The Wall Street Journal is taking shots at YA as a genre, dismissing it as too dark and violent. On Twitter, the response has been the #YAsaves hashtag, in which members post their stories of YA literature's positive influence in their lives. YA author Laurie Halse Anderson wrote an excellent rebuttal, but there are irate, yet well-written, responses all over the Internet.
Edited to add Jackie Morse Kessler's excellent response.
I grew up before the YA explosion. Once I'd read all the kids' books in the library, I started in on Stephen King and Dean Koontz, as well as assorted classics. That was in sixth grade. Not to knock adult horror, but it would have been nice to have had books reflecting my experiences, fears, and struggles. Because not talking about problems does not make them go away. I have a four-year-old daughter, and I'm not looking forward to the tough conversations we'll have to have, but I am glad there is literature available for her to gain perspective. No one wants to talk about rape, abuse, suicide, cutting, teen sex, etc. But they exist. Being a teenager is horrible and confusing and dark, and for many teens, complicated by very real trauma beyond the usual growing pains. Bringing these issues into the light, showing troubled teens they are not alone: how are these bad things?
I find it difficult to take seriously a journalist who separates her reading recommendations for teens into "Books For Young Women" and "Books For Young Men," but I especially find statements such as this utterly absurd: "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." Really? Has this "journalist" talked to readers of YA? Or documented incidents of a teen reading, say, a book about cutting and deciding to give it a try? I'm trying to get through this commentary without using the word "idiot," but it's becoming a challenge.
What are your thoughts? I do believe that parents should read what their children read for perspective into the teen experience as well as to find points of discussion that need to happen. I do not believe in censorship. Teens, like all other readers will read books they find of interest and find relevant to their lives. Would we prefer they not read? Or see reading as an activity devoid of personal meaning? Or not know that others have experienced the trauma they have? I find it absolutely hilarious that the "journalist" lists FAHRENHEIT 451 for young people. Or, at least for young men. I'm not sure what about it is unsuitable for the delicate minds of the young women.