The Ultimate Parents Guide to Popular Young Adult Series

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Young adult (YA) literature is a book category for readers between 12 and 18 years old, though some books are popular with those above or below this age range. They span different genres, including fantasy, science fiction, mystery, romance, and comedy. Many focus on young protagonists who go through coming-of-age challenges, engage in self-discovery, and overcome adversity to find their place in the world.

YA books are hugely popular, with numerous new publications each year. This category was worth $10.82 billion in 2021. As a parent, it can be challenging to vet all the options to see which series is best for your children.

First, you want books that will pique your child’s interest and get them excited about reading. At the same time, some books have themes that you might find inappropriate. Though geared toward a younger audience, these books can sometimes include profanity, sexual themes, violence, suicide, or criticism of religious beliefs.

Although many parents make sure their kids’ books are appropriate by reading them beforehand, this can prove to be time-consuming. Luckily, there are other ways to decide if a YA series or stand-alone novel fits with both your values and your child’s interests.

Scope Out Ratings and Reviews

Though the Motion Picture Association has standardized film ratings that help parents decide if a movie is suitable for their children, no such system exists for books. There are simply more books than movies, so assessing all of them would be too big a task for any rating board.

However, there are ways to learn what type of content a book has without reading it cover to cover. Parents can look at various book blogs to get a feel for the story. YouTube reviews provide a similar overview of popular YA series, and you can also look at popular book sites to see user reviews.

Here is a closer look at how parents can use these sources.

Book Blogs

Book blogs typically have in-depth reviews and star or point rating systems that allow you to see how your chosen YA novels stack up against others on the market. Reviews may be subjective, but if you read one, you will get a synopsis of the plot and storylines and an idea about the content.

Often, parents’ blogs may also offer lists of YA novels. Some of these provide suggested age ranges for the books.


YouTube reviews offer similar insights. As with book blogs, you may be able to find reviews that are parent-oriented. These will include the age-appropriateness of the book so that you can gauge whether or not the content is suitable for your children.

A lot of younger content-makers put their book reviews on YouTube, so you can see what your child’s peers think about a given book rather than simply selecting based on whether or not you think it has objectionable content.

Review Sites

If you shop for your books with an online retailer, you should be able to read individual reviews and also get an overall rating score that combines all the reviews posted on the site.

You can also use third-party review sites. Goodreads and Library Things are two of the most popular and widely-used book review sites. They both feature user-generated content, so you can often find write-ups from people with similar tastes and values and use their insights as a resource for selecting books for your teen readers.

Booklist is a long-time print publication that also has a digital subscription. You have to pay to read full reviews (though you can read snippets for free), but it may be worthwhile because all the articles come from members of the American Library Association, so you will be getting expert views rather than user-generated opinions.

Check Out “Best Of” Lists

Another way to discover new YA books is to read “best of” lists. A quick search will lead to plenty of listicles featuring the best YA books. These indexes are bound to be somewhat subjective, but they will help you see what is available and give you a starting point for further research.

If your child is interested in a specific type of fiction, you can look for lists or rankings that feature books from that genre. As certain genres become more populated, lists about the best magic-oriented YA series may come in handy for any parent who may be feeling lost after their teen has read and re-read classics like the “Harry Potter” books.

These lists are likely to include age-appropriate books that other readers or the author have vetted and found suitable for young readers. Good rankings should not just include the titles, but they should also have a brief synopsis of the book or series.

Follow YA Social Media Pages

YA literature has given rise to large fan communities on social media platforms. Like-minded readers can find each other on these sites and share content about their favorite books, series, and authors. Users on social media pages and groups are often plugged into the YA literature scene and can provide insights into the latest releases, upcoming books, and new series.

Book influencers, in particular, can provide the type of information that you need to decide what books are best for your teen reader. Because influencers publish regularly, they are not just one-time resources, like best-of lists. You can come back repeatedly to get new content and insights and learn about different books.

Searching for a specific book title, author, or genre can lead you to these groups on social media platforms.

Read the Books Yourself

If you find a series that you think your child might enjoy, you can read the first book yourself to get a feel for the type of content it discusses and whether or not your child will be interested.

Though these books are geared toward teenage readers, they are often popular with people of all ages. “The Dresden Files”, for example, is a blend of fantasy and mystery that appeals to teens and adults who grew up reading “Harry Potter” and similar fantasy series.

Other series, such as “Divergent” and “Hunger Games”, are wildly popular and have dystopian themes that parents who grew up reading 1984, A Brave New World, and Handmaid’s Tale will find familiar.

Additionally, well-known series, like the “Twilight Saga” and “Throne of Glass”, are geared toward young adults but also have elements that adult fans of vampire and medieval fantasy romance will find engaging.

With all these series and many other popular YA titles, parents might not mind reading a book or more to get a feel for the content and storylines. In some cases, you may even find the series engaging enough to read a second, third, or fourth novel. If you get into the stories, you can have something to discuss with your children if they pick up the series, too.

Browse Popular YA Sections

You can also simply browse through the YA sections of an online bookstore, brick-and-mortar retailer, or library. Whether in person or online, you can read excerpts and look at the jacket to get a feel for the content of the book.

You can then go home and use other resources to research the books that looked interesting to you or that you think your child might like.

Leave Pre-Screened Books Out at Home

After you’ve chosen books that fit your values and your child’s tastes, you should make them accessible. For example, you can purchase a copy and keep it out around the house on a coffee table or bookshelf. This increases the chance that the child will pick up the book and start reading.

Another advantage of purchasing the books yourself is that you can block off or remove sections or words that you find objectionable.

Try Not To Worry Too Much

While helping your teen find suitable books, you do not want to over-censor their reading. This could turn them off from literature altogether instead of inspiring them to read more.

If your teen shows interest in books that aren’t age-appropriate, you can suggest similar YA series that fit better with their age range. Or, you can teach them to use their judgment and vet the books themselves. You can build trust and encourage them to put down books when they come across content that isn’t age-appropriate.

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