Friday, September 11, 2009

YA Lit: Basal Reader Year 10

Mary Pearson has a terrific article on What YA Lit Is And Isn't over at

It's pitch perfect; her audience is adult readers who don't "know" YA, the way we who are immersed in YA literature (as librarians, teachers, and just people who love love the books) are.

My two favorite quotes:

"I think sometimes there is still this basal reader mentality when it comes to teen books, like it is a stepping stone to the “grown-up stuff.” Basal Reader Year 10. Hm, no." This is actually a HUGE point, because many people view YA as a "reading level," simply a matter of vocabulary and grammar, ignoring such things as emotional content, complex storytelling, and maturity. And those things can mean multiple stories and multiple POVs and unreliable narrators, but can also include books that require the reader to come to conclusions rather than be told the meaning. And OK, yeah, sex, violence, and language.

And then this:

"The bottom line is that YA books are not meant to raise children. They are everything any adult book is. They are entertainment. They are a place to see ourselves. They are a place to get lost for a few hours. They are a place to make us think and wonder and imagine. They are a place to evoke anger, disagreement, discussion, and maybe tears. Books have no other responsibility than not to make the reader hate reading." The only snark I'll add? If you fear a book will counter all your parenting, you have bigger concerns than books.

Click through, read it, and bookmark it so that the next time someone starts talking down about YA, you can send them Pearson's essay.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Jennifer said...

Hah, that's almost the same as my snark - Parents are responsible for communicating their family's values and rules about reading content to children. If your kids are reading things they shouldn't be, you've got bigger problems than books. I've never actually been allowed to say that to a parent though....

Bethany Grace said...

I really appreciate this post. It's hard to put that idea into words, but it is so crucial to understanding YAL.

Tasha said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! Pearson puts it so much better than I have ever managed to.

Paige Y. said...


Can I share your snark with the librarians in my district? It's perfect -- I should have it posted in my library.