What is Crossover Books? Definition and Examples

Crossover books is a term that came to prominence in the 1990s, used to describe books when it is written for children or young adults but attracts a healthy adult audience. For example J. K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, originally published for children but also successful with adults. Also, we consider a novel “crossover” when it is written for adults but young adults read and spread the word about it. Think—George R.R. Martin andGame of Thrones.  Lewis Carroll’s novel written for children, Alice in Wonderland is also a perfect example of a crossover novel.

The term is recent, the phenomenon is not: many 19th-century books, including those by G. A. Henty and Frances Hodgson Burnett, appealed to dual audiences. In the later 20th century, the popularity of fantasy blurred literary and audience distinctions; Richard Adams’s best-selling Watership Down (1972) was issued with different covers for adults and children, now a common feature of crossover books.

Family stories written for teens with crossover to adults:

  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Friendship, Diversity)
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green (First love, grief)
  • The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (Mental illness, grief)
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Family secrets, loyalty)

Family stories written for adults with crossover appeal to young adults:

  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Loyalty)
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Technology, Relationships)
  • Disgruntled by Asali Solomon (Belonging, Diversity)
  • Once upon a River Bonnie Campbell (Independence, courage)