Tuesday, June 7, 2011

YA in Shades of Gray

I'm working up some new reviews I think you'll like, but in the meantime, I have something else on my mind. There's been a big kerfuffle over The Article That Must Not Be Named in The Wall Street Journal. (I don't want to link to it, but I'm sure you can find it.) Meghan Cox Gordon paints a pretty ugly picture of depraved, sordid tales polluting the minds of young readers. I had a few reactions: Really? REALLY?!? Grrr. Aww.  Wow.

The "aww" and "wow" may look out of place, but you might find yourself feeling similarly once you read the YA community's rebuttal. The hashtag #YAsaves has been cranking out incredible, inspiring stories. Authors, booksellers, librarians, journalists, bloggers, and readers have easily taken apart Gordon's claims. They've written about censorship, parenting, writing, reading, acceptance, history, generational conflict, morality, purpose, intention, and stories for their own sake. There's also some great humor mixed in with the accompanying hashtag #YAkills. I don't need to rehash these brilliant and nuanced reactions (though I do advise setting aside some time for googling), especially because my thoughts on the matter have already been said by someone more eloquent.

In this season of graduation and change, I stumbled across J.K. Rowling's 2008 Commencement address at Harvard. (I loved it like I loved Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk.) She is an immensely talented, empathetic, funny author. Everything I need to combat that misinformed article comes through in her speech. Do yourself a favor and take the time to listen, maybe even learn.

I will say this: Criticizing the content of books (YA especially) is a failure of imagination. It is a failure to see the light, a failure to seek out the light in the darkness, and a failure to realize that some darkness doesn't have light. Children, like adults, will find their way, especially if they are readers. It will be true, and it will be theirs.

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