Talented YA author Justine Larbalestier (also all-around cool person and someone I'm glad to count as an acquaintance/friend) blogged about an article that irritated her today. The article claims:
[M]ost of the stuff published for children and adolescents is abysmal, self-regarding trash. Part of the fault rests with the packagers such as Alloy and in the way they do business. A larger part of the problem stems from publishers’ misguided belief that kids want to read about people just like themselves, living lives just like their lives.
Cassandra Clare fires back:
The publishing industry has always been a profit operation, that's why it's an industry and not a charity. Publishers publish books they think people want to buy and read, full stop.There's also an excellent response here that mentions how some of canonical works of American literature started as books written for young people. Books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Justine adds her own fiery bit:
Lots of teenagers want to read about people like them, lots don't, and some of them want to be transported as well as read about teenagers like them. It's not an either/or. Very few things are. Some of those transporting books also happen to be about teenagers like them.
There is a lot of YA literature out there that is just amazing. Transporting (and not necessaryily in the 'let's all get aboard the space ship' type way) you to a whole new plane of thinking. Many of us thought the way John Green's teens talk/think in Looking for Alaska, but when you read the book, you are moved. I'm not sure if it's a newer arena of publishing or something I missed when I was a teen and had my nose shoved into Stephen King books. Were there books like The Giver or Speak or Peeps when I was a teen in the 1980s? One of the reasons those Stephen King books drew me in was that Mr. King used teenage protagonists in a whole lot of his stories. This wasn't an accident.
Like I said, I'm still learning what my teen patrons are reading. They read a lot of manga, of which I know very little. They read the sef-referential dreck books A LOT. Like I said above, I liked reading books in high school that featured characters I could relate to. I also liked reading books that had things happening in them that just couldn't happen in reality.
What are your teen patrons reading?
Tags: libraries, young adult, John Green, Justine Larbalestier, Laurie Halse Anderson, Scott Westerfeld, Lois Lowry