Humor books are some of the most popular children’s books on the market, from Wimpy Kid to Dog-Man. Yet, when young readers transition from middle-grade books into young adult books, the types of stories they may have enjoyed are often lacking. Search for “humorous YA books” online and you will likely end up with two distinct categories: dark humor and rom coms. Readers looking for stories that are funny, but not too dark, or funny, but not romantic, are out of luck.
The lack of funny YA books is truly surprising considering how many readers love comedy. It only seems natural that publishers and YA authors would want to tap into the market that has made so many humorous children’s books bestsellers. And yet, the YA shelves are largely dominated by the same types of books: high fantasies, contemporary romance, occasional forays into sci-fi (often “kissing in space”), and the odd historical fiction. Humor, as a genre, is mysteriously absent.
Perhaps the lack of funny books is a response to the tastes of adult readers, who have been driving the YA market and arguably creating the success behind darker YA titles such as Six of Crows. But YA is still for teens and teen readers, I believe, would still like to read something funny. Readers who enjoy comedy in middle school do not simply stop loving funny stories in high school. Readers who enjoy certain types of stories often want to continue reading similar stories as they age.
And, really, it seems like writing a funny book for teens should be not that hard to do–I bet plenty of authors could easily create comedy out of a myriad of high school experiences, if nothing else. Wimpy Kid already proved a writer can make a success out of humorous school stories. I do not see why someone could not do something similar with teen characters confronting all the challenges of high school. I do not see, for that matter, why someone could not write a funny story for teens set in space or in a medieval castle or anywhere at all.
I believe there is a market for humorous YA books that extend beyond dark comedy and rom coms. I hope that we see funny books for teens released in the near future. But, for now, I can only wonder why an entire genre seems to be missing from YA.