Let’s Talk Bookish – Sexual Content in YA

Good morning my lovely readers! I hope you are having a fantastic day. Welcome to Let’s Talk Bookish. Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Sexual Content in YA – Is there too much sexual content in YA books?

This topic was suggested by the lovely Ruqs @ Many Things Bookish, so thank you so much! If you’d like to suggest a topic as well, head over to my contact page, or use this form to share your suggestion!

I think that yes, there is too much sexual content in YA books.

First, I think we need to define what YA is. YA books, an acronym for Young Adult books, are books aimed at teenagers between the ages of around 12 to 18 (Wikipedia). Just from this, then YES, absolutely, there is too much sexual content in YA books, especially if there are 12 year olds out there who are reading such books.

But I’ve noticed that some people have started to classify some books as Upper YA, meaning that it’s for the older kids in this age range, or basically it’s not for young kids. This helps a lot because then it’s easier to guess which books are going to be more…explicit than others.

I also think there is a difference between romance and sexual content. Romance doesn’t have to be 100% bad, and it doesn’t have to become sexual content either. It can be just that, romance.

Sexual content however, is on another whole level, and I think there should be warnings, or something that lets the reader know that this isn’t the perfectly innocent book that they plan to read. Especially for books in the YA region, which are read by young kids, and older teenagers (even adults) alike. Adults or older teenagers may not mind much, but the younger ones shouldn’t have to be exposed so early on to this kind of thing. It wouldn’t hurt to put a note at the beginning of the book warning the reader about what they’re about to experience.

And this isn’t just for protecting younger kids, it’s also for anyone who doesn’t want to read that kind of thing. I don’t want to be picking up a book looking for a heist or a mystery and then having to skip every other page because the two characters can not get their hands off each other. It makes me so mad, because it’s misleading to sell the book as something I want to read, and then fill the pages with so much stuff that I am 100% not here for.

I think an easy way to fix this is to create a different category for the younger half of the 12-18 range, and leave Young Adult for the other half. Or we could just call the more innocent books YA, and the other not so innocent ones Upper YA. I don’t know, but I think that something needs to be done about it,

This Week’s Participants:

Vicki @ Diverse Fantasy Reads | Jane @ Blogger Books

What do you think? Is there too much sexual content in YA books? Have you ever read a book and was disappointed to find out it was nothing like you expected? Should warnings be put at the beginning of the book or a new category should be created all together? Chat with me in the comments below!


25 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Sexual Content in YA

  1. I think there is definitely too much sexual content in YA. I remember reading books at age 12-14 and finding it was not what I was expected. I think at least on the back of the cover of a book there should be a content warning. YA books can be good, in fact better without sexual content. Think about the Hunger Games book. That was a hit but did not have any sexual content.

    Thanks for this discussion! πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you agree! Definitely, it was quite a shock, but I got used to it. Content warnings would be so helpful, and not just for sexual content, but for other triggers and things that not everyone wants to read. I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but it’s great to hear that it was still awesome without any extra content.

      You’re welcome, and thank you for reading πŸ’š

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on many things bookish and commented:
    Hey guys! I know I haven’t posted in FOREVER, school has been just a pain and I genuinely have struggled to find a spare minute so I hope you guys understand! I’m really disappointed I missed participating in this topic since it’s something that’s really important to me – but I hope you guys read this and find it interesting and do let me know your thoughts on this in the comments!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. personally I feel like sexual content does belong in (upper) YA because teens do have sex but I feel like there should be more of a division because 12-14 year olds could still pick them up if they’re put on the same shelves next to their usual books etc so I feel weird about that. i think i agree with the innocent/fade to black scenes being YA and the more explicit being upper YA aimed at 16+ year olds. but there should 100% be content warnings somewhere on the book where its easily spottable because some older teens might not want to read that for their own personal reasons and so younger teens can stay away haha. content and trigger warnings all need to be normalised

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it could stay in the Upper YA section, or it could just be put in New Adult like Meeghan suggested (which would save a lot of time/headache). Anything that is more adult or that deals with more serious themes should not be placed with normal innocent books that kids read. Oh yeah, as long is it’s not explicit, I can kind of accept it being kept in Upper YA, but it should still have a warning, and if it is explicit, it should move to NA. Content/trigger warnings do need to be normalized, and it’s really helpful when other reviewers include them in their reviews since books don’t have them. Hopefully that will change in the future πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading πŸ’š


  4. I think anything with sexual content needs to be moved out of YA altogether and moved into New Adult. Partially to stop the younger teens reading it, partially because if the characters are 16-18 they probably shouldn’t be having mind-blowing sex all the time (because you have consent issues and legal age issues and you also give false hope to all the teens reading that their first time is going to be mind-blowing), and also, any characters aged 18+ (and therefore legally able to consent to so much sex) should fall into the New Adult category anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That would solve the problem completely, and it would make it much easier to pick up books without being worried that it might not be as innocent as it seems. And all those are valid issues, and I so agree with you! I’m so glad that there is now a New Adult category and hopefully books that aren’t exactly YA will now be classified as NA.

      Thanks for reading and commenting love πŸ’š

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post and topic! I’m so sorry for not participating this week, but I’ve had so much going on (yes, school, I am blaming you lol)! I absolutely agree with you: there should definetely be a warning. I read Throne of Glass 6 months ago and I couldn’t believe the amount of sexual content. I just didn’t expect it to be this intense… But then I read some posts on sexual content in YA and ToG seems to be an inexhaustible controversy, so at least some people were as shocked as I am….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jane! Haha, school is very unforgiving and I understand. It would save so much time and shock if publishers/authors put a warning at the beginning of the book. I’ve heard that ToG is really intense and I’m sorry it was such a shock for you ❀ Yeah, ToG and SJM’s books in general seem to always be a controversy lol. Thanks for commenting dear, and I hope the stress goes away quickly πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome and thanks for the wishes 😘😘 yes, SJM’s books are such a controversy amongst bloggers! I actually enjoyed ToG (except that content) and it’s just sad when that content kind of destroys it… have you read it? And if so, did you like it?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, we have very different opinions, but I’m really curious about all this sexual content you’ve seen in YA. As I mentioned in my post I really haven’t read a lot of YA with what I consider sexual content and I’m curious if it’s a genre difference or just a luck of the draw type thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes, I’m about to go read your post! Usually, I think it’s mainly just certain YA books, and it kind of seems everywhere because these books are hyped so everybody is reading it. There are a lot of decent books without anything too steamy, but then, there are also some that are filled with that kind of stuff, and I think many of those are pretty hyped. One really popular series that I know of is the Throne of Glass series or the A Court of Thorns and Roses both by Sarah J. Maas (some of the books). It’s definitely not in every single YA book, and maybe it is just my luck, to be picking ones that do have that kind of stuff lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t read either of those books. I feel like I’ve read some heavy criticisms for them somewhere and so haven’t given them a read at all. I know that they are pretty hyped though and that I see them in most bookstore or stores like Target. Maybe it has to do with a lot of adult women reading a lot of YA? I know I saw a twitter post asking Holly Black when the characters in her book were basically going to get their sex scene so there’s obviously a bit of a push for some content of that nature

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, those books are pretty controversial around the bookosphere. They are insanely hyped everywhere and all over the place lol. That’s actually a good point. Many of YA readers, aren’t always teenagers, so maybe it’s kind of to give those who are older something more? But that’s not really fair, because YA is for young adults, not adults. If people want more, they should go read NA or Adult books.
          Wow, that’s…interesting. It’s really disappointing, because books can still be awesome without any of the extra content.

          Liked by 1 person

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