I don’t read young adult literature, and don’t have any young adults around at the moment who do. So, I’m not in a position to say whether all the books out there for teens are full of horrific violent profanity ridden dreck or not. But apparently a writer for the Wall Street Journal has read everything available in the YA genre, because she is so appalled by what she believes is on the shelves, she posted a scathing article condemning the publishing industry and booksellers for pushing these depraved works.
Let’s put one pertinent fact out there right away. Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote this article in a publication owned by the king of conservatism and media control, Rupert Murdock, the self same individual who owns and controls Fox “News”, a little network full of taste and high moral standards, if only in their own minds.
So, who can be surprised that a point of view regarding YA reading would be so negative?
She begins the article explaining how one mother couldn’t find a single book that wasn’t full of vampires, profanity, self mutilation, sexual abuse–not one book! I find this statement hard to believe, having spent so much time selling books, that every piece of literature published lately falls into those categories. But even if true, what is the problem with the content of books reflecting teens’reality around them? Apparently, a great deal, according to Ms. Gurdon. Teens will think that the dark circles of hell the books contain is a good place to be, and want to emulate someone who self mutilates and embrace these dismal scenerios as normal life. Or as Ms. Gurdon writes: “Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—
that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.”
What I gather from reading her article is that she feels publishers push this dark trash upon an unwilling public who must then be vigilant in protecting their tweens and teens from the harmful effects the stories project–sort of like each book is full of radiation of the soul, the more of it a YA reads, the more likely the teen will be deeply troubled, damaged.
“If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—
will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.
Now, whether you care if adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness probably depends on your philosophical outlook. Reading about homicide doesn’t turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won’t make a kid break the honor code. But the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child’s happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.”
I seriously doubt that YA lit has created incest, homophobia, etc., the topics some of the books she rails against speaks about, but rather exposes it to an audience that either has experienced these traumas, or know enough about them to be engaged, touched, moved by the circumstances a character is experiencing, without believing the entire YA population has entered the 6th level of hell.
One of the faults of this article is to assume YAs are too naive or impressionable to be safely left to their own devices in choosing their reading fare. The description, as one teen pointed out, is “young ADULT” the adult part being of particular note.
Publishers aren’t the only group she targets as pushing the horrors known as YA lit. Librarians, booksellers are included in the conspiracy to turn our youth into blood seeking vampires. (my exaggeration. we all know YA lit can only turn teens into werewolves.)
” In the book trade, this is known as “banning.” In the parenting trade, however, we call this “judgment” or “taste.” It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person’s life between more and less desirable options. Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks “censorship!” And she goes on with:
Every year the American Library Association delights in releasing a list of the most frequently challenged books. A number of young-adult books made the Top 10 in 2010, including Suzanne Collins’s hyper-violent, best-selling “Hunger Games” trilogy and Sherman Alexie’s prize-winning novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”
And sites a Washington DC bookseller’s way of dealing with the offending material:
In an effort to keep the most grueling material out of the hands of younger readers, Ms. Stoddard and her colleagues at Politics & Prose, an independent Washington, D.C., bookstore, created a special “PG-15” nook for older teens. With some unease, she admits that creating a separate section may inadvertently lure the attention of younger children keen to seem older than they are.
Apparently Ms. Gurdon not only believes teens shouldn’t be allowed to chose books for themselves, but that the general public made up of parents shouldn’t have those dark choices to begin with, the publishers shouldn’t print the books she finds so offensive, and if printed, librarians shouldn’t stock them, and booksellers shouldn’t sell them, thereby eliminating the problem altogether in her eyes.
Oh, what a familiar refrain! Whatever a parent or YA thinks about the current reading fare doesn’t matter. If they don’t want their kids reading the stuff, don’t let them read the stuff. If a YA doesn’t like that type of book, don’t read them. But let the rest of society make up their own minds about what is light or dark in YA lit.
For the entire article go here:
For a great response go here: