Why Young Adult Fiction is NOT a Dangerous Fantasy

Out there in the interwebs somewhere exists a person with the name Joe Nutt.

Mr. Nutt has published an article that I will not link to here, as to not give his ridiculous idea more attention by way of web traffic. This article argues that Young Adult fiction is a dangerous fantasy.

Now, I do not read YA fiction regularly. I have read it in the past, and I have enjoyed what I’ve read in the past.

I am not an avid YA reader, nor can I name the top YA novels out today.

However, I am against people criticizing anyone for reading anything, .

All reading (even reading his article) is, by nature, reading. And reading is good.

No matter whether that takes the form of a graphic novel, comic strip, back of a cereal box, Shakespearean play, or YA novel.

In the paragraphs below, I will examine some of the points Mr. Nutt makes and attempt to counter them.

Be ready. This article is much more… blunt… than my typical works.


His first paragraph is probably the worst paragraph I’ve read in quite awhile, and that includes the many outrageous things Mr. Trump says.

What he describes is his idea for a YA novel, and it implies that being a transgender school dropout with autism and being a self-harmer is a bad thing. Excuse me. I’m sorry that people are transgender. I’m sorry they have autism. I’m sorry they drop out. I’m sorry they self harm.

Actually, no I’m not.

Because there are people who are transgender. There are people who are on the autism spectrum. There are people who self harm. There are people who have dropped out.

We need books that relate to their readers.

I’m sorry that your classic novels don’t relate to their readers. Not everything can relate. And that’s okay. Not everything has to relate. However, when the goal is to get people reading, having stories that they can relate to is a good thing.

Additionally, having stories with diverse characters and situations is good for everyone who reads them, even people who can’t directly relate. Because empathy is important, and spending time in a story with someone who is experiencing those things can teach us about their situation and open our minds to things we never would have seen otherwise.

As a side note, I don’t believe that embarking “on a magical quest to find an ancient crystal with the power to render all weapons useless” really is a plot line that you would find in a YA novel, anyway. That would fit better in other genres. But I digress.


Next, Mr. Nutt describes his life as a teacher of English. He describes his painstaking efforts to create “genuinely literate adults” as if “literate adults” are somehow not genuine.

Do tell me what the difference is.

Let’s take a look at what our dear friend, the dictionary, has to say on being literate:

Literate.JPG

Do you see anywhere in there where it says that a literate person has to be genuine or only read a specific type of writing? I don’t.

I see that they need to have the ability to read and write. I also see that they can be versed in literature and/or creative writing. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the definition of “literature” as well.

literature.JPG

Hmmm. Mr. Nutt appears to be implying that YA novels are not “considered to be very good” or that they might “have lasting importance.” Now, we wouldn’t want to attempt to assume that we know what will be deemed as “very good” and important to future generations, would we?

If we look at the second and third points, we see a much broader definition of literature. Now, unless you can prove to me that a YA novel is not a book, I believe YA fits into this definition.


Next, he states that teenagers don’t like books that proselytize. No, they probably don’t. Then, he insinuates that YA novels are attempting to proselytize teenagers to something he doesn’t clearly define.

He argues that YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” and is like reading a novelized form of a gossip/celebrity magazine.

I don’t believe so, but even if they were.

So?

So what?

People are reading. People are empathizing. People are learning.

Does it matter what form that it takes?


Next he goes on to describe that school libraries (in the UK) are emptying their shelves of nonfiction.

I can’t speak to situations in the UK, but in learning about the state of school libraries at my university here in the US, I see that budgets are being cut. When budgets are cut, libraries take a hit. Nonfiction isn’t always cheap.

Personally, I love nonfiction, and I love reading it. I see the importance of allowing our youth to read nonfiction. I will take the stance of one who encourages people to read nonfiction… just like Mr. Nutt should encourage people to read novels he deems appropriate.

However, neither of us should criticize anyone for reading what they enjoy reading. That’s not our jobs. Our job is to encourage reading in all forms and to allow them the chance to branch out. If they do, great. If they don’t, great.


After that, he goes on a tangent about how we as a society should look at how we’ve starved these poor children from a proper “literary inheritance.”

He says, “There is a world of difference between being able to decode symbols on a page and engaging with the thoughts and ideas of intelligent men and women who have important things to say, things which may even make that adult life, still some years off, a richer and a happier experience.”

Really?

It appears, again, that Mr. Nutt has placed judgement on something he shouldn’t be judging.

Are YA authors not intelligent? Do they not have important things to say? Can their novels not make adult life a richer and happier experience?


He then poses several questions to publishers.

Are YA novels culturally valid and something we should value? Do they introduce teenagers to the adult world?

He then goes on to judge publishers for patronizing teenagers and turning them off to reading “with books they think are good for them, instead of helping them seek out and enjoy books that matter.”

Tell me this is satire.

Mr. Nutt is doing the same thing he accuses them of doing. He believes he knows what is best for young readers, and YA isn’t it.

He believes he knows what books matter and what books don’t matter.

That is not okay.

I’m sorry that you can’t see the value in YA, but don’t try and shut off an entire group of books from people who enjoy them because you don’t believe they matter.


Lastly, YA is often read by adults more than teenagers, so everything he’s arguing is nearly invalid anyway.


Thanks for sticking through that with me!


Works Cited

“Literate.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literate

“Literature.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature

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On Youth

via Daily Prompt: Youth

Youth is a strange topic for me.

I am currently considered to be young, youthful, a “youth.” However, I’m also not young enough anymore.

The other day, I was out with a friend and I realized that the store “Forever 21” no longer applies to me.

For years, as a college student who was much younger than her peers, I struggled with being too young. I waited years in agony, wishing I was eighteen. Then, once I’d turned eighteen, the wait to turn twenty-one was agonizing.

My husband is almost four years older than me, but we match each other intellectually. When he got a job at a 21+ restaurant,  I couldn’t go and support him by eating there.

Sometimes friends would forget my age, and they would invite me out places that I wasn’t able to get into. I would appreciate the invites, but it was always awkward having to remind them I’m so young.

Recently, I was out at that same restaurant when a friend came in with a group. As their group was leaving, we caught up while walking back to my car. He remarked that he frequently forgot how young I was. He’s about seven years older than me.

To counter that, I often forget how “old” he is.

In other areas of my life, I am often the youngest person around. Square dancing has very few members in our area who are under the age of forty. Clogging has more younger members, but we’re still a minority.

In my sorority’s local alumnae chapter, I am one of a few young women who participate.

My hobbies and interests draw me to older folk. Even my profession is full of people who are typically more than ten years my senior.

While working at my university recently, I realized that most of the people there are now younger than me. For years, they were all older than me, and I saw them as way more smart and capable.

Now (for the most part), I see them as younger than me and find myself trying to take on a mentor role for them.

All of that considered, I can’t seem to find my “home.” People my age don’t often have the same interests that I do, but people who are older but who have the same interests seem to not want to include me because I’m so young and inexperienced compared to them.

I have a few close friends (who are close to my age) who I see typically once a week on non-busy weeks. Other than that, I don’t have a “squad.”

I suppose I will be stuck in this stage until my peers catch up to me in interests. I will forever be the awkward, weird one with strange hobbies, but I suppose I will be the master of those by the time the rest catch up 😉

Enough

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything on here. I’m so sorry. It’s been a busy several months, but once again I find myself horrified and nearly speechless at the actions of others.

I just don’t know what to think.

I’m not going to talk about guns (though something needs to change) or religion (though it really shouldn’t be blamed for this). I’m going to talk about people. Specifically, the people, most of whom were likely part of the LGBTQ+ community, who were murdered and injured on Sunday.

There have been enough mass shootings. One is enough too many, but there have been way more than just one. There are now enough people I know, myself and my boss included whose birthdays have been marked by a horrible mass shooting event.

There are now enough people who won’t get to celebrate another birthday because they’ve been murdered in a mass shooting. There are now enough parents and family members who won’t get to celebrate a birthday of a loved one because they were torn away from this world too early.

One is enough too many.

Enough.

Enough judging others for who they are.

Enough telling others they aren’t good enough or are going to go to hell because of who they are or for this choice or that. Enough making yourself the judge of other people’s bodies, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and anything else other people do.

Just enough.

Now is the time for action.

Now is the time to reconsider our policies.

Now is the time to stop judging others.

Now is the time to create a culture and society where everyone is welcome to be who they are.

Now is the time to be kind to others.

Now is the time to be the change.

Donate. Give back. Vote. Run for office. Call out others for hate. Stand up for people. Stop using language that perpetuates a view that others are less than you. Just do something good.

I’ve had enough of prayers, silence, inaction, false promises, hate, injustice, death, murder, and judgement.


I want you to know that you are loved and cared for and that you matter.

You are beautiful. Your soul is beautiful.

You are intelligent.

You are supported.

You are enough.


I want you to know that:

We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;

We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda


Additionally, I recently saw the play, Hand to God. This was a quote from the producer, which I felt was extremely relevant. How do we share the blame?

Hand to God was a surprise hit in New York, but, more than that, it is a reflection of a dark and disturbing time in America. Random violence is at an all-time high. Presidential politics are reduced to schoolyard behavior. A loss of faith and civility dominate the social landscape. More often than not, fear causes us to lash out in our grief instead of seeking out the help needed for healing. Pressure leads us to bad behavior and unhealthy habits. The constant hate and violence that we witness causes us to search for a scapegoat. Hand to God asks the question:

GA Adventures – Reflection: February 2016

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here.

Prompt

  • Think about our discussion and worksheets on values. Were you surprised at all? Do you believe the worksheet didn’t quite get it right, or does it fall in line with your idea of yourself? Do you see how your values play into your life? Feel free to share anything related to values.
  • Think about your digital story. Do you have an idea of what it will look like? Is there anything you need to know in order to complete it? What do you think will help you complete it without stress?

Response

Part A

The way we structured the training sessions, the fall (for the most part) focused on learning about the office and social issues. For the spring semester, Starla and I decided to focus more on the students.

Our February training was on values, and I led the scholars through a couple of values inventories.

The first one was called Choices and Values: What’s Important to Me? and the second one was called the Life Values Inventory.

I took them both in advance of the training, and I’ve done Choices and Values in the past.

In terms of how I scored, my scores for my original Choices and Values and for the most recent one were almost identical.photo 1 (4)

According to this inventory, I value:

  • Altruism, Compassion, Fairness, and Justice
  • Emotional Well-Being and Stability
  • Education, Intelligence, and Wisdom
  • Artistic Appreciation
  • Family, Love, and Emotional Security.

I definitely wasn’t surprised with the results, since they nearly matched my previous one. I can see connections between them. Family, Love, and Emotional Security are tied to Emotional Well-Being and Stability. To achieve those feelings, I strive to educate myself and use art as a coping mechanism.

Altruism, Compassion, Fairness, and Justice are things I connect with deeply. Witnessing unfair or unjust actions get me so fired up that I sometimes have a hard time focusing until I can take a breather and figure out what I can do to help remedy the injustices.

I’m an extremely empathetic person, and I believe that the most progress is made when people are compassionate.

These values are the ones that drive my “big” choices: my career, my family life, my free time. For example, I chose library and information science because I feel it’s a career where I can help contribute to fixing some of our larger societal issues.

The second inventory was new to me, but I feel it gave an accurate representation of me in terms of my more subconscious decisions.

My top scores were Achievement, Belonging, Concern for Others, and Responsibility.

Some of these obviously connect to the other inventory, but I feel like these points drive me every day even when I don’t realize it.

My need to belong drives me from when I get up in the morning. It drives my choices as to what I wear and what I say. This is one that I’m working on. I want to belong, but I want to be happy in my own skin at the same time.

I often put the needs and wants of others ahead of myself, but helping others, even in a small way, satisfies me.

Achievement to me means feeling like I’ve learned something and that I’ve accomplished something. It doesn’t have to be big, but I want to feel like what I’m doing matters.

Responsibility ties in with Concern for Others and feeds into me feeling like a grandma a lot. However, being trustworthy and dependable are extremely important (and I can even see how being responsible contributes to me feeling like I belong…).

Part B

I don’t have a lot done towards my digital story, but I do have an idea of how I want it to go. Since I’ve already made two, I feel confident of my ability to make another alongside the scholars.

I think that I just need to take several hours to buckle down and get it done, and that will be the least-stressful way to get it done.


Thanks for taking the time to read through this reflection on values!

 

Three Cheers for Two Years

When I got the notification that I’ve been on WordPress for two years, I was kind of surprised. It feels like I’ve been blogging forever, and it’s weird to think that I used to hate blogs.WP Anniversary.JPG

Looking back at the blogging goals I set for myself this time last year, I can definitely tell the effect starting grad school has had on this blog.

I did really well for the first half of the year, in my opinion, but as school started, my writings faded down to maybe once a month.

Over the course of the year, I’ve created series, added more pictures and media, and for a while, I did have a regular schedule.

The goals are still good ones I would like to keep in mind as I move forward, but I still might not post to this blog as consistently as I want to while I’m still a grad student.

Hopefully I will still update this blog somewhat regularly, but I am quite busy now that school is in full swing.

I hope you have enjoyed the past two years with me, and I hope you continue checking in with me every now and then.

For now, you can follow me at Earth Lib Perspectives, a fun blog I’ve created to fulfill a requirement for a class. I will be updating that blog weekly throughout the spring semester with postings for assignments, book reviews, and more.

Happy Reading!

GA Adventures – Reflection: January 2016

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here.

Prompt

  • Now that you’ve had a little bit of an overview and discussion on white privilege and inequality, take time to talk about what next steps for you might be.
  • What was one takeaway point from either the article or the discussion?

ResponseCenter for Service and Learning. Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program Jacket

January’s training was led by Myron Duff, who is an exceptional person. He had us read the article “White Privilege Shapes the US” by Robert Jensen beforehand, and most of our discussion focused on white privilege.


As a white person, I do benefit from white privilege in ways that I don’t always notice. Part of my responsibility is to “check” my privileges. I’ve always found the article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh to be a helpful reminder of my privileges as a white person.

In the past few years, I believe I have gotten to the point where I can acknowledge my privilege and how it benefits me constantly.

However, I’ve always had difficulty in figuring out what my next steps are, and I’m stuck.

But I do have a few ideas on what my next steps might be, and if you have ideas, please let me know. These are only ideas; they are NOT perfect, and they can always be changed.

  • Continue to check my privilege.
  • Listen to people of color.
    • And I don’t mean to stop talking when they start talking. I mean to actually listen to them. They can tell their stories better than I ever could. They can tell us what they need, and they don’t need me imposing on them what I think they need.
    • Also, don’t force people of color to speak out of the blue and if they don’t want to. Don’t force them to speak for everyone of their race. Each person’s journey through life is unique, and they can’t speak for everyone’s experiences just like I can’t speak for every white person’s experience. But if they do speak, listen to them and believe them.
  • Stand up when I see racial injustices happening.
    • And no, I don’t mean just major racist things. I mean everyday microaggressions, stopping people from planning racist-themed events, etc.
    • And don’t just yell at them. Do what you can to educate people. Some people won’t want to engage with you, but try to be persistent. There aren’t people who are beyond learning.
  • Educate Myself.
    • I don’t know everything there is to know about race, social justice, and equity, so I should always be looking to learn more.
  • Don’t contribute to the system of inequity as much as possible.
    • One hard truth about acknowledging my privilege is knowing that it does benefit me in ways I probably won’t ever see and know.
    • This point isn’t easy because I haven’t found a how-to manual on it. Being conscious that racial inequity exists is one thing, but walking through the rest of my life not doing anything about it just makes it worse.

Those are some ideas I have about my next steps.

If you have questions, are confused about something, or just want to learn more, here are a few things to check out:

Kat Blaque

Everyday Feminism

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

On a Plate by Toby Morris


Here are a couple of takeaways I have from the discussion and article:

  • The idea of race and racial inequality is different based on what country you’re from.
    • Probably even what city.
  • Even if I do work super hard to reach a certain level, I have been given a boost by my whiteness somewhere along the way.

This is a long, but really important reflection. I put it off because I was scared of what the reaction to it might be. That’s okay, because this discussion isn’t really about me and my feelings; it’s much bigger than that.

My Year in Review: 2015

2015 was an awesome year for me.

Here’s some of what I did (in no particular order):

  1. I got accepted to grad school!photo
  2. I accepted a graduate assistantship with Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement.photo 1 (4)
  3. I completed square dancing lessons and went through plus square dancing lessons.10945533_10205733396476823_249063993592293292_n
  4. I started clogging.IMG_5224.jpg
  5. I attended my first two professional conferences.12238121_10207929170329797_5391703298051292162_o
  6. My best friend got married, and I was her “Lady of Honor.”photo 5 (3).JPG
  7. I participated in the IUPUI Regatta.photo 2 (5).JPG
  8. I read 50 books. UPDATE! I’ve read 52 books, since I just finished Lending a Paw and Borrowed Crime by Laurie Cass.Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015
  9. I voted for the first time.12183954_10207845843046667_8556377505169139438_o.jpg
  10. I started knitting using a loom.photo 3 (2).JPG
  11. I biked to work for the first time.photo (2)
  12. I became VP of Membership for the alumnae chapter of my sorority.12314535_674288999379794_3357469934167776297_o.jpg
  13. I successfully completed my first semester of graduate school with a 4.0!photo 4
  14. We celebrated one year with our Little!12132485_10207711842376734_5082884238161835521_o.jpg
  15. Daniel and I celebrated one year together as a married couple!11160640_10207506329359037_7245455612742873513_o.jpg
  16. I participated in National Novel Writing Month (again).Me and Kayla writing during the first day of NaNoWriMo.
  17. And just because this picture gives me so much happiness… 🙂887410_10207864805360713_50468107508961177_o.jpg

I hope you had a wonderful 2015, and if not, I hope your 2016 is awesome!