An article in the Wall Street Journal this week has a lot of Young Adult authors, publishers and readers up in arms. According to the article, a woman went into a bookstore looking for a book for her teenage daughter, and couldn’t find her a THING to read! Well, there were plenty of books in the young adult section, but nothing she thought appropriate. Her complaint was that everything being written for young adults these days is too dark, too violent, too…..real?
Just a quick scan of our own shelves reveals a huge variety of books. I understand in some ways where she is coming from. As a mother, she probably doesn’t approve of the difficult and often controversial subject matter that teens are interested in (ie. cutting, teen suicide, anorexia etc) along with the supernatural trends that are out there (vampires, ghosts), but the simple fact is, teens like to read about difficult topics and anything that gets them reading is great, in my opinion.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard from a mother about difficulty choosing books. Just this week, we had a mother in who wanted to find something for her 16 year old. She felt the juvenile fiction was too young, and the YA stuff could be to explicit. Even one of our favourite young readers (15 years old) complained yesterday that she didn’t want to read about boys and kissing….she just wanted a great story. So where are those books? Well, there are lots of them, you just have to look.
I’m sure that in bookstores, the books on display are the ones that are selling most (supernatural, tough issues etc), so that’s probably why the mother in the article couldn’t find anything to read. People tend to pick up whatever they see, rather than sift through the shelves to find something appropriate that might not be facing out. And she could have asked someone for a suggestion. That would have solved her problem entirely.
There’s a great article on the value of those “controversial” YA books right here. This is just one of many that I read on the subject, and I hope the woman in question took to the internet to read some rebuttals as well. For now, I’m satisfied with the fact that most teens can walk away from a bookstore (or the library) with at least one or two good books in hand. When that stops, we have a problem.
And on another note, just a cute picture that one of our teen patrons dropped off. Lilli is a budding photographer in our community and this is her cat, Sweetie, enjoying the benefits of a good book. Thanks, Lilli!
(Photo by L. Mayer)