Let me tell you how often I have been told that popular books are not "literature" or are "irrelevant". It seemed to me that every time I told someone that I liked reading, they would ask me what books I read, and anything other than classic literature was basically not considered literature at all, and it angered me so much. Popular reads and Y.A. contemporaries are so much more than a simple "teen's book" with "no relevancy" and here is why.
1) Teens relate to the protagonists
Yes, Jane Austen has written amazing novels but it is hard to relate to any of her characters, whereas in Y.A., the characters are not only closer to us age wise, but also through the different problems they go through. In Isla and the Happily Ever After for example, she has to face the hugely tough decision that is to choose a college. It is probably one of the hardest things teens have to do nowadays, and classic literature just doesn't help us with that the same way contemporaries do.
2) The setting
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but really important. In contemporary literature, especially in young adult, it is always set around events that concern teens. High school bullying, suicide, shopping mall, at a part-time job, etc. In classic literature, things were not at all the way they are now for young adults, and the setting in the books that we are currently reading are easier to picture ourselves in and to understand what is happening.
3) The themes
A main thing that I like about literature nowadays is the fact that sex is not taboo. In no classic book will you find teens having sex, and having it written explicitly. However, the topic of (safe) sex is very important and is something that definitely has to be taught to us teenagers. Dating and hook ups are explored in young adult books, which is great, but also a curse because of how they are sometimes so horribly done. Watch this video to see what I'm talking about, Emmmabooks is amazing!
4) The writing
One big reason why teens do not like to read is because they have never found a book they liked. Therefore, starting with relatable, light-hearted and well and simply written books is a must to build a strong love for reading. Forcing someone who hates reading to read a classic is the worse idea ever. However, make him/her read some Ernest Cline or Stephanie Perkins, and as they read, they might start noticing that they actually do like to read. The writing in Y.A. is usually very easy to understand, and the language is a lot more understandable to teens. When there is swearing in contemporaries, it isn't bad; it's just keeping things real. Which is awesome.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and let me know if you agree with me on anything! I genuinely think that popular reads are really important in getting teens into reading and that they should even be found in curriculums!