This weekend, The Wall Street Journal published an article of the utmost idiocy. If you haven’t heard the hubub yet, the article basically lambasts YA lit as being too dark for today’s teens. As a reader and supporter of all literature, but in particular YA lit, I take issue with pretty much every word in the article. I would go into a lengthy breakdown of the many problems with this article, but our staff member Steph has already done so quite adequately — she broke down the article and it’s ridiculousness on her own blog, and summarily nailed down the biggest problem with the article’s overarching idea:
No one forces kids to read a certain book. These things cost money – they’re not being forced on them. Even in most schools, parents have the right to object to materials they consider inappropriate. If enough people agree, there’s usually a compromise. That’s the democratic way.
A better approach, in my opinion, is to let these books open a dialogue among children and parents. Discuss the issues. Read the book along with your teen.
I was out and about when the news hit online and the firestorm took over the blogosphere & Twitter — but catching up on everything that transpired in the wake of the article hitting the web, I am (A) amazed that the WSJ even deemed to publish such tripe (though it’s done so in the past) and (B) overwhelmingly touched and amazed by the community of YA readers, authors, publishers, etc.
In the wake of the article, the YA community — and I believe this trending topic was spear-headed by Libba Bray & Maureen Johnson — launched a trending topic called #YAsaves. It took only 20 minutes to become the 3rd most popular trending topic in the U.S.
That’s huge. Not only does it make me overwhelmingly proud to be part of the YA community as a blogger, but it hopefully, finally shows the WSJ that it cannot let people like the author of this article continue to share their hugely misguided opinion. Because as Libba Bray pointed out, this isn’t an article you can just roll your eyes at. It does damage. Libba wrote on Twitter:
I genuinely believe that these articles are hurtful, that they goad banners & keep much-needed books out of the hands of the teens who should be reading them. Books are, at their heart, dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Because they challenge us: our prejudices, our blind spots. They open us to new ideas, new ways of seeing. They make us hurt in all the right ways. They can push down the barricades of “them” & widen the circle of “us” And when one feels alone–say, because of a terrible burden of a secret, something that creates pain and isolation, books can heal, connect That’s what good books do. That’s what hard books do. And we need them in the world.
If you want proof of how much YA literature has impacted the world, simply search #YAsaves on Twitter and you will see thousands upon thousands of responses, standing up for YA literature and showing why it is important in all its crude, dark, uncensored glory.
And when it really comes to down to it, do you really want to keep a book out of a teen’s hands because of the subject matter, when it could be that very book that makes that teen a reader? ANY book is a good book, if it’s the right book for you.
Kids don’t read books because they are “hyper-violent” or filled with “dark, dark” subject matter. They read YA lit because the stories are good; because the subjects matter; because they can relate to the stories and characters. Teens seek out ways to cope with everything they deal with in their lives, and YA lit is a critical outlet for finding these stories. What’s more, literature is an outlet and an escape. I know that’s the biggest reason I read; to get away from the world for a few hours and get lost in the pages of some great story.
The beauty of YA literature is that it’s filled with books and authors who are not afraid to tell the truth to teens; that’s why YA lit is so popular. It is honest, and teens know that.
Feel free to share your #YAsaves stores in the comments below, as well as on Twitter — and we encourage you to write to the WSJ and share your opinion, as well.
In summary, I’ll say this … READ ON!