I’m not ashamed to read YA

A recent article on Slate suggests that as an adult, I should be embarrassed that I am still reading and enjoying YA literature. (click the picture above for the story)  This article quite frankly chaps my hide. As a librarian I feel that one should read whatever the h*** suits their fancy. If you want to read the Magic Tree House and you are 50 years old.. go for it! If you want to read the latest YA fantasy and you happen to be a 33 year old Youth Services Librarian then who cares. Get over yourself Ms. Graham. In a world where getting people to read at any age is an increasing challenge, we don’t need the shaming. Many adults stop reading after college and never pick up anything again for pleasure. Why make anyone feel embarrassed because they love Divergent or Winnie the Pooh?

I had a lovely elderly lady come in with fond memories of “Little House on the Prairie.” Did I turn her away to the adult section for books “suited to her advance adult status?” No way! I took her to the shelf and we had a wonderful chat about the characters and why we both loved rereading this series. Life is too short to worry about whether or not you’re reading in your supposed age group.

The author goes on to write about the dreamy love stories and sappy teenage angst. She states the following :

When chapter after chapter in Eleanor & Park ends with some version of “He’d never get enough of her,” the reader seems to be expected to swoon. But how can a grown-up, even one happy to be reminded of the shivers of first love, not also roll her eyes?

Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction. These endings are for readers who prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, our heroes married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future. But wanting endings like this is no more ambitious than only wanting to read books with “likable” protagonists.

Ruth Graham – Against YA

So as an adult I am only allowed to read “not so simple books” and books with more ambitious endings? Really??? Because that sucks! I read to escape. So do many of my patrons (of all ages). Sometimes you crave the happy endings and the simple story. Sometimes you crave more sophistication. Why is this a problem?

In the end, this article is just one opinion. She is entitled to it even though I 1000% disagree. It also looks like many librarians and other commentators feel that she is vastly missing the boat. I encourage you to read a few. Kudos to my fellow librarians who call her to task very gently and admirably.

People read what you like. Enjoy life and enjoy the books that bring you happiness. Teach your children to enjoy books from all genres and ages. Reading is not for shaming. It’s for exploration, joy, hope, laughter, tears, and hundreds of other emotions that flow from the pages.

5 Comments

  1. authorleighmichaels

    I have seen this article alluded to, but this is the first time I actually read it, and HOLY COW. Judgemental much? Sheesh.

    I absolutely love YA fiction and I’m totally with you on this. Everyone should read what they enjoy reading, and how dare anyone tell me what I should or should not read??

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  2. thejedilibrarian

    I loved Eleanor and Park. As for a lack of moral ambiguity, is she reading the same books we are? They are full of deep and “adult issues” and such. Eleanor and Park deals with abuse and alcoholism, how is that not emotional? *sigh* *shakes head* Some people.

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    • MsVal313

      She is a twit! Her article is so full of malice and contempt. It also reeks of “holier than thou”… She misses the boat on so many great YA books. To read only a few and then condemn the whole genre is short sighted on her part.

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      • thejedilibrarian

        It is, and she definitely missed the point on the ones she did read, big time! But we know better. I’m reading In The Shadow of Blackbirds right now, and that deals with WWI, the flu pandemic, suicide, shell shock, death, life after death, to say it’s not deep or doesn’t have real emotions is stupid. The fact that it’s a 16 year old girl and not an adult makes it even more deep and emotional in my opinion.

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  3. thejedilibrarian

    Reblogged this on The Ramblings of a Jedi Librarian and commented:
    This response to an article shaming adults who read YA books by a fellow youth librarian sums up exactly how this 28-year-old Teen Services librarian feels. Vive la YA lit! You can read my review to Eleanor and Park from earlier this year in my archives.

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