Current Issues in Young Adult books

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Young adult books are nothing new, but they have recently outpoured into our lives, even for those who don’t read books, you’d find them inspiring your TV shows like Vampire Diaries or your movies like the Hunger games.

Young adult books are those that are targeted at those but not necessarily written by; teenagers and ‘young adults’ aged 13-20’s. Sometimes YA is labeled as being a genre rather than an age group and subsequently, bookstores will bunch all these Young books in one area rather than catagorising them with other fiction/fantasy/non-fiction books in their respective sections.

In fact, Young adult fiction in all its forms always represent such a vast array of topics and themes, like; death, war, poverty, mental health, abuse, illness, bullying, loneliness, sexuality, religion, racism, teen pregnancy, conflict and many more.

Mental health issues are well spoken about in Young Adult Literature.

Myriam is a book blogger and special needs teacher. From a young age she was drawn to young adult books because she could learn from them and implement what she learned in her day to day life.

Myriam is particularly dedicated to young adult books that address or are about Mental Health issues. In this video, Myriam recommends some of her Favourite books and talks to us about why how they address certain topics.

Would you read any of these books?

Yes
No

Poll Maker

 

However, nothing comes without criticism; and young adult literatures is no exception, one of the major hits its getting is from academics who are disputing the introduction of YA book study in the classroom as part of set curriculums.

Some claim that the change means that classics and ‘quality’ reading material is being replaced and neglected.

Others put forward the plea that anything that can be provided to make children and teenagers read was a good thing, regardless of the genre. Teacher and author A.A. Mouturi told me: “Many children in my school don’t enjoy reading much, and I don’t blame them considering they tend to have an attention span of a Vine or Instagram video. A book needs to be captivating enough for them to keep reading it and they only tend to do this when it comes to reading a YA novel.”

 

“Many children in my school don’t enjoy reading much, and I don’t blame them considering they tend to have an attention span of a Vine or Instagram video. A book needs to be captivating enough for them to keep reading it and they only tend to do this when it comes to reading a YA novel.” – A.A. Mouturi

 

 

So if teachers are finding that their students are not benefitting from the usual classics, is it their duty to find alternatives for their students to ensure that they maintain that their students are getting enough reading done. A.A. Mouturi tells me that she had to place orders for a new library just to make sure her students had the choice and supplies to keep reading.

Does that mean that teachers are completely abandoning the classics in the classroom? “No, by no means” replies A.A. Mouturi. “I’ve been teaching and giving my student access to all kinds of books, while the entire class enjoyed studying YA titles like The Hunger Games and The Outsiders, they also enjoyed studying classics like Shakespeare and Dickens.”

 


In America for example, some YA titles have been banned from being taught in classes. This caused large outcries from YA authors especially by author John Green whose book ‘Looking for Alaska’ was banned on the grounds of being allegedly “Pornographic’.

Mr Green is not alone, according to Data courtesy of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. There are many YA books that have been banned or challenged  (A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness).

Some of these books include:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  2. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Data found on bannedbooksweek.

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In his study ‘In the classroom or is it?’ John H. Bushman argues that a young protagonist helps the student make connections. He found that ‘They offer hope to the young reader—hope that things can change, improve, succeed. They give hope to be able to cope with all that seems wrong with being a young adult.’

He concludes, “The best reason for using young adult novels is that they keep young people reading. Teachers need to change the direction that high school students are taking: they must turn kids on to reading, instead of turning them off. The stability and future of our culture depend on it.”

 

What YA books did you read in class?

Holes
The Hunger Games
The outsiders
Naughts and Crosses
None
Other
Please Specify:

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Finally, a big cause of dispute in the YA community and by its critics is the seemingly underwhelming presence of parents or guardians in young adult books. In an essay for the New York Times, Julie Just addresses the ‘Parent problem in YA lit’  So in this audio piece I spoke to readers of all ages on what they think about the relationships of main characters in Young Adult books, with their families and specifically with their parents or guardians. I wanted to know if they thought that the way parents are portrayed in Young adult books was representative or accurate, or if they thought it was justified.

“Children betrayed their parents by becoming their own people.”

The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

 

We found that a lot of people recognised that parents usually hold a imperative role in the lives of their children, even as teens, many of them felt that despite teen irks at their parents growing up, their presence in their life was still a stronghold that held over them all, and thus felt that YA books are purely using parents as a plot twist and not as a accurate representation of what readers would actually face.

 

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