If your Internet House is situated anywhere near the sphere YA literature occupies on Twitter, you have probably seen this article published on the Wall Street Journal's website regarding the overwhelming darkness and depravity of the books written for today's teenagers.
Here are one, two, and three other blog posts written in response to it, all of which I recommend that you read. (If you can't be bothered to read all of them, go in the order that I've listed them.) The first is by Linda Holmes from NPR, and she links to the other two.
Maureen Johnson lead a Twitter-based campaign to object to the article, asking her followers to tweet with the hash tag #YAsaves what positive effects YA books have had on them. There were over 50,000 responses.
Yes, there are many dark YA books. Some of them I love to pieces. Others I have chosen to avoid. There are books that I have regretted reading. Some of these I re-read when I was older and loved (Looking For Alaska, and I expect Catcher In The Rye will be the same), and some of them I have simply tried to forget about.
Yes, there is some risk to picking up a book. I don't know which of those categories it will fall under (although I'm pretty good at guessing by now). Most protestors are saying "No! YA is amazing and I love it!" While I do think YA is amazing stuff (in general), and I do love it, I'm not going to pretend that there isn't anything "bad" about it.
But do I think that the books I read before I was ready, or even now wouldn't want to read, should be banned? No no no no no no no. Do I think that those books shouldn't even exist? No.
Just because a book isn't for me doesn't mean that it isn't for anyone. I Am J by Chris Beam, for instance, bothered me greatly when I read it a month or two ago. However, that didn't prevent me from recognizing the fact that others have, do, and will enjoy it. I don't want it off the shelves. I just want it off my shelves. And that's my personal choice.
The writer of the article says that banning books is just "guidance." It's what in parenting is called "taste." No. Guidance is saying "This is what I would recommend to you, and I would rather that you not read that." Banning is "Not only do I not want you to read this, but I'm not going to let you read it, and I'm not going to let anyone else read it, either." There is a huge difference.
In the same line as my last post, some teenagers need those books. Some teenagers are ready for some kinds of books at a given age, and others aren't. It depends on the person knowing what he or she is comfortable with. And yes, sometimes mistakes are made.
Am I eternally scarred by my mistakes? No. Is my future, personality, and mental health totally screwed up because of them? No.
There is a big difference between a bad book and a book that I or anyone else does not want to read. Let people decide for themselves which books to read, and if you don't think your teenager is mature enough to do that for themselves, 1. You're probably wrong, and 2. Work with him or her, rather than for him or her. Because there is also a difference between what parents want their kids reading, and what they're ready to read.