Enticing Readers: The Teen Romance Craze

Publication year

This is a paper which was presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Reading Association (29th, Atlanta, GA,May 6-10, 1984). It is available from ERIC, with ERIC Number: ED245196.

Here's the abstract:

With the rise in popularity of teen romantic fiction, many teachers wonder about the nature of such books and whether they should be used in the reading program. Most of the teen romantic fiction is written to a well-defined formula, based on guidelines from the publishers and on high-interest low-vocabulary literature. Characteristics with the most appeal for students include simple and direct story line, a lot of action and dialogue, and tight writing with short, simple sentences. Female central characters involved with slightly older, handsome, sensitive boys, in familiar teen settings such as school, beaches, or fast-food restaurants are also features specific to romance series. Advertising campaigns for these books are targeted specifically for teenage girls, which accounts in part for their popularity. This popularity may also be a reaction to the so called "problem novel," or due to a desire to feel good and self-confidant about boy-girl relationships. Teen romances have been criticized as sexist and stereotypical, but many librarians support them as one component of a well-balanced reading program, and a stepping stone to books with a romantic element but with greater literary value. Research on reading interests indicates that romances are widely read and in great numbers, by junior and senior high school students. Students who read teen romances, however, indicated that they also read other kinds of literature; the paper concludes that teachers may safely and enjoyably include them in their reading programs.