Juvenile literature: what it is, its origin, characteristics and authors


What is juvenile literature?

This type of literature gathers all those texts that are aimed at young audiences, in which teenagers are frequently found. Thus, they are texts that often have content related to processes experienced by young people of these ages, such as love, bullying, social misunderstanding, among others. However, the texts of this modality can be enjoyed by adult audiences.

What is juvenile literature

One of the key points to understand this type of literature has to do with the fact that the topics that are dealt with there are usually not so far away from the topics that are handled in adult literature, such as wars, tragedy, romance, among others. However, the treatment given to them is usually different, despite the linear work they usually incorporate, as well as the actions that are elements that are more relevant.

Origin of juvenile literature

In order to identify the first signs of juvenile literature, it is necessary to start from the context in which many of these texts that will later be catalogued in this modality are developed. This is due to the fact that in the middle of the 19th century one of the most important works of literature appears, called Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, which will have a very important echo in posterity.

This work is considered one of the most relevant in the literary world and became one of the most important references for the development of children’s literature and an inspiration for juvenile literature. This is how, subsequently, other works began to emerge at the end of this century and the beginning of the twentieth century, establishing themselves as texts that, in addition to being located in children’s literature, would become the access for juvenile literature.

During this time, one of the writers who had begun his creative process in works of this type, created what would be the most important works of juvenile literature and later inspired the film adaptation, it is J.R.R. Tolkien with his work The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, laying the foundations for the development of fantasy literature. This process was joined by C.S. Lewis, another of the most important figures in juvenile literature with works such as The Chronicles of Narnia, among other key works.

From this moment on, writers such as Roald Dahl, Jude Blume, Susan Cooper, among others, began to write this type of texts that publishers would identify as being of interest to the adolescent public, which showed that they were looking for the interest of this particular part of the public. At present, we have seen the variety of topics that abound in juvenile literature, within which we find controversial topics such as sex, racism, among others.

Development of juvenile literature

In the exploration and creation of authors of juvenile literature, a series of elements are present as a result of the transit and evaluation of children’s literature in order to find works for this type of public. That is why nowadays, many of the works of literature for young people are oriented to the intellectual development of adolescents, providing tools not only for their academic life, but also for their formation in social and psychological life.

That is why the narratives, being one of the most important genres of this literature, are usually written in the first person. It is known that this type of narrator allows the adolescent or young person to place him/herself in the place of the protagonist, to which is added a theme with which he/she can identify and which contributes even more to this. The character is often presented with a wide variety of realities and aspects that the adolescent may be experiencing, a key resource for this type of literature.

Main characteristics of juvenile literature

Main characteristics of juvenile literature


One of the most important features of this type of texts are the themes that are handled in their development, since they are often works whose themes focus on their environment in order to attract their attention. In this way, they include topics related to their life, their environment and any other topic that allows them, in many cases, to feel identified.

Precise lexicon

According to the reading comprehension of young people at this stage, the use of the appropriate lexicon is one of the most important elements for writers of juvenile literature, since it must be within their reach and avoid, according to the audience, a lexicon they are not familiar with, either because of the time or another factor. However, it is not a basic lexicon, but is rich in variety, facilitating the progressive axis to improve the lexicon and bring it closer to other types of literature, for example.

Variety of stories

Although the themes usually have close associations, the truth is that in this type of texts we can also find a great variety of plots that not only explore different genres but also involve elements full of possibilities. Thus, within the stories we can find non-linear stories, stories with a much more complex plot, among others.

Character development

It is important to keep in mind that although in the texts of literature for young people the characters have an evolution in the development of the story, this is not usually so loaded in depth, as it is worked in literature for adults.

Space for all

A crucial element in the development of youth literature is the multiplicity of themes, as we have already mentioned. This gives rise to a type of text in which the intention is not to indoctrinate from a specific topic, as this could generate displeasure in the reader. Thus, literature for young people leaves taboos aside and incorporates a variety of topics from a careful treatment from the writer.

Most important authors of youth literature

Now, to conclude, we will take a look at the most important authors of this type of literature, as well as some essential works that have been referents for its evolution. Among the most important authors, we find: Susan Cooper, Judy Blume, John Green, Suzanne Collins, J.K Rowling, Veronica Roth, Anna Todd, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare.

Among the most representative works of this genre, we find the following: J.R.R. Tolkien with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis with works such as The Chronicles of Narnia, E.B. White with Charlotte’s Web, J.D. Slinger with The Catcher in the Rye, Roald Dahl, with his works Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Big Friendly Giant, Susan Eloise’s Rebels, The Witches and Tales of the Unexpected, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank, Carmen Laforet’s Nothing, Gabriel García Márquez’s The Shipwrecked Man’s Tale, among others.

To learn more about other types of literature, as well as literary genres, movements and more, don’t forget that in our “Types of Literature” section you will find the channel to find more information on this artistic expression with very interesting content.