Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why YA? Why? Won't somebody please think of the children!

So, I'm sure everyone's aware of this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, right? You know, the one that deplores the awful, dark, horrible world that is the YA landscape. I think it was written by this lady: 


Anyway, it's a pile of crap. That's my opinion. It wouldn't fill much space in the Wall Street Journal, and it's not my most eloquent argument ever, but I stand by it: it's a pile of crap. 

Kids are not stupid. Kids are smart enough to have their world view challenged. Kids need to have their world view challenged. And, unfortunately for a lot of kids, the world they inhabit is already dark, awful, graphic and violent. And you know what those kids need most of all? They need to know they're not alone. They need to know they can be strong, and that they are not a freak, and that if bad things happen you can overcome them. And it won't be easy, and it won't be pretty, but you can do it. And that's what good YA does. It gives kids courage, it gives kids hope, and it gives kids the knowledge that somebody out there is speaking their language. 

So what was my response to the article? I went straight to Amazon and ordered one of those awful, dark books. And next week, after pay day, I'm ordering another one until I am the proud owner of every one of the books on the list. 

Make a stand. Read good YA.  

18 comments:

  1. Very well said Jen. What's ridiculous about the piece is no one is FORCING these kids to read 'dark' books - but they are there if they need them, and many do. And are any of them more gruesome than Shakespeare or Tennesse Williams or Lord of the Flies, which we *did* have to read at school? Not in the slightest.

    And while the ridiculous WSJ woman tries to insist the opposite, the truth is that the majority of YA is not dark at all, and that is fine too - teens need fun and laughter as well, especially when their own lives *are* dark.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Girl Friday! Exactly - nobody is forcing kids to reader the darker stuff, but, as a former teenager who loved dark stuff, I took this very personally! And of course there are light, fun books out there. I devoured those as well!

    Adolescence is about exploring the world, and all possible worlds, and teenagers aren't fragile little flowers. Challenge them, and they'll rise to meet it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think that woman needs a harsh dose of reality.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ooh, which one did you order? I can highly recommend The Marbury Lends and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. I want to pick up a copy of Shine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder if the mother at the beginning of the article bothered to ask anyone working at the store if there were any YA books more to her liking. I find it hard to believe there wasn't anything all at geared towards her taste. If you start at "A" and work your way down, it won't take you long to get to authors like Meg Cabot or Ally Carter. You can just look at their covers and tell they're light and fun.

    Also, when I worked at a bookstore I used to suggest that concerned parents read the book along with their teen, that way they can have a discussion about any dark issues that arise rather than pretending those issues don't exist...but I did have a dad come into the store, flip open a book and say "Good. It has cursing. My daughter won't read unless she thinks it's a book I won't approve of." So you got all kinds of parents out there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Sommer. I ordered the Marbury Lens after reading the reviews on Amazon. It sounds intriguing, and I can't wait for it to arrive.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great point Cacy. That's one thing I love about YA - there are all sorts of different books out there, all under the huge YA umbrella, but so diverse!

    And I love the dad who bought a book with cursing in it. There's a man who understands a teenager's need to rebel!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Haha! You go girl! If I was not a poor college student that's exactly what I'd do too!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Brit! I'm making a stand, and I gt to read some awesome books. It's win/win!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ordering the books...brilliant! Carry on! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Margo...I shall!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I totally agree. I'm not bothered by dark books... the only YA books that bother me are the ones that encourage teenagers to do things they shouldn't be doing. I read a book recently where the MC slept with three and a half girls and people drank alchohol like it was totally normal. I can't believe an adult woman would encourage teenagers to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Excellent decision! I agree, the post was ridiculous. I also like to peruse the ALA Top 100 banned books list and read from there just on principle. Some of those books are simply amazing and have opened my eyes to some "darker" themes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks Teralyn,

    I agree that it's much more of a worry when sex and alcohol are portrayed as "normal" as in not damaging, to a younger audience, with no emotional strings attached. Dark themes are often those with the best messages. I'd rather my hypothetical kids had Katniss Everdeen as a role model than Paris Hilton.

    ReplyDelete
  15. TL,
    I have a whole collection of books that were banned at one time or another. Australia went pretty mad with censorship in the fifties and sixties, but we seem to be over it now. It's weird that so many books are still challenged in the US.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I forgot to add: as far as censorship goes, I think people should be able to read whatever they want (but I'm shocked at some of the things people want to read). If an offensive book is being widely read, it means it speaks to people, and we should find out why it hits a chord with others before we turn it down.

    Ergo, if "bad" books are being published, the readers are to "blame", not the authors. In other words, if your kid is reading dark books, it means you have a dark kid. If that bothers parents, they should go to the source: the kid. Banning books will accomplish nothing. Readers have the power, and that's how it should be.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Agreed Teralyn. Readers should have the power, and they always have since everything is in the interpretation.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...