What does John Green contribute to YA Literature?

With only four independent works to his name, John Green is certainly not the most prolific YA author, but his work is very important to YA literature.  He published Looking for Alaska in 2005, An Abundance of Katherines in 2006, Paper Towns in 2008, and The Fault in Our Stars in 2012.  He has also collaborated on another book entitled Will Grayson, Will Grayson with YA author David Leviathan in 2010.  Looking for Alaska, Green’s first novel, won the Printz Award in 2006.  Green won the Edgar Award in 2009 for Paper Towns (Green, J., n.d., John Green’s Biography).

John Green’s body of work impressively has the ability to be challenging, intriguing, and relevant to teens.  Aside from stylistic merit, his work is important because it introduces teens to literature in an accessible way that empowers them.  The author believes that “a book is something that happens in conversation between a reader and a writer.” (Green, n.d., Movie Questions).

When asked about how to interpret or read the metaphors and symbols in his book, Paper Towns, Green gave his standard reply:  “a book belongs to its reader” (Green, n.d., Questions about Paper Towns).   This is an amazing way to present the concept of reading to (possibly reluctant) teenage readers.  Instead of feeling pressure to conform to the author’s point of view and try to decode the novel to determine the author’s intent, Green’s philosophy allows for the possibility of open conversation.  Green stresses the point that every reader brings something different to the interpretation of a book and this point of view is important and valid.  Validating everyone’s points of view also encourages a culture of acceptance when it comes to book discussions.  Teens who only read for assignments and are accustomed to reading books to find key facts or to regurgitate a particular viewpoint would certainly benefit from hearing that they have something valuable to contribute.


Green, J. (n.d.). John Green’s Biography. In John Green:  New York Times Bestselling Author. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://johngreenbooks.com/bio-contact/,

Green, J. (n.d.). Movie Questions. In John Green: New York Times Bestselling Author. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://johngreenbooks.com/movie-questions/.

Green, J. (n.d.). Questions about Paper Towns (SPOILERS!). In John Green:  New York Times Bestselling Author. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://johngreenbooks.com/pt-questions/.




Filed under John Green Project

4 responses to “What does John Green contribute to YA Literature?

  1. Do you think his books are worth the hype? I have heard of them, notably Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, but I haven’t read any of his work. I’m no longer a teenager (nearly 21, eek! It feels strange to be another year closer to 30, haha!). Would I still enjoy his books or are they very much targeted at the teen age range?

    • I think his books definitely have crossover appeal. If you’re open to reading YA lit, I would definitely recommend them. They are written for teens, so they take place in high school and deal with a lot of teen issues, but he’s really writing about themes that would interest adults, too.

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