Reading choices for kids
Published: August 27, 2004
|Teens like their books with an edge, stories that deal with difficulties they might face in their own lives, writes Melissa Hart in her impassioned article on writing meaningful books for young-adult readers (page 39). The young-adult genre has grown increasingly popular with publishers in proportion to the demand for books for this age group (12 and older). Hart points out that this audience doesn't want to be lectured or patronized. Readers want to see stories about kids like themselves.|
A young-adult book can deal with everything from peer pressure and sexuality to substance abuse, rape, teen pregnancy, abuse, mental illness and AIDS. These topics hit close to home with many kids. And, they also are the most likely to get books banned.
Judy Blume's 1970 book Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret remains a benchmark coming-of-age book for girls. "The title character talks frankly about bras, boys and the onset of her period," writes Hart. Today, Blume's book seems pretty mild, but it is on "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000" list published by the American Library Association (ALA). A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. The ALA list is rife with classics for young readers, including Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia and Lois Lowry's The Giver. All are Newbery Award winners.
The young-adult writer's obligation is to portray the world as teens experience it "in all its glorious controversy," says Hart. If that means a book lands on the list of most frequently challenged books, it will be in good company.
--Posted Aug. 27, 2004