Friday, June 10, 2011

Young Adult Fiction - To Ban or Not To Ban

I know I’m a bit late with this, but I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the affect Young Adult fiction has on today's youth. In the article, a writer named Meghan Cox Gurdon states that Young Adult fiction has changed from the happy-go-lucky Judy Bloom series to the doom and gloom of hauntingly dark book covers and even darker subject matter. While, she's not wrong in this, she goes on to say that, in a manner of speaking, the youth in today's society have no need to be reading fiction that deals with serious subjects like suicide, self mutilation, or the more violent aspects of bullying, just to name a few topics.

Now, this idea can be looked at in two ways. While, yes, the subject matter is difficult to read for even the most emotionally stable adult, in a world where suicide, cutting, and bullying are a reality for countless teenagers, these books are shining a light on dark subjects and are giving our youth important information that can either help them fight their own personal battles with the subjects or enlighten them as to the reality of some real life situations that they might or might not encounter at some point in their lives. On the other side of the argument, however, it could be said that our youth need to be sheltered and shielded by the horrors of reality and have no need to read such topics. Granted, I can definitely see how this could be ideal for parents, but it’s not necessarily the most realistic mindset.

Gurdon even went so far as to discuss the “banning” of certain books because of parental worries for their children’s well being. Of course, I’m not arguing the rights of parents who wish to protect their children from whatever they want. But it’s clear that not only are writers like Gurdon trying to stifle the creative nature of several YA (Young Adult) writers, but they’re also insulting the intelligence of our youth, some of whom will experience worse things in school than they’ll read in one of the “ban worthy” books on Gurdon’s list.

*takes a deep breath and lets it out*

Good Lord. I didn’t mean to get so long winded on the subject, but when I read that article it blew my mind. While I can see and understand both points of view, I don’t think censorship or banning is the answer for anything. I think we need to educate our youth and allow writers the opportunity to express real life issues, regardless of how uncomfortable the subjects might be. Reality is reality. There is no escaping it no matter what your age.

And with that, I’m off my soap box. Sorry for the novel lol.

Oh and if any of you are interested in reading the article, here’s the link:

P.S. This post is actually something I wrote for a discussion board question for the class I’m currently enrolled in called The Novel. It just seemed like a good idea to post it here too since the subject is so close to my heart, especially now that Stacey and I have been diving into YA writing ourselves.


Jennifer Hendren said...

Preach on, Jenna!

That article pissed me off in a major way. Especially since I have a couple of contemp YAs in the hopper and will be dealing with some of these darker issues that are so "taboo" to this writer. I'm not really sure what world these women grew up in, but the world I lived in was tough. These issues bombarded me on all sides -- if not happening to me personally, to others around me. Silence isn't the answer. Education is.

Gah, I could go on. :)

Our Pages Aren't Numbered said...

I would comment on how awesome your comment is, but I'm talking to you on yahoo at the moment so it would probably be redundant lol.