The Power of Young Adult Fiction: Room for Debate
Janine and I have been following this debate today as well as responses on social media. Obviously, as high school librarians and writers of a blog called "Well-Read in YA," we can't help but take some offense to Joel Stein's comments about how embarrassing it is to see adults reading young adult literature. At first, I was tempted to rant and rave about Mr. Stein's pretentiousness. However, as the day goes and I reflect more on his comments, I feel a little bit sad for Mr. Stein and the fact that he is missing out on some great reading. I majored in literature at a reputable liberal art college. I have read many of the classics, and have enjoyed poetry and drama from writers around the world. However, as important as it is for a book to enlighten you, I also find that it is important that it entertains you. Therefore, Lev Grossman's article was a refreshing counterpoint. Many of the classics I have read have bored me to tears, and many have affected me so deeply that I will never forget their characters, their settings, and some of their beautiful lines. In the same vain, there have been YA novels that have bored me to tears, but why can't a YA novel be great literature? Can anyone who has read The Book Thief, for example, argue that it is not unique and beautifully written? I hold YA and adult fiction by pretty much the same standard: Is it a book that's hard to put down?