I know we’re supposed to do a whole website overview of SLJ, but there were so many good articles that I got sucked down a wormhole. Just on the front page I saw an article on what former librarians of the year are up to (super cool- wish someone did this with former teachers of the year), tips of what to do if you’re at a new school (helpful! Even moving to a new position at the same school), and then the article I’m actually going to write about here, “Sunday Reflections: YA Literature Too Dark! Why Don’t We Ask the Teens?”
This article is a direct response to the Wall Street Journal article about YA books being too dark which literally uses a picture of a small child with a teddy bear as illustration, perfectly illustrating how out of touch they are.
I make a point not to give trash like this a click, and so I’ve only read quotes from others who have shared on Twitter. (Some people have said it’s behind a paywall, anyway, and there’s no way I’m subscribing.) Librarians and authors I trust have commented on how it’s very clear that the author of the article didn’t do any basic research and that fact-checking was lacking. (Publication dates of books are wrong. It’s clear they didn’t actually talk to any teens or people who work with teens, even.) So, as usual, Library Twitter rolls hard. And to see that SLJ has people who are so very up-to-the-minute was really exciting. I am here for this.
It’s also a good resource for when we have those parents who think similarly to the author of the original article. They wonder why we can’t just let our teens live in a world with lollipops and unicorns and rainbows. My gut reaction is to wonder what rock that parent has been hiding beneath, but I swallow that and instead remind them that literature is a safe place to learn about the world. That they should talk to their teen about what they’re reading so that they’ll see the complex thinking their teen is doing and find out what they’re learning about the world. This was my favorite quote from the SLJ response article, “The surest way to get teens to stop reading is to write the types of books adults want them to read which are very different than the types of books that teens want to read for themselves. I’m pretty sure my teen is never going to commit murder, but if no one dies in a book she doesn’t want to read it.” It perfectly describes how I feel about ya literature.
And not only does this article make an impact when you have parent questions, there are lots of other resources. If you’re concerned, there is a whole section on age levels (where I found this article) and it includes reviews and book lists and recommendations. This can be hugely helpful and give you the extra backing you need if questioned.
Jensen, Karen. “Sunday Reflections: YA Literature Too Dark! Why Don’t We Ask the Teens?” Teen Librarian Toolbox, School Library Journal, 2 Sept. 2018, http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2018/09/sunday-reflections-why-dont-we-ask-the-teens/.