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A genre is written for young adults to bridge the gap between childhood and emerging adulthood. To be honest, Y. A is a category in which all types of the genre are possible to be explored: science fiction, contemporary, fantasy, and even non-fiction. Ergo, Y. A necessarily does not have to be encompassed in a college campus with teen lovers and their blooming romance; since that is not just the part of young adulthood.
This brings us to the question of representation and diversity in Y. A Literature. It is quite easy to understand that since high school, one is exposed to the same canonical works of dead white novelists such as Shakespeare, Dickens, etc. High school students are taught the same standard bunch of literary works that not all of today’s generation youngsters find it relatable. Educationalists who are thoughtful about the literature to be added in the curriculum aren’t much as thinking about the students and their communities.
In the essay titled “Culturally Diverse Literature: Enriching Variety in an Era of Common Core State Standards” by Fenice Boyd, culturally diverse books include protagonists who have been marginalized. It also includes storylines relating to sexual orientation and racial issues, but now also surrounds varied family structures, disabilities and much more.
The essence of Y. A category being to fetch a fair exposure to all young adults irrespective of varying religion, faith, gender, race, identity, and issues they face, seems to be forgotten. Three questions have risen as concerns amongst students:
- Who is the most underrepresented in Y. A category books?
- Why are authors not focusing on the extensive range of issues faced by young adults but only a few which have already gained too much exposure?
- How can diversity be increased in this category?
While addressing these questions, ‘mirror’ and ‘window’ books can be employed. A ‘mirror’ book is one that students find relatable to their culture and community, and a ‘window’ book is one that is completely unrelated to the students’ culture and race. Exposing students to ‘window’ literature is a good opportunity to instil values of empathy and curiosity amongst students.
Thus, efforts need to be undertaken to modify the curriculums and interests of readers to include characters who belong to a wider variety of cultures that are less heard of. That would fulfil the sole purpose of Y. A category and help to keep it in constant demand amongst youngsters.