Friday, June 10, 2011

YA saves

  • YA books have helped me with anxiety. They have also provided me with a world to escape to when this one seemed dim
  • YA (books) taught me that everyone has a story, and that sometimes all we need to do is just listen
  • I turned to books to learn how to talk to people, to imagine life in anyone's shoes but my own. Literature gave me compassion
  • YA (books) makes you a survivor when you live in a f-up home. YA paints rainbows in a dark world. YA shows you are not alone
  • Even if you DON'T have a "dark" life, YA lit is a window outside your own bubble. It encourages empathy, broadens horizons
  • Without YA (books), how would we learn to face the things that make us brave?
  • YA (books) taught me that everyone has a story, and that sometimes all we need to do is just listen
  • YA books help my teen students find acceptance & understanding they may not get @ home or from friends. I am forever grateful
  • Reading YA novels helped me realize I wasn't the only kid with abusive parents & that it wasn't my fault
  • @RobinMckinley's DEERSKIN saved my life when I was too ashamed to look for help anywhere outside of a book
  • These are just some of the responses on twitter to a Wall Street Journal article on the darkness that predominates teen books – at least that’s how the reviewer sees it.

    Pretty quickly, young adult author Maureen Johnson asked people to share their stories on twitter, using the #yasaves tag. Within 20 minutes, it was the third highest trend in the US twitter stream.

    Even the Hulk got into the act...

    HULK READ #YASAVES TAG. HULK CRY BIG GREEN TEAR. HULK LOVE BOOKS, GLAD TEENS READ. THINK @WSJ SHOULD READ MORE BEFORE WRITE ARTICLES.

    Authors chimed in:

  • Darkness in YA fiction is about coping. There IS darkness in lives of many teens, however much we might prefer otherwise (Kelley Armtrong)
  • I've heard my books make people happy in dark times. My actual hope is to increase Taser violence against vampires (Kiersten White)
  • The Guardian in the UK got into the act, too, in an article that was shared around, via Neil Gaiman on twitter. Salon.com has also posted an article.

    There were blog posts and more tweets and... trust me – I’ve spent hours on Google and Twitter checking them out.

    So, I thought I’d add my thoughts. I’ll admit that staring at the teen / young adult shelves in stores does annoy me a bit – they are mainly paranormal heading-towards-romance or secret-agent novels. So, finding other books in amongst that lot is daunting. But, hey, that’s where your librarian comes in. We can find books about anything.

    This isn’t a new issue – I remember defending buying Goosebumps books for the school library I worked at (horror, you see). And I remember (sort of – it was stressful) co-presenting a paper called ‘It’s not all doom and gloom’ about teen literature, at a library conference years ago.

    What’s new with this discussion is the way social media leapt into gear straightaway and let people share their stories, and their humour, instantly. Yay for social media!

    Showing how old I am, there weren’t many books written just for teens when I was a teen (Sweet Valley High was just beginning to be available in NZ). So, I was reading adult novels throughout my teen years.

    Do I think reading about something is going to make you go out and do it? No (oh, unless it’s a recipe book, or craft or something practical like that).

    Do I think reading about someone else’s life – fictional or real – gives you hope if you’re dealing with some tough times yourself? Sure do! That’s what the Wall Street Journal author missed – 99.9% of teen literature – no matter how dark the theme or experience – has hope. For abused teen in a novel, read survivor. For every oppressive, dystopian society there are a group of rebels, people fighting for their rights.

    Do I think reading about someone else’s life – fiction or real – gives you an insight into another world? Another reality? Oh, yes. I’m a Paheka girl, but a book like Dahling, if you luv me, would you please, please smile by Rukhsana Khan gave me some idea of what it would be like to grow up feeling split between two very different cultures.

    I also think that teens dealing with some really big things don’t always want to read about teens in their situation – so will read to escape elsewhere. Fantasy. Light-and-fluffy. Whatever it takes.

    I believe that reading a variety of books – authors – genres – themes – makes you a more rounded person. Someone who is open-minded and ready to deal with many situations and people.

    What do you think? Has a teen book saved you? Made a difference in your life? Made you look at things differently?

    Let me know. Sorry, but the comments box is broken :(

    - Annie

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