Sunday, June 26, 2011

BW26: Y is for Young Adult

Deep in the Forest by Movito

We are halfway there, my darlins.   Are you enjoying the ride, exploring new books or different genres, expanding your horizons?     Reading is such an adventure - for us, for our kids.    For my last class, I had to read "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"  which was one of the most challenged books in the past due to the subject matter and the use of the 'n' word.   The class discussions were interesting because we were  1)  given the task of pretending we were a teacher trying to convince the school board not to remove the book from school curriculum and 2) responding to the other students as a parent who wanted the book banned. 

It was an interesting exercise because it made me look at both sides of the issue - the pros and cons.   It also confirmed my belief that books should not be banned.  However, what should be done is make sure books are age appropriate. There are just some books I think should be reserved for college age and adults, rather than middle age or high school students, because of their maturity levels. 

When I was in high school, 11th grade, two  of the books we were assigned for an English class was "The Clockwork Orange" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."   My parents were totally against me reading either book and when the school refused to substitute another book, they had me transferred into another class.    This was during the time period when Go Ask Alice came out about a teenage girl who was a drug addict.  That was considered one of the more controversial books during the 70's.   I did read Go Ask Alice - doubt my parents ever knew, because I didn't tell them.  However, never had the desire to read Clockwork or Cuckoo's Nest.

I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal  entitled "Darkness Too Visible" about the darkness prevalent today in young adult books.  Many young adult fiction authors took to their blogs upset by the article, in defense of their books.   There are several links so take your time, check them out and come on back, let me know what you think.

Go ahead. I'll wait.  (examining finger nails.)  You back! Good.

To be honest, there are quite a few young adult novels with themes I won't read because of their content. But the same goes for adult novels as well.     There are always going to be books that some will consider too dark, where another person will think of it as the best book they ever read in the whole wide world.  It all depends on your perspective.   Is it any reason to ban a book, remove it from the shelves.  No.  It just means as a parent, we have to be diligent in paying attention to what our children are reading and open and willing to discuss whatever comes up.  

Compared to Clockwork Orange or the other books of the early decades, are they more dark or just as dark?

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4 comments:

  1. Given that when I was a teenager I read Go Ask Alice and VC Andrews and Dean Koontz and all sorts of horrifying stuff, I'm not sure we can say that current YA is darker. (It might be better written dark...)

    I think we should be paying attention to what our kids read and discussing it with them. I don't think we should be trying to tell other people's children what they can or can't read.

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  2. I remember being in 5th grade and first hearing of "banned books." One of the books that was banned from the school library was "Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret." by Judy Blume.

    I was surprised to find out that even in 2011, that this book is one of the top 100 most frequently challenged books at libraries (i.e., books that have been requested to be banned), according to the American Library Association.

    Your point about books being age-appropriate rather than being banned is one I agree with. One of the catalogs I receive (Chinaberry) reviews children's books and groups them be age-appropriateness.

    As a parent, though, I also know what my daughters can and cannot handle. If they're not ready to hear/read something yet, it's just a book that will be introduced at a later time.

    Banning a book, to me, just makes someone want to read it even more.

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  3. @Jean - agree that we shouldn't be deciding for others. Leave it up to the parents.

    @Harvest Moon - exactly - we as parents should know what our kids can handle. Ithink homeschoolers sometimes have a better handle on that because we are around our kids 24/7

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  4. I absolutely agree with other comments regarding banned books. We are parents. We should be parents and help our kids make good choices. If we don't teach them that now, they'll surely not know how to make choices as adults.

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