On the Goddamn Worth and Validity of YA Literature
Awhile ago an old English high school teacher of mine disparaged YA literature, in summary saying it wasn’t worthwhile putting these books in the hands of teenagers. Even if I disagree with the person, I often stay quiet on a topic if it’s someone I know. This time I didn’t stay quiet and posted back. And in light of another terrible article questioning the validity to YA lit, I decided to share that post today:
It’s disappointing to see an English teacher of mine from high school, one I admired and looked up to, categorically dismiss an entire category of literature. Young Adult books are not one-dimensional. They aren’t rubbish. They don’t lack cohesion.
To say they don’t belong in high schools is an inane statement. To say they don’t provide high schools students with abstraction in order to advance in different ways of thinking is an inane statement.
First of all, to lump all books from the same category into a singular mass and judge them as one is simply ridiculous – all categories have some fantastic novels and some novels that fall short. Second of all, the higher literature you think belongs in high schools like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Lord of the Flies would be published through a children’s imprint today – they are Children’s & Young Adult literature. Third of all, there are many other fantastic contemporary Young Adult titles that should be and are being studied in schools today: Everybody Sees the Ants, Mexican WhiteBoy, and More Happy Than Not – just to name a handful of hundreds.
Fourth of all, a book doesn’t have to be a work of great literature to have a positive impact on a teenager’s life – reading is fantastic – why discourage teenagers from reading novels they love?
And lastly, the genre’s not for you.