I was all set to blog about X-Men today — and about my gorgeous Hollywood boyfriend Michael Fassbender — but over the weekend something more important came up. Hope you don’t mind the delay.
I’m not sure what’s going on at the Books department of the Wall Street Journal, but my suspicion is that they’re trying to attract more readers by being shock-jocks. First they misrepresented the Tiger Mom, now they’re condemning YA literature. While I can’t blame them for focusing on their bottom line, I don’t respect the tactic.
The one good thing coming out of all this is that controversy generates discussion. But do those much-needed conversations offset the potential harm done? There’s no real way to know.
I shudder to think about how many parents might blindly refuse to let their children read YA literature after reading Meghan Cox Gurdon’s op-ed (which was not labeled as such but should have been). Books that might help their kids through a tough time. Books that might make their kids more understanding of their peers. Books that might not even be “dark” but have been lumped in with the ones that are, all under a battle cry of “Watch out, YA is dangerous!”
YA isn’t dangerous. YA saves.
There are thousands (maybe millions) of tweets and dozens of blog posts to prove it. Believe me, I spent all of yesterday reading them, and being moved to tears by the personal stories that were shared. Not just by teens, but people of all ages.
I won’t deny that there’s a lot of “dark” stuff on the YA shelves nowadays. There is. And it can feel overwhelming. And not every teen should read it. Not every teen wants to.
But for Gurdon to say that NO teen should? That NO teen needs these books? That’s simply preposterous.
If you don’t want (or have time) to read all the great responses, here are
4 5 that I highly recommend:
- General, comprehensive thoughts from a teacher
- Hilarious snark-filled response from Forever Young Adult (the last paragraph is epic)
- Perspective of a former journalist (who also happens to be acclaimed YA author Gayle Forman)
- Excellent, grounded response from a health professional
- Passionate, eloquent letter to Ms. Gurdon from a real live teen
To be clear: the issue here isn’t differing opinions. I know how to respectfully disagree. To be honest, I don’t even disagree with Gurdon on all of it. And I would certainly love to live in a world where these “depraved” books didn’t resemble reality.
But they do. So the issue is Gurdon’s lack of research, and her use of scare tactics, and her endorsement of book banning as good parenting.
I’m speaking out against those things because, like Gayle Forman said, “as any reader of YA knows, the only way to defang a bully is to stand up to them.”