YA Reading Survey

I created a young adult reading survey, focused for teens who are already lovers of books.  I was interested in finding out what teens were reading, why they were reading those books, and how they discovered future reads.  I found out a lot about what teens are reading and where they get their recommendations but that was only the beginning.  The survey expanded my knowledge of what teens spend their free time reading and it wasn't always what I expected.  I discovered that every teenager has a different idea of their perfect read and it's impossible to judge the next big thing because that varies from person to person.

How old are you?
What are some books you've recently read for fun? (I picked the books mentioned the most.)

  • Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
  • Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
  • Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
  • The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

How many hours do you read per week for school? For fun?
How do you gain access to books? Public library, school library, friends, bookstore, etc.

Do you finish all books you start?

Do you talk to your friends about the books you read?

What is one book you would recommend to your friends? Can be new release or book you read a long time ago. (I picked books mentioned the most.)

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Books by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Books by John Green
Are you more likely to read a book if it's been made (or being made) into a movie?

How do you discover books you want to read?
What is the genre you read the most of?
Trendy Reading

Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine but I’ve never been one to read what was expected of me. Give me a classic and I’ll use it as a doorstop. Give me an action-packed fantasy novel and I’ll read it in one sitting. The books I read growing up were not always what teachers wanted their students to be reading but they couldn’t fault the fact that I was one of very few kids who were seeking out books in their free time. As a young adult book reviewer, I come in contact with many likeminded teenagers and what they currently seek out are the books I want to know about now. The popular books of today influence the books of tomorrow, the books I want to have a hand in publishing.

I had a very specific goal in mind when I came up with the questions for my reading survey: to find out what books teens want to read on their own time. However, the very goal of my survey requires one thing that not all teens necessarily do: read on their own time. Many teenagers don’t seek out books outside of the required reading they have to do for school. My survey would not have benefited from results from non-reading teenagers. That being the case, I went online to find survey participants. My survey participants range from ages 13 to 18 but the one thing they all have in common is that they all spend at least some of their free time reading books of their own choosing.

Narrowing down exactly what teen readers are reading is impossible. No one person will ever be able to put together a list of the exact books teens are interested in. All you can do is get a general idea of the things that appeal to teen readers and use that information to find out what books appeal to them. One of the biggest things I was interested in was genre. Many people mistakenly classify all young adult books as the young adult genre. It’s not a genre, it’s an age range. It contains all genres: horror, historical fiction, science fiction, etc. Narrowing down the most popular genres was surprisingly easy based on my survey results. The genres that were read the most by my survey participants were contemporary fiction, dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, and fantasy, in that order.

Having narrowed down the current popular genres, it brought me to the answers to another question. Many young adult books are currently being made into movies. The Fault In Our Stars, If I Stay, Divergent, and The Perks of Being A Wallflower are just a few that have recently made it to the big screen. When asked if having the book being made into a movie made them more likely to read the book, my survey participants, more often than not, said no. However, having looked at the genres they enjoy reading, one has to wonder if the current genres that are popular in movies have any influence on the genres they read. Contemporary fiction taking the lead was not at all what I expected but after looking at the many contemporary fiction novels that have been made into movies or are being made into movies, one has to think that that somehow plays a role in the current popularity of that genre.

Movie adaptations of books play bigger roles in popular genres than many people realize. One rather important question in my survey was about how people discover books they want to read. Of the many answers, quite a few people stated that they browse bookstores and check out books based on covers. If you go to any bookstore these days you will immediately notice the books with covers facing out. Those books get chosen based on popularity. If contemporary fiction is currently popular based on the success of a certain movie, other contemporary titles that might be considered similar would be chosen to have their covers facing out or to be placed on an end cap display. The same goes if a dystopian movie or maybe a science fiction movie is popular at the moment. If you take that kind of information into account you realize just how important movie adaptations can be to book sales and discoveries.

The popularity of movie adaptations of young adult novels has also changed the way many people look at the young adult age range. When I was in high school many of my friends thought the young adult age range was full of immature books for much younger readers. Now, however, people can see that that is not the case. While it’s not explicitly stated anywhere in my survey, I think this newfound popularity of young adult has allowed more readers to be open to talk with others about their reading habits. When asked if they talked to their friends about books they read my survey participants overwhelmingly answered yes and when asked how they discovered books they wanted to read, many of them stated that friends recommended them.

Recommendations clearly play a huge role in how readers discover new books. Young adult readers range from teens to adults but many of the teen readers discover their books through recommendations, often by people they don’t actually know. When asked how they discovered new books to read the answers always varied but more often than not the survey participants cited one or more online site for recommendations. Today’s teenagers are very online friendly and using the internet to promote a book is one way of bringing the books to the readers. Young adult literature has a huge online presence whether it’s from the author, the publisher, or just fellow readers. The marketing side of young adult literature has definitely taken cues from the online community and made their new releases and upcoming releases more accessible to teen readers through Youtube channels, websites dedicated to chapter samplers and giveaways, and huge Goodreads presences.

The online presence of young adult authors, publishers, and readers is only part of discovering new books though. Many survey participants mentioned family or friends who recommended books to them and set them on their journey. Many teenagers won’t seek out books without the influence of someone else such as a friend or a family member. No matter how big the online presence is, readers won’t seek it out without a push and that can come in the form of family, friends, teachers, or librarians.

Libraries are extremely important to today’s readers. When asked how survey participants gained access to reading material, almost all the participants stated that some of their books came from a library, whether it is the public library, school library, or a classroom library. Teens aren’t often the ones buying books but they are the ones reading them and accessibility is key, just as we discussed after the reading journey essays.

From the answers I received on my reading survey, it’s not obvious where people are on their reading journeys but you can start to see how even without outside intervention they are building their own reading ladders. When asked what books they have recently read for fun the survey participants often listed books within the same genre but at different levels of maturity and intensity. The concept of reading ladders is so basic that often readers don’t need someone to build one for them; they build them on their own without even knowing it.

While most of my survey participants have already set themselves on a reading journey of their own, others still focus more on their school reading than pleasure reading. One question that I really wondered about was how much time teenagers split between school reading and what they consider pleasure reading. Not surprisingly, the results were pretty inconclusive. Some readers spend almost all of their free time reading for class while others barely read at all for school but spend tons of time reading for pleasure. I can’t say whether this means some teens have less assigned reading or whether some teens just choose not to do the assigned readings. The only thing I can conclusively state from the results of that question is that readers associate these things separately; school is not pleasure reading, and reading for pleasure has nothing to do with school.

With that thought in mind, I took a look at the books my reading survey participants listed as ones they would recommend to their friends. Out of my twenty-eight participants only one recommended a book that would be considered a classic and as an aside they wrote that they recommended that one “cause everyone has read Harry Potter.” Other than that one result, the rest of the recommendations were relatively new releases, the majority of which were in the young adult age range with one being middle grade and two being adult. There wasn’t necessarily a common genre but most of the recommendations were books by popular authors or within a popular series.

The goal of my survey was to discover what would be considered the most popular genres for young adult readers and while it helped me narrow things down, it opened up many more questions. The popularity of certain books depends on a variety of things, many of which can’t be pinned down or duplicated. What is considered a trend one day could be over the next. The results of my survey are almost like a snapshot; narrowed down and only encompassing the results of a short time period. One of the major trials of working in publishing is that you don’t know when the current trend will end or what the next trend will be. All you can do is know your audience and focus on the general ideas and characteristics that appeal to them rather than a specific genre.


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