05 November 2012

With YA Power Comes YA Responsibility?

At the CBC Diversity blog, author and digi-editor Daniel Nayeri shared an essay on an apparent double standard in discussions of Young Adult books:

These days every book festival has a YA panel, and every panel has a moment when a well-meaning attendee will stand up and ask: Are YA novels becoming more perverse? . . .

several times I’ve heard authors say, “Well, we can’t take responsibility for what a reader will take from a book. It could be anything.”

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris could have been reading Judy Moody just as easily as The Catcher in the Rye.

It’s a tempting idea for anyone who has ever written anything. You write what you write. Readers take whatever they want from it. . . .

ten minutes later—still at this hypothetical YA panel—a different panelist will mention all the good that their book might have done. A young fan wrote in with news of recovery, and the author glows with pride. . . .

We believe in the power of writing, and we accept the good it can cause in the lives of young readers, but we reject even the notion that it can also do harm.
In fact, the CBC Diversity blog itself is based in part on the idea that books can harm young readers by not portraying a diverse set of people or by portraying certain people in insulting or stereotypical ways. That acknowledges the power of writing. 

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