The thing I hate about getting up early is that then I do something other than my normal routine, such as checking my email, and then I see someone has posted a link on the listserv to My Say: When YA Might Not Be OK by Shannon Stevenson at Publishers Weekly, and by the time I'm done reading and posting somehow I am running late for work.
I'm torn about the article; on the one hand, knee jerk reaction of "no" to the idea of telling a child what not to read.
On the other hand, I agree that a good librarian helps a kid find the right book for them. Just because kids hear about a book doesn't mean it's for them. And Stevenson doesn't say "no"; she engages in wonderful readers advisory to find out what the child is really seeking in terms of a book.
Channeling Zaphod to get a third hand, I also am a big believer in kids self-censoring, and that the kid who picks up the book that is too "old" for them will either quickly put it down or simply not notice the stuff that is above their maturity/age level.* So I'm not too worried about "oh noes they read Gossip Girl and from now on will only wear Prada."
On the fourth hand, I think there is some terrific stuff in the children's section, and just as I hate the idea of teens being told (directly and indirectly) to "grow up and move to the adult section for the good book," I don't like that attitude being used towards the children's section. That is, a belief that "oh, you're the SMART kid, it's time to move to YA." There are so many spectacular books written for 6th graders, isn't the librarian's job to help those books find the right reader?
As I've run out of pretend hands, let me add that Stevenson also points out the age levels used to shelve in her library. So in responding, remember -- at her system, YA pretty much equals high school readers. Also remember -- those books you love for older teens, if that eleven year old came asking... seriously, what would you say? "The commercials for Nick and Norah are so cute, I want the book!" To say the F word appears every page would be conservative; and it has an incredibly hot almost-sex scene. If my friend's daughter who is entering sixth grade asked me for it, I would be showing her Sex Kittens. If I do that for her, why shouldn't I do it for the kid in the library I don't know? In all honesty, yeah, if I knew that kid was that young, I'd be engaging in the exact same interview Stevenson does. Fact of the matter is, some books ARE for high school students -- and older high school students, at that. Authors know that -- many authors agree that their intended audience is not just teens, but older teens.
So, as you can see -- yes, I'm conflicted much.
But, I imagine that the imaginary sixth grader who IS ready to read N&N isn't asking for my help in finding it. So I wouldn't really be that nasty librarian who said you couldn't read a book....
Anyway, much to think about and darn, yes, now I'm running late.
*Deenie had masturbation? As a kid, I had no idea.
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