Let’s Talk: How old should readers be to read YA…considering ALL topics?


This week’s discussion is very much inspired by a few twitter friends I have, because 1. One of them (Erika) very specifically gave me this topic to write about and 2. Before that we had talked about something similar before as a group. I hope these people know who they are if they’re reading this because THANK YOU GUYS ❤ (and also there’s way too many of you to go through and link, I apologise. I hope this will do for now.) 

Anyway, I just thought they deserved some recognition first of all, since it wasn’t my idea.


The age old argument (no pun intended) of how old YA readers should be. Especially when it comes to *certain* topics.

Here we go!

Let’s talk about the age of YA readers!

who should read them

My answer? EVERYONE.

I don’t care that they’re targeted at teenagers. Although I do, technically, belong to that group.

I see people aged between 15-25 read YA most often. Which I would definitely class as “young adult”. But…I in no way believe you have to be within that age rage to read YA books.

Who should read YA books? Anyone who wants to read YA books. That’s who.

certain topics

Ahhh yes. There’s certain topics that can be a bit touchy in the YA section. I’m talking sexual content. Or mental health subjects that may be triggering/influencing. Or maybe even violence and death.

When it comes to these things, people can become a bit hesitant to let younger readers pick up YA books, despite them being specifically targeted towards them most of the time. And yes, I can see why in some cases. I mean A Court of Mist and Fury is in the YA section but I’m sure we all know by now that there’s a fair few racy scenes in that book. When it comes to mental health, or maybe just health in general, maybe some parents don’t want their children reading about that sort of thing. Maybe they’ve gone through something similar and fear it may be triggering. And violence…well, it’s not exactly nice, is it?

But I don’t think the problem is in the topics. It’s in the detail. 

Because if something is written in incredible detail…well, it’s going to hit the reader a bit harder, isn’t it? It can’t be skipped over and forgotten quite so easily.

I still don’t think that’s where the decision lies though.

It depends on the reader. 

The reader will know what they can handle. They’ll know what they want to read about. They’ll know if something may be triggering to them. They’ll know if sexual content will make them uncomfortable. They’ll know if they want to stay away from violent scenes.

So, I think that as long as books have a content warning on the back for sexual content/mental health/strong language etc etc…YA books can still be read by anyone as long as that’s what they WANT to read

If a reader has a good idea of what they’re getting themselves into, and they happily choose that book, then that book is for them. No matter their age.


My answer is still “everyone”.

I think there’s so much to learn from YA – not just the enlightening contemporaries, but the badass fantasies too – and no one should be restricted from that because someone believes it’s the wrong age for them.

And it’s entertaining! That’s what books are here for, to entertain us, so read whichever books you want!

YA books are literally only classed as YA because the main character is a young adult. It’s not about the content, or the writing, or the topics.

So if you want to read YA, read it. It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 years old and wanting to tiptoe into the genre and see what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you’re 50 years old and have been reading it for years. Or even the opposite way round – 12 and have read it for years / 50 and want to see what’s going on.

You do you. If you want to avoid certain topics, then sure – avoid them. But that doesn’t cancel out the entire YA genre, only a fraction of it. So read all the YA, no matter what age you are, if that’s what you want to read. There’s nothing stopping you 😀

Now it’s your turn!

What age range do you think YA books are targeted at?

Who do you think should read them?

Would you change your mind slightly if it came to topics such as sexual content/mental health etc?

Do these topics affect the age range of the readers?

Maybe you think there should be a warning?

Join the discussion in the comments!

Until next time…

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37 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: How old should readers be to read YA…considering ALL topics?

  1. As a *cough* slightly older YA reader I think there should be a bit of a cap. ..eg…Mist and Fury… I think it was sold as “new adult” as it’s a little racier but my fan instagram defo has 13 year olds on it and this worries me a little as I feel it sometimes restricts the things I might post…at 13 I didn’t know what sex involved and I don’t think i should have yet! Agreed, books should be for all…but I had to grow into some books and I think that’s true of many. Even when they have teen protagonists in…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okayy, fair enough. ACOMAF is definitely one of the more racier YA books (verging on NA), but from what I’ve seen, if sexual content is involved in YA it’s usually quite vague and with a warning. I had sex Ed lessons when I was much younger than 13, so it really is different for every reader 🙂


      1. Completely agree on that one. ..sex ed defo happens a lot earlier now I think too…. the lack of vague in acomaf I think was a rare treat..not fifty shades racey but more than I’ve seen in other YA novels. … I loved it all though…just going to have to do my thing as I do and if people don’t like my instagram or whatever I suppose that’s their thing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Everyone of course! I think that anyone should be able to read YA. I hate it when people say that they’re too old/young to read young adult, I completely agree with you! YA is for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you agree! And plus, YA is a HUGE genre, so it’s easy to find books in the genre that are suitable for different ages. It all just depends on different books 🙂


  3. I agree that it depends on the reader. I’ve never been bothered by any topic tbh but I know many young readers don’t feel comfortable reading about sex for example. I learnt about how sex works when I was 6 (a bit too young I’m aware lol) and I’ve been reading smutty fanfiction since I was like 11 so sex scenes have never really bothered me, wether they are explicit (like ACOMAF that I still think is really verging NA) or not. I mean I read 50 Shades of Grey when I was 13 or 14 and it didn’t mentally scar me like my aunt was worried 😂 However, I understand the worry and wouldn’t recommend 50SoG or other adult books (like Outlander for example) to younger readers. But if they said that they’re comfortable reading it I wouldn’t stop them or make them feel ashamed either. So I think YA books should include all topics and warnings if some are a bit more explicitly written and it should be up to readers to decide what they feel comfortable reading or not. Older people shouldn’t say “oh you’re too young for that” because we’re capable of evaluating if something is too much for us to read. And the same goes for those that say “oh you’re too old to read YA” that has just always really bothered me… Anyway, great post Ashleigh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Couldn’t have said it any better myself! I think people just need to stop judging what other people read and understand that just because they wouldn’t have read that particular book at that age, doesn’t mean no one else will 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely depends on the reader, especially since some people mature much more quickly/slowly than others. However, if it gets to be too much maybe there should be a warning or age suggestion on it?
    Great discussion topic! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Warnings are always a good idea, even if the content doesn’t seem that detailed. As long as people know what they’re getting into, then they can make their own mind up!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am a future teacher, so when I do my reviews, I keep in mind an Age Level. Of course, I think it depends with certain books on the maturity of the reader. Some young girls have been raped, sadly, so Speak would be appropriate in that scenario. I wouldn’t, however, want my 12 year old niece to read Alice in Zombieland, which almost happened thanks to a recommendation from a B & N employee. It’s a Harlequin Teen romance, and it has a lot more sexual content than I’m comfortable having her read. I know we can’t keep them pure and innocent forever, so I think it’s good to suggest a recommended age range, and then use good judgement. I was a mature reader when I was younger, but back then there weren’t YA books that dealt with any real issues, so I read a lot of Lurleen McDaniel (the only issues there were dying teens) and RL Stine (once again, dying teens…but because of murder). I thought high school was going to be full of bitchy girls trying to kill each other and dying terminal teens thanks to that combination! Lol!
    The books are much better now, and they appeal to a lot of teens with particular struggles (like gender identity, sexual abuse, anorexia).
    I always suggest what I think is appropriate in my reviews…but it is all subject to the needs of the reader. I have to be super careful because I am going to have angry parents if I give my students “inappropriate” content.
    And there’s no age limit! Ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most YA books/publishers now are catching on to the fact that there’s such a huge age range that read YA, because a lot of the books I see DO have some sort of warning or age guide (for example, just a sentence saying “content may not be suitable for people under the age of 12” – I see that quite often). It sort of reminds me of films…there’s an age rating/guide, but they’ll be watched by whoever wants to watch them. Understandable when it comes to recommended reading from schools though. Being recommended a book can be very different to someone choosing to read it themselves!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I agree.
        I’m glad though to hear that they are putting in little ratings like that for age groups: it will help when parents buy the books for their kids. Wouldn’t have mattered when I was young because I was just given money and told to go shopping. But it’s good to know there’s some sort of heads-up for the parents. And teachers.
        I do like Clean Teen Publishing…despite the name, not all the books they publish are “clean,” but they rate the level of different mature content on their website, which I like.
        Ooh, now I’m going to have to find a rating graphic for my posts! I can’t make them, but maybe I could find one online.
        Love that post, though…it makes you think.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally agree with you (like always). Everyone should read it. Obviously, as you said, it depends on the reader. I’m 21 but I think I want to read YA my whole life. Yeah, we’ll grow up and find other topics more interesting, but that doesn’t mean we won’t want to read YA. Great posts as always, Ashleigh.

    Thank you for mentioning our little group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nino ❤ And I'm glad you knew it was our group!
      I feel like I'll read YA most of my life too. I mean, obviously sometimes I'll stray into adult books, like I do now, but I just…I don't know. There's seems to be more choice in YA when it comes to things I like to read, and I don't think I'll ever get bored of it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ashleigh, I love your simple answer of everyone! I’m going to go on the opposite of what many of other commenters have said and talk about older folks (even though I’m not that old, I’m only 17). I think it’s ridiculous that people think YA novels aren’t as complex or well rounded as adult novels. It’s not like the tag of YA means the book was written by a 12 year old, but rather it’s the age of the protagonist. I can go on about this forever, but it simply bothers me when someone “attacks” you for your book preferences regarding your age.
    I also want to ask you if you’ve noticed that YA books seem to be targeting a steadily younger and younger audience? I’ve noticed more kids as what I was classify as tweens in the YA book section, and I’m curious what you think about that (curiosity killed the cat, right)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had plenty of rants in defense of YA when people claim it’s not as intelligent as your “normal” books. PLENTY of rants about that *shakes head* Some people just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that young teenagers and full grown adults enjoy these books just as equally.
      And yes, I have noticed that! But honestly? I think it’s because of the amount of attention adults who read YA bring them into social media! Like booktube for example. Most of the popular booktubers are in their 20’s – still fit into the “young adult” category in my opinion – and because of the amount of hype and encouragement there’s been in recent years, the reading audience has spread more so we see more younger people. Especially so when films like The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars became massively popular. If that makes any sense?
      I feel like YA is that huge as a genre, there’s almost a divide in books that are targeted towards the younger teenagers and the 16-20+ year olds (such as The Maze Runner vs A Court of Thorns And Roses)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh, I loved what you said about most of the booktubers being in their early to mid-20s! And I totally agree that films have an impact on the popularness of YA, in fact it even helps widen the group for all age ranges, because I know my friend’s mom just loves the Hunger Games movies.
        YA is most definitely huge, although I watched a video by Christine on Polandbananasbooks, and she brought up the point that YA is actually a so called “genre” (even though we all treat it as one), but rather the age of the protagonist. Such as adult books are all 20+, Middle Grade is child to early teens, and Young Adult is that phase between childhood and adulthood. I just liked how she phrased the separation.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. YES I’ve seen that video! I sort of think of YA as a parent genre, that’s home to loads of other genres like fantasy/contemporary/sci fi/ etc etc. YA literally IS just the age of the main character, so it bothers me when people claim teenagers are too young or adults are too old. Just…no. Let us read what we want, thank you very much!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I 100% agree, anyone should be able to read any book. You can be 15 and read Fifty Shades of Grey or 50 and read Harry Potter. It shouldn’t matter what age you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I would personally find it a bit weird though if my ten year old sister was reading the same books as me, haha. I think YA is for an audience of something like 13/14+. I just don’t think it’s any different to films having age certificates if they contain sex scenes or bad language, etc, and just because it’s in book form, doesn’t mean it’s any more suitable for younger audiences. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True. A lot of the time there’s warnings on the back for books like that, just a sentence or so saying “content may not be suitable for people under 12”, and like with DVDs I think it’d be great if there was some sort of age guide to follow for those not sure. It can become really difficult though to give a book and age, since everyone’s opinions will be different. I think that’s why only vague warnings can be given, and the readers have to judge for themselves 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I agree, and it’s definitely a good idea to have a small warning on the back preparing the reader for contents like this. It’s a really interesting discussion, I really enjoyed your post. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great discussion post, Ashleigh and I definitely agree that everyone should be able to read whatever they want to read. YA is often shunned as being too “simple” when that’s simply not true – there are so many YA books out there that deal with hard-hitting, important issues in the most sensitive, poignant way. They’re often overlooked simply because older people label them as “simple.” It sucks.

    I definitely see why some people are hesitant about putting sex in YA books. Personally, I think it’s just like sex ed, you know? We expose children to topics of sex in school so they are careful about them, so they don’t think it’s “taboo,” and to simply eliminate sex from YA completely defeats that purpose. You’re DEFINITELY right about the details- but again, I think readers should be able to decide for themselves. I’ve often thought about putting ratings on books like they do on music albums that have that sticker that says “explicit content.” Perhaps they could start putting that sticker on books too so people will know what they are getting into without getting the shock of their lives when they read something like, say, A Court of Mist and Fury. xD

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you agree! I hate it when YA is labelled as “simple” – it couldn’t be further from the truth! And I get exactly what you mean about Sex Ed. We learn about it from a young age so there’s no use hiding it.
      I’ve noticed that a lot of contemporaries have content warnings, but not so much fantasy and other genres, so maybe it just needs to be spread more?


  11. I totally agree that YA is for everyone! I don’t think it’s a limit on “who” should be reading it, more like an indication on what age the characters are going to be. *nods* Which makes sense to me! I think it’s definitely okay to have mental illness themes in YA because a lot of teens go through that and sometimes they don’t even know what they’re going through, and it’s really helpful to read about it. I think sex has it’s place too, but not graphic/explicit sex. (I think ACTOAR is Adult.😂 I mean, the characters are in their twenties and there is detailed sex so…adult.) Not to say teens can’t read adult either. THEY CAN. But I think it’s good that there’s age categories to give us an indication of what the book is going to be about, not to limit WHO can read said topics. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well said! I think more people need to realise that “young adult” is referring to the main character, not the readers. Whether the characters and readers have the age in common isn’t really important.
      ACOTAR is usually classed as “New Adult” now purely because of the saucy scenes, but I think Feyre is 19 which is why it’s classed as YA in most bookstores (at least here in the UK). It’s hard to put an age on books, really.
      As for mental health & sex as topics, most teenagers are finding out about things like that around that age, so why shouldn’t they explore it through books too? 🙂
      It’s all a big confusion of opinions really. I can only say it’s down to the readers to decide for themselves what they want to read!
      Thank you for stopping by!


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