Darkness Too Visible

Piece in the WSJ: Darkness Too Visible - Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?

Response at EarlyWord: There they go again


My daughter read Hunger Games. I asked her if she wanted me to get the other books in the series and she said that the books were too dark for her.

Piece at NPR about the WSJ story on YA books: Seeing Teenagers As We Wish They Were: The Debate Over YA Fiction

Nothing like a nice biased viewpoint.
Again I will go to the basic answer I give everyone that witters on about this sort of thing.
Look at the bible. Now see how dark and perverse that is with it's incest, it's death, it's plagues, it's restribution, it's violence and tell me that that is ok but something based in the reality of modern YA's lives isn't.

Did in any of the blog posts or stories that thing that many YA books are to dark did they suggest that kids read the bible? Only crazy fundamentalists must believe that their kids should not be reading about slitting yourself with razors?

Not saying that they need to read the bible, just saying that a book that everyone has access to, that is probably in many homes, contains content that is much worse than any YA book and has little or none of the modern relevance to their normal lives than other YA books do.

Have you ever met anyone that self harms? I went out with someone who did. They need to know and they need to be able to discus these things.

I am talking about the content of 'books', if you are slagging off one form then you have to recognise that existing books that are everywhere and have been for hundreds of years are potentially much worse. You could follow the rules in the Bible and be more dangerous to yourself and society than reading a book where someone cuts themselves.

Blog post: Dear WSJ, Young Adult Lit Is Not ‘Ugly’

Excerpt: There’s a reason we call it young adult literature: your teens are not children anymore. They’re smart, they’re finding out about the world as well as themselves, and trying to figure out how to distinguish themselves from their parents and from their peers. Parents, don’t underestimate your teens.

Here are the bestselling teen books on Amazon:Bestsellers in Teen Books

I love YA fiction, and therefore I'm often annoyed at YA, and younger, reading lists. One of our university students brought in a list from her 5th grade daughter's school summer reading program: WWII Holocaust, teenage suicide, family cancer... Most of them looked to be well written, and probably most of them turned out OK (if you finished them), but there wasn't a single lighthearted, just-plain-fun book in the list. Very significant and full of life lessons, I'm sure, but pretty intimidating, especially for a 5th grader who would rather be outside or watching TV. With lists like that floating around, it's hard to convince people that YA lit isn't all dark and depressing. (By the way, I sent her to her public library's summer reading program, which looked like a much better mix.)

I think this article was written for parents. I am not a parent. I was one, but I traded my children a long time ago to a witch who lived in the woods for the power to give David Caruso his comeback. I admit it was a stupid thing, but man, I really thought he deserved another chance. Ironically, I've never seen even one episode of CSI Miami. Is it any good?

I am not a parent. That's not my job. But the librarian's job, my job, is to support the freedom to read. So I buy books, dark ones and light ones. Hopefully, good ones.

Adults are not the only ones concerned with levels of violence and other dark matter. I often used my kids as "test readers" to ask for their reactions. Because they couldn't come to my library often (I work in a different community from where we live) I took home armloads of books, some of which they read and some they didn't. One of my favorite reactions from my son came when he was about 11; I had taken home a graphic novel of Star Wars, to which he and his friends were addicted. I was debating whether to put it in Children's or YA due to the level of violence, and his comment made the decision for me. "Well, Mom, it's ok for me - but I don't think my friends should read it."

I put no restrictions on what my kids read, although there was a little head-shaking when my daughter took up Harlequins for a brief time ("Where did I go wrong?") but we always talked about what they read, and whether they liked it, and why. That is the important conversation.

Interview of Meghan Cox Gurdon on Minnesota Public Radio.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.