I had a thought the other day while walking home from the library – I can’t recall ever being called a “Young Adult” as a child or a teenager. “Young Lady” once in a while, but no good sentence ever started with (or ended with, or contained) the words “Young Lady.” So who came up with the idea of calling books for teenagers Young Adult books? I get that it was an attempt to find a label that wouldn’t seem childish and thus off-putting to potential readers, but it’s a pretty lame attempt. Most teenagers have a fair amount of contempt for adults, so using “Adult” isn’t necessarily going to gain you any points, and putting the “Young” in front of it just adds condescension. I’d be open to other suggestions, but as a stop-gap solution, I say call it “Teen.”
As for the 10-12 set, who are often reading from that section too, well, adults are lame and boring – who wants to be an adult? Whereas teenagers are cool. So I say skip straight from Young Readers (which is also an annoyingly condescending title, but its at least vaguely accurate, plus at that point you’re so excited to be reading real chapter books that it doesn’t matter so much what you call it) to Teen, and call it a day.
Note: I’m aware that the 10-12 age group is called “Tweens” now, but that word hadn’t been invented yet when I was 11, I can’t even think it let alone say it without cringing, and I’ve never heard it come out of the mouth of an actual *cringe* Tween. So not an acceptable bookstore label, IMO.
Note 2: Having done some cursory research, Barnes and Noble does in fact use “Teen”, although I have vague memories that this was not always the case. Amazon, and the Brooklyn and New York public libraries use Young Adult.