Recently book blogs and Twitter have been full of responses, comments and articles all directed at the article in the Wall Street Journal, written by Meghan Cox Gurdon: Darkness Too Visible.
The article is opened with the short summed up story of how a mother of three walked into her local Barnes and Nobel and was completely shocked by what she was welcomed by in the Teen section. Her response to this way (quoted from the article) 'nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff.'
And it was this that made me think.
For a number of decades now, many mother's have put allot of there energy in the attempts to ban certain books from being available in schools, libraries and shops, mainly the books directed at children and teenagers. But why do they do this? Due to what they believe to be explicit content.
Since the introduction of YA as a book age group, the main focus has now gone from children books and onto teen books. Now for those who do not know, YA books are aimed at teenagers aged 12-18 and as I believe, perfectly fine ages for the content of the books.
I can guarantee to all parents, well most parents that what is talked about within these books are all things that your children would of heard about, done or seen.
To me YA books are well books which unlike any other age group, are more aimed at their audience. It's all about finding your way through problems, falling in love and coming of age. Why try and shield a child from a book when they are only days away from experience these things anyway.
They may be seen as too mature for the reader's, but no one has ever said these things are not true: How many of you, as a child or teenager witnessed filming's of the 9/11 attack, the biggest terrorist attack in history, but how many people would protest a book about terrorism being available to their children.
How many of you have seen a sexual advertisements (such as those for perfumes etc...) before the 9pm ban as a child or teenager, but how many people would protest a book with a very very slightly sexual cover on a book.
How many of these parents who moan and complain about the content in a teenage book have before allowed their child to play on harmful computer games or shows on TV.
And lastly how many parents have used profanities in front of there children, but are judgemental when they appear in books.
I am unable in any of my local bookstores to reach the YA section and even Children's section without having to walk past adult fiction, even in some stores I have to walk past the Dark Romance books, which tend to have naked people on the front and that kind of thing. But these books are all available to buy, for example I have been able to go into a book store and buy Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife, with no problem at all (14 at the time), this book has sexual scenes within it, along with many of Adult Fiction books. If these books are available to teens why complain about YA books, when they are the more controlled version.
I guess this all factors on how you grew up.
I grew up in a childhood that makes what appears in YA books un-effective to me, nothing surprises me . I was surrounded by things which other parents would be completely shocked by: drugs, abuse, alcholism etc... all these things which have a possibility of appearing within a YA book.
The main reason I read YA books is the form of fantasy and escapism. They are a constant friend, whose job it is to make you feel happy and provide you with support. As someone who doesn't have many friends and barely any I can share my problems with, I use these books to help me through these difficult times, and yes they have more than definitely helped. Why should YA books be penalised for helping teenager's way more effectively then some people can.
Come on people when was the last time you read a vampire book and then went out to bite someone.
When was the last time you read a book about a murderer, then went to murder someone.
When was the last time you read a book about homosexuality and then were magically turned gay.
Yes... I thought so... NEVER!!!
YA books don't make us someone we are not, but instead help us become who we are suppose to me, they encourage to show our real side to people, and yes if you become gay, lesbian or bisexual after reading a homosexual book, then that book didn't turn you to become that sexuality, instead it just helped you discover who you really are suppose to be.