The Great American Read’s short summary of the evolution of YA fiction is really fascinating. As a form of art, it is a relatively new phenomenon in literature.
It is only in the last fifty years that a distinction started to be made between books for adults and books for young adults.
Then, the Harry Potter series, Twilight series, and the Hunger Games series were so massively successful that they ushered in many more similar books like them.
The more I see successful “YA” books, the more I am convinced by what Orson Scott Card said upon winning an award for writing young adult fiction:
“There is no such thing as children’s literature.”
In essence, young adult fiction means that the main character is a teenager. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. (I mean a book about kids killing each other? C’mon, is that really appropriate for young adults?)
The same rule of thumb goes for middle grade fiction and children’s fiction. When the protagonist is a child then the book must be a child’s book.
When he or she is in middle school, then the book gets categorized as middle grade fiction.
In truth, the terms misleading. Adults read and love books categorized as children’s books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction. They read them with or without their kids.
Still, it is interesting to see how books with kid protagonists have developed over time. Check out the video. It is very informative.