The Issues Regarding YA

After reading some of the articles about YA literature as well as some of the discussions we have had regarding the issues of YA, I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are so many conflicts surrounding literature. I have never been aware of terms such as censorship or readership, I didn’t even know there was supposed to be a certain age limit to reading certain books. To me literature is simple, if you enjoy reading a certain genre of book, or certain books by an author, no matter what age you should be able to enjoy that freedom of reading. Knowing that certain books are even banned from schools worry me, we are giving kids this idea that literature is restricted unless you are a certain age. Reading is a freedom, I was reading Harry Potter in grade.3, and now looking at different articles on the internet they have banned Harry Potter books in the past, why? Because the issues are to difficult for children to handle? Yet we expect kids to be making decisions about their lives by the time they reach a certain age, yet we ban books and literature and put a specific age limit on books. What does this accomplish? Children already are veering away from literature and moving towards the age of technology, whole generations will go without knowing the joys of reading a book that has meaning in it. We tell kids that they are to young to deal with certain issues such as sex, violence, and drugs in books, yet they are dealing with these issues in their daily lives at young ages. Reading certain literature at a certain age does not make you a bad person, reading Harry Potter at any age is a freedom, as an adult if I want to read a children’s book because of enjoyment why should there be judgement? These issues concern and frustrate me, and the more I read about censorship or readership or age limits on books and what should or shouldn’t be considered YA literature is disturbing. Adolescent, or puberty is hard enough as is, why should others who think they know better decide what someone can read. We take books away from teens with issues to “protect” them yet they should be reading about current issues, what better way then reading it through books. How far should we go when we decided for others what to read? If a certain book contains issues about gang or drug abuse, should we ban it? If so then shouldn’t we ban the news as well? Should teenagers be reading about current issues because they are young and fragile? Yet we expect them to take make informed and right decisions in their lives, when we tell them what they can or can’t read depending on their age.

-Chelsea Claxton


4 thoughts on “The Issues Regarding YA

  1. Taryn says:

    Censorship and readership are realities that I’m assuming every author considers extensively, given the history of books that have been censored, and the marketing of books in shops (Chapters having a YA section, children’s section, literature section, etc.). Still, while your post paints a fairly negative picture, I do want to argue that we are moving out of the age of censorship. How to Kill a Mockingbird was banned in many of the American states for years, but today, it’s a required reading in many schools. I agree that censorship is ridiculous, but I think that, in a lot of ways, it parallels the ratings of movies. An R-rated movie is rated R for violence, sexual content, or otherwise “disturbing” material; I feel like readership and censorship are a way of creating a system like this for books. Just because books aren’t visual images the way that films are, doesn’t mean that they don’t create mental images that can be just as powerful. I wasn’t censored as a kid, so I did read material that might not have been “appropriate” at that age. You’re totally justified and correct in saying that youth are experiencing the things that are being censored in their everyday life, but I disagree with you when it comes to saying that reading a book that deals with drugs, alcohol, or abuse, will somehow help them deal with the conflicts in their own lives. If they read these books, do they have an adult in their life that can help clarify the issues presented? An adult they can go to with questions? It’s like the PG-rating given to movies that might deal with some things a kid isn’t able to understand, yet. We can’t regulate books the way we do movies. We can’t make sure a kid has an adult to talk to once they’ve finished the book. I don’t agree with censorship, but I definitely see how it’s justified.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rudysmitty says:

    I would actually like to see books use more of a movie style rating scale to distinguish between books. When you go to a movie store, all of the movies are there for you to buy, regardless of rating. The rating serves as a benchmark so that you can gauge whether or not the content of the movie is what you are expecting from it/ or are specifically looking for in the content. Like movies, I would be happy to see books with a rating as a guideline or a “heads up” so that the drugs, sex, violence, etc. doesn’t catch a reader off guard (and I have definitely been caught off guard by books before). This way, teenagers and children could read at a reading level (grade 7,8, etc) that they are comfortable with while also getting to experience content that they are comfortable with.

    With this rating system, schools could provide books of a higher reading level that still fell within a content range that they felt was appropriate. So while the intense drug content of Ellen Hopkins novels may not make the cut (and oddly, Ellen Hopkins does make the cut in my junior high and high school), the more moderate drug content of Swimmers would make the cut. This way, YA lit doesn’t get completely thrown out of school libraries, but instead provides a more gradual transition into YA lit that would encourage kids to pursue YA lit further.
    – Ryan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely agree with both comments I think for me I was never in a position to have someone tell me I can’t read a book, I was a goody two shoes so I got to read books from the restricted section of the library at my school and I never understood at the time that there was a reason they were in the restricted are. For me reading was always a freedom, and it wasn’t until starting university that there are so many issues regarding books. It was strange for me that there is so much controversy surrounding certain books.


  4. I agree that the general public seems to underestimate the maturity and capability in young readers to determine what books are beneficial to them and what they should or shouldn’t be reading. Most books which have been banned or censored, I think pose no threat to young readers.
    That being said, I think that schools should be able to refuse to include books which glamourize or glorify activities or philosophies that are clearly not productive. Things like a terrorist’s manifesto should not be included in a high school library. Parents can also attempt to censor the books that their children read. If you try to take that right away from them, you’re just going to piss a lot of people off and not get anywhere.
    I do think that books should maybe start including some sort of content label, particularly if they contain potentially offensive content. I say this not necessarily for parents or schools that want to censor, but also for readers who would feel uncomfortable reading about a transgender teenager who wants to have sex with his father or other such content.
    I plan on becoming a high school English teacher and I think that I would include brief content descriptions with books. I think that students can choose what they want to read, but that they should have some idea of what they’re getting themselves into. For example, for The Lesser Blessed, I would maybe just have a little list saying “Includes: somewhat explicit sex scene, regular sexual thoughts of a teenage boy, depictions of drugs, sex, and violence in a very inglorious way” or something like that.
    All that being said, I think that young people should more-or-less be able to choose what they read. If they are curious about drugs or sex, I would much rather they read books which will help them explore these topics rather than explore them at a party when they may or may not be at a lower state of decision making. Young people are driven by curiosity, the need for experience and expertise and I think they can get that through a book, which is a much safer environment than the real world. They can also experience things they couldn’t experience in the real world, like what it would be like to be a male aboriginal teenager living in Fort Smith.
    I think this is also largely true for most adults, or at least for myself, but I suppose I’m a young adult so I don’t know that that counts. But I’m interested to know what doing hard drugs is like but am largely unwilling to actually try them, so literature like this is a great medium for me and I think for most people as well.


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