, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Marianne Martens, Associate Professor, School of Information, Kent State University; Amy Pattee, Associate Professor and Co-coordinator of Dual-Degree MS LIS/MA Children’s Literature, School of Library and Information Science, Children’s Literature, Simmons University

“Comprehensive and substantial … a highly recommended resource," raved VOYA about the third edition. Now, to keep pace with changes in the field of publishing and realign itself to the newest generation of young adults, Cart returns with a sweeping update of his classic text.  Relied upon by educators, LIS instructors and students, and practitioners for its insight and thoroughness, his book

  • surveys the landscape of YA lit both past and present, sketching out its origins and showing how it has evolved to deal with subjects every bit as complex as its audience;
  • closely examines teen demographics, literacy, audiobooks, the future of print, the role of literary criticism, and other key topics;
  • provides updated coverage of perennially popular genre fiction, including horror, sci fi, and dystopian fiction;
  • delves deeply into multicultural and LGBTQIA+ literature, substantially updated in this edition;
  • features expansive interviews with best-selling authors like Eric Shanower, Jackie Woodson, and Bill Konigsberg as well as several publishers and leaders in the field;
  • discusses the impact of the Printz Award, ALAN’s Walden Award, the National Book Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Award, and other honors; and
  • features abundant bibliographic material to aid in readers' advisory and collection development.

In its newest edition, this “shrewd and thorough survey” (ARBA) is a must-have for everyone who wants to understand where YA lit has been and where it's heading.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use. This book is available in e-book format for libraries and individuals through aggregators and other distributors—ask your current vendor or contact us for more information.


Part I: That Was Then
1    From Sue Barton to the Sixties
2    The Sixties and Seventies
3    The Eighties
4    The Early Nineties
5    The Rest of the Nineties

Part II: This Is Now
6    A New Literature for a New Millennium?
7    A Critical Apparatus
8    Genre on the Agenda
9    Romancing the Retail
10    So, How Old Is Young Adult?
11    Meanwhile, Back in the Real World
12    Reality Revisited
13    Sex and Other Shibboleths
14    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender+ Literature
15    Still the Controversies Continue
16    The Viz Biz
17    The New Nonfiction
18    Of Books and Bytes

Appendix: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation—A Close Reading
About the Author

Michael Cart

Michael Cart is the former director of the Beverly Hills (CA) Public Library and the author or editor of twenty-seven books. He is a columnist and reviewer for the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Parents magazine. Mr. Cart is a past president of both the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the National Council of Teachers of English’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN). He is the recipient of the 2000 Grolier Foundation Award; in 2008 he became the first recipient of the YALSA/Greenwood Publishing Group Service to Young Adults Achievement Award; and is a recipient of the 2018 ALAN Award. Before his relocation to the Midwest, he taught young adult literature at UCLA.

"This fourth edition of Cart's seminal work on the history of and trends in young adult literature is even more impressive than the three previous editions and includes 35 percent more content ... [It is] a near-perfect text for either an introductory undergraduate or graduate course in the genre."
— Choice

"This fourth edition of Cart's guide to young adult literature has been updated, lengthened, and strengthened, making it practically indispensable ... Literature, education, and library youth services students will appreciate the accessible descriptions and logical progressions from subject to subject; practicing professionals will benefit from the sections regarding representation, risky behaviors, and LGBTQIAA+ literature. This greatly expanded edition belongs in most academic and professional collections."
— Booklist

"A valuable overview ... it is well-suited to those new to young adult literature and wanting an accessible and streamlined American history of how it became what it is today."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association

"For courses addressing collection development for youth services or school libraries ... one need look no further than this engaging and detailed accounting of the creation and reception of literature for teenagers."
— Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Praise for the third edition

"The third edition of this enjoyably readable work—a high-level, research-based view of the field, rather than criticism of individual works or themes—features a good deal of new and revised content that should be of value to bibliographers as well as patrons ... readers should find this a shrewd and thorough survey of the YA literature landscape."

”Comprehensive and substantial, and the sheet amount of titles and authors used to illustrate the extent and diversity of YA literature is invaluable … this book is a highly recommended resource."

"With the recent trends in the field, it is no wonder that YA expert Cart has updated his already classic reference on YA literature with this third edition … His insights continue to inform and delight the reader."
— Booklist

"This definitive text on young adult literature is for teachers, students, and people who just love to read about literary genres. The book has a reference go-to quality as well as a pick-me-up-and-just-read-it quality … Reading this book is not only a walk down memory lane but a pathfinder for what to expect in today’s fast-paced, internet-driven, and ever-changing world of adolescents, however they are defined and whatever their ages."
— Catholic Library World