Teens in the YA community: Experiences + Recommendations

Teens in YA.png

Hello guys !

So today, I’m back again with another collab post where I’m not gonna be talking much for a change but giving the mic to other people who are younger than me but they sure as hell are more awesome and brilliant. When I first joined the community I was 18, an older teen, but still a teen all the same. I didn’t speak up, I didn’t even interact but I was there all the same so I saw things, things that weren’t always pleasant. Now I am 20 year old, barely an adult and see the same pattern still.

Teens in the community are often spoken over. eh eh eh. Don’t argue with me, these are facts. Teens are the core of the community, YA books are targeted towards them but if you look around, most voices you here speaking up are adults. A lot of my fellow bloggers have done polls time and time again to see in which age frame most people in the community are, and most are… over 20. That just doesn’t make sense and that’s not how it should be. I’m not saying don’t read YA. Read it, enjoy it, talk about it but keep in mind that you may be part of the YA space but it wasn’t made *for* you, it’s made for teens.

And those teens are often erased from it because adults are louder than them, sometimes intimidate or even scare them. But the thing is they are some of the smartest people I know, they have so much to say and most of them aren’t afraid to say them (and I really don’t blame the ones who don’t). And as adults we should be there for them, boost their voices, guide them and most of all, protect them. I’ve seen teens harassed, with no one -or very few people- by their side, and that’s disheartening. I came to the conclusion that we fail them time and time again and that we need to do better.

That’s where my decision to make this post came to play, I’ve been toying with it in my brain for a few months after a few incidents but after the other day’s article where teens were exposed without their consent -and the counter-post that was meant to be positive ( and was in a way failed to include their perspectives as well)- I decided it’s now or never. I’m dedicating this post to teens with a little post where they can talk about their experience and where people will hopefully listen to them. It’s the least I can do, really. Do me a favor once you’re done with this post and go follow every single one of them okay? They’re amazing.

Kav @xreadingsolace , booktuber

The word YA is an abbreviation for young adult, which is basically a fancy way of saying teen. So why is it that teens are one of the most stifled groups in the YA community? I’ve always had this aura of “maturity,” so people often assume I’m far older than 15 – so when people in the YA community find out I’m over 15, they’re shocked – as though the idea of being a teen in a community meant for teens is shocking. This isn’t to call out those people, this is to call out the reason the YA community has become unsafe for the people it is meant for. There is nothing wrong with adults being a part of the YA community – some of our best allies are adults, but the community should be centering teens and their voices. When authors who don’t even write YA and adult bloggers find it their place to judge the community and prioritize their voices over teens voices, there’s something fundamentally wrong in the community. Do authors voices matter? Do adult voices matter? Yes. Their voices are instrumental to the community, but they should not be prioritized. The YA community is meant for teens and our voices should be prioritized. I, like many other teens, have felt unsafe in the community a number of teens. Unsafe in a community meant for me. Every community has some flaws, But when the flaw is that the people who the community are designed for feel unsafe, then there’s a fundamental flaw that needs to be fixed immediately.

If you’d like to check out a book that changed a teen’s world, I’d recommend When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

Jessi @bibliojessi , book blogger

I have been on the online book community for over two years now. 2017 has by far been my most active year. This year I have made friends and connected with so many people in the YA community. When I first joined, I was shy and intimidated at that fact that all the “popular” people seemed to be so much older than me and I felt like I would never “achieve their level” but over time, as I made friends with other teens my age, I felt so welcome and accepted that I stopped worrying about “popularity.” Being able to come online to a place where so many people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met will talk about my favorite books with me is a blessing that I cherish dearly. In addition to all the teen blogger friends that I have made, I appreciate the adults who stand up for teens so much. When adults step up and try to make the community a good place for us, it makes us feel safer. Ultimately, I just love this community and I love the members of it.

A book I always have to recommend is How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake. This is the first book I really felt like I saw myself in, and the first book where I connected so much with a main character that I was actually crying of happiness. If you read it, I hope you love it, and if you’re a member of this community, I appreciate you so very much.

Tori @houseofaureums , book blogger / bookstagrammer

To me, the YA community means a lot of things and my experience has been really mixed over the years. Thanks to YA books and the love I share for them with others, I got to talk to a lot of people, mainly through social media, some of which have turned into great friends over time. I started getting into books only thanks to YA in the first place so obviously it means a lot to me, but in a way, I guess being in this community also helped to shape me into the person I am today––especially through the diverse community on Twitter I’ve learned to do better as a person. But thanks to YA, I also discovered my passion for writing which now is a huge part of my life. I’ve also made a bunch of negative experiences, especially because I always feel like there’s a huge pressure to like what everyone else in the community likes as well, and if you don’t, you often feel excluded if not even are judged/bullied for it––I went through all of it. Plus, you often get shut down or even harassed for voicing your opinion on harmful books, often even by adults which can get pretty terrifying, but surely you know what I’m talking about .

My book recommendation might be clichéd but I’ll always pick Shatter Me (the trilogy as a whole, not only the first book) because Juliette’s character development throughout the series is what also inspired me to become a better person and in a way, her development also resembles what I’ve undergone in my teen years––she showed me how to accept myself and to embrace and stand up for myself no matter what.

Christina @CemN1999 , booktuber / Instagrammer

The Bookish YA Community, especially the teenagers that I interact with are the ones that keep me going. They helped me realize that sometimes I actually look okay and that I’m now comfortable with being a demiromantic bisexual YA reader. When I first discovered the YA community I rarely interacted with others especially not teens, mainly because I didn’t search for nor did I know about them. My own depression and how classmates had treated me, made me hesitant to actually interact once found people. I was afraid of exclusion. Once I started reaching out and diversifying my feeds afraid of overstepping, being annoying and ignorant, I was only met with support and appreciation. I wasn’t excluded for being weird, too loud or too quiet. This community accepted the awkward and always learning Swedish teenager that I am. I’ve found humans which I’m able to discuss problematic aspects and good representation with as well as my own emotional state and our countries current situations. I’ve found friends that I will always cherish.

If it weren’t for this community I wouldn’t have found Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz. The first book I ever read with a bisexual MC in ED recovery. As a bisexual teen in ED recovery this book means a lot to me, then that the MC is black and that it’s a POC on the cover is something I know matters too as it represents others that so rarely get represented. This community has given me book recommendations where I’m able to see myself and given me TWs for books so that I can protect myself. It has educated me to hopefully do the same to others. It’s changed the way I view the world and myself, my values and most importantly it has kept me alive.

Maha @younicornreads , book blogger / bookstagrammer

I joined the book community on twitter about two years ago. I had a bookstagram before but wasn’t 100% involved like i am now. I must admit it took me a hard time to build a follower base and make friends, not only because i didn’t know how to do so, but because i felt like i was talking to a wall. People praised big and famous blogs, and i kept comparing myself to them so i didn’t know if what i did would aim to something. Fortunately i didn’t give up, and now i get interaction. And i have internet friends, who are amazing. The point of this messy paragraph is that, while i still don’t feel 100% involved in the book community, it’s a really amazing one, most people there are so kind, and i couldn’t be more thankful for it.

As for the one book that means a lot to me, I have a lot of those, but i’ll have to go with Written in the Stars by aisha saeed. it portrays a muslim main character as she has to face forced marriage, and honestly, it’s one of the best books i have ever read. so amazing and so eye-opening. and as a muslim teen myself, it has a dear place in my heart (along with 100+ other books).

Liv @grangerliv , book blogger

My love for books sprouted in 2013 with the rising popularity of Divergent. All my friends were talking about it, so I decided to give it a shot. I completely fell in love (note: this was in 7th grade so who knows if I would like Divergent as much if I had read it now). After discovering my love for reading, I joined the instagram book community. I then realized that I didn’t feel as connected to instagram, so I decided to try out Twitter. At first, was my personal Twitter. I switched to books after I began my blog. My journey with the YA Twitter book community has been rocky to say the least. I have met some amazing people on here and learned more about the world around me. However, many of my insecurities come from this platform. I always feel like I’m never good enough for the community. I thought it’d go away when I reached 1K followers. It didn’t. I thought it’d go away when that really well known blogger followed me. I didn’t. I thought it’d go away when an author I admired followed me. I didn’t. What I basically had to teach myself was the only person I had to be good enough for was myself.

If I were to recommend one book, I’d recommend Tash Hearts Tolstoy. Tash Hearts Tolstoy is my ultimate love. It’s the first book that I read with a confirmed ace character (I am also ace), and it made me so incredibly happy. Also, the storyline and characters are wonderful so that’s a plus.

Maddy @Maddylee , booktuber

I joined BookTube almost two years ago. After watching a couple of the big BookTubers I cracked out my phone and hit record talking about bookhauls, reviews, etc. Every now and then I would question why I decided to join because of how little I filmed and how little views I was getting. I was commenting, watching other videos and such. I was reading more books and falling in love with characters, but they became stale over time and I kept watching the same kind of videos over and over again until the doubt crept back up. It was a gradual change of getting back into it. I still kept getting wrapped up in the same old videos and type of books. When I reached out and followed all the wonderful bloggers who spoke about diversity, my experience got so much better. I have made so many friends and have learned about so many topics. It flourishes and pushes us all to read and do better about everything in the community.

A book that I recommend is Far From You by Tesse Sharpe. The book features bisexual and disabled representation and it is heartbreaking and beautiful.

Savannah @ThebooksProphet , book blogger

When I discovered the online book community I was 14 or 15 years old I was quickly well-aware of how young I was compared to a large majority of people in the community and felt like I wandered into some sort of foreign territory. I eventually made friends with people of all ages and the entire online blogging community has been so supportive of me but occasionally I do still feel like a foreigner. With the recently published article about how ‘toxic’ and ‘juvenile’ the YA community is, that stone I threw into the ocean three years ago got thrown right back at me, full force. I wasn’t able to read the
entire article so I can’t say much on the subject, but what I can say is that by being a teen blogger in the YA community and having that article directed at those in my age group, I became self-conscious and scared of what the adults in this community thought of me knowing my age. It’s come to the point where I have begun to analyze every tweet I send out two or three times before I click the button to make it public out of fear for being judged or called juvenile and childish. That being said, I feel like I belong in this community, but every once and a while something comes along and makes me feel unwelcome. This shouldn’t happen.

A book I recommend is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Breeny @Breenysbooks , book blogger

My experience in the YA Twitter community has been nothing short of awesome. I joined immediately after I started book blogging this year in April, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve met and become mutuals and friends with such amazing, talented, and passionate individuals. In particular, the teen mutuals and friends that are present the community inspire me to keep pushing, whether it’s in terms of blogging or life in general. Another aspect of YA Twitter that I love is how there’s both a passion for pushing for diversity in books and the publishing industry, and a passion for making the YA Twitter community as inclusive as possible. There’s still much to be done, but it’s awesome to work alongside others, especially teens, who are passionate about both of those things. I’m grateful to be a part of the YA Twitter community, and to interact with my fellow teens that help make the community so special.

The Hate U Give is an incredibly powerful book that’s definitely needed, especially in this day in the age. Starr is AMAZING, and it was awesome to see her go through some of the same experiences that I go through, or have gone through. THUG is definitely one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year, and it’s a story that will continue to stay with me for a long time to come.

Taylor @TaylorEliza6 , book blogger

I’ve been reading my whole life, but I really only felt connected and less alone when I discovered the YA internet community. I discovered it via YouTube, and ever since it’s been a great place for me to feel less alone since I was surrounded by those that loved the exact same things that I did. I’ve also made some of my best friends through the bookish internet, and I can barely imagine life without them anymore. Throughout the years my reading tastes have evolved to include more diverse reads, and the discussions those books have facilitated are a great opportunity for me to learn and grow in a way that I probably would not have been able to do otherwise.

A recommendation that I’d like to give is You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche, I’ll say it’s a bit unconventional being written in second person with five perspectives. The best way to describe it is if Fame happened in 2017, there’s a diverse cast of endearing characters, and it’s beautiful from begining to end. The writing can be jarring, but I promise it’s worth it!

Alice @arcticbookss , bookblogger / bookstagrammer

Hi everyone! I’m Alice. I made a blog in August 2015 (my blogoversary was just a few days ago actually!), and I joined Twitter and WordPress with really no idea what I was doing. At first, I merely followed some of the first book blogs that I ever stumbled upon, and as time went on, I became to discover even more amazing blogs run by equally amazing people. These people would soon become my go-to Snapchat friends or Twitter DMers, and I’m forever grateful to have met you all. There’s a lot more discussion about the importance of integrating diversity, and I’m beyond thrilled – from this, I feel like so many people have bonded with and supported each other in times of adversity, and I really appreciate this. As a queer woman of color, I feel less of an outsider and more of a part of a community that continues to change YA literature and take it from straight white males. Huge thanks to Fadwa for inviting me onto her beautiful blog. ❤ (You’re welcome, lovely! I’m honoured to have you)

One book that I’m absolutely in love with is Shatter Me, which has become one of my favorite novels. It’s by Tahereh Mafi, who is, I think, one of the most hilarious, gorgeous, and lovely authors ever. It’s poetic, romantic, and filled with kissing and metaphors. At this point, I’m down to read anything she writes.

Sierra @SierrawritesYA , writer

I first came into the young adult book community last year, when I created a Twitter to connect with other writers. I didn’t know how lucky I would be. Thanks to YA Twitter, my bookshelf is overflowing with books that have opened my eyes to new experiences, worlds, and laughter. My own writing has improved tenfold, as I’ve found critique partners and contests who push my writing to be the best it’s ever been. This community is so much more than books, though. This is a true family. There’s a swell of joy whenever one of our own gets a book deal, agent, or award nomination (and NYT bestsellers? Forget about it. Wednesdays are days of joy). I’ve seen people literally get housed and pay for surgeries because of crowdfunding. When somebody’s down, someone is always there with a message of support, a DM, and even free books to soothe. Yes, this community has its ups and down, and a lot of issues. We need to talk about those issues, and fix them. But 80% of people in YA are really, really good people. The young adult community gives teens a voice. I’ll be the first person to say that I wish teens had more of a voice in the community, but teens in the community lift each other up and support each other when adults don’t. It’s girl power to the max (and boys/enbies too!). The teens in the young adult community are going to change the world. Change publishing. Because this is a brilliant generation who are READY and WORKING to make this industry fair for all.

That’s it until next time.

If you’re a teen, what is your experience in the community?

If you’re an adult, what do you think we can do to better teens’ experience?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.


10 thoughts on “Teens in the YA community: Experiences + Recommendations

  1. I loved reading about some other teen’s experiences in this community! I’ve also found some great new people to follow 😀


  2. I am an adult, but I wish I had found out about book blogging sooner. I have home school due to me epilepsy for much of my teen years, and this can make it hard to find friends. I still have epilepsy, though better controlled and some OCD, so I am still doing distance ed. I am very impressed with the subjects found in YA books. Some of them are braver then adult books. I think we should all be respectful of everyone we talk to on the blogging community regardless of age. I have made friends from around the world from all ages and I respect all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is amazing! I am a teen in the YA community and often feel the same way. I was surprised at first to find out just how many adults dominate the YA community, and how hard it was to find other teens. Don’t get me wrong, I love the adults in the community and some of them are really supportive, but I’m always scared that they’re judging me for being so young or discounting my opinion because I’m younger than everyone else and my experiences are different than theirs. This is a great post because now I can find other teen bloggers like me so thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What you did for this post, Fadwa, is amazing. Seeing all of these teens and their thoughts is wonderful to read. I hate how some of them feel and hope this community continues to do better for them. They deserve that. I’m glad I have a place to come to though and remind myself of who this community is actually for. Sometimes we get entitled and we need a reality check and this is the perfect post for that so thank you for coming up with the idea. & a huge thank you to all the wonderful teens for contributing.

    Liked by 1 person

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