Friday, August 8, 2008

Publishers Weekly Article - When YA Might Not be OK

I was reading Read Roger this afternoon and his post discussed an article in Publisher's Weekly entitled "When YA Might Not be OK." In this article the librarian said that she often gets confident readers of 10 or 11 who are wanting to read up. They want things like Twilight, or Pretties, or Gossip Girl. And she doesn't feel comfortable giving them to them, so she attempts to stear them to more suitable material. Roger said it, "gives [him] the willies." And it sort of did me too.

When a kid asks for a title specifically I do my best to locate that title. I don't feel its up to me to judge whether or not they should be reading it. I might think they aren't old enough, but I certainly wouldn't say anything. If luck has it and it isn't available (and usually even if it is) I suggest titles that I think would suit them better. As in, "and while you're at it why don't you try these titles too? I think you'll like them."

My best example is a voracious 11 year old reader that was one of my most regular patrons a few years back. She ran up to me one day and told me she had just read Candy by Kevin Brooks and had absolutely LOVED it. Never would I have thought to recommend that title to her, but after that (and with her father's permission) I started recommending all sorts of titles. After all, why not? I certainly read up at her age.

Essentially, what my reference interviews boil down to is I ask what books they have enjoyed in the past and try to recommend titles based on that. After all, the whole point is to encourage kids to read, not to stifle their interest. Nothing says, "don't bother ever coming to ask me for help again because I am not really interesting in helping you," than saying no you can't read that book because I don't think you're not old enough for it. I'm not saying don't use your judgement, but an 11 year old wanting to read Twilight? Sure bring it on.

8 comments:

Teen Troves said...

I haven't read the article yet, but I HATE that kind of literary snobbery. I can understand if someone comes asking for recommendations that, as librarians, we wouldn't necessarily direct 10-12 year olds to Gossip Girl but like you said if they ask for it it's our job to do our best to locate it. Grr. That just annoys me to no end!

-Mollie

joanna said...

I run into this problem the most when my 2nd and 3rd grade teachers bring classes for library time at my public library. The kids will ask me about a YA book and I'll reply by saying it's a teen book. A couple of times I have heard the response "So I can't read it?" To which I usually reply something like the book was written for teens so you might want to sit and read it a bit before checking it out. Sometimes the teacher steps in and suggests that the student find something else in our juvenile section.

Patti said...

I think thats a great way to deal with it - read a bit and if it still interests you go for it.

Honestly, I can't imagine most kids that young would have the reading comprehension to complete a teen book.

theyayayas said...

My first reaction as I read the article was, "Wait, Twilight is not appropriate for 11 and 12 year olds?" I would not have a problem with giving any of the books mentioned to a reader that age. They wouldn't necessarily be the ones I'd recommend, but if I was asked, no problem.

(Then again, I did read Interview with the Vampire when I was 12 and moved on to the Mayfair witches the next year. Meanwhile, some of my classmates were already reading Jean Auel...)

Now, younger kids, that's different. The few times it's happened, I think I've taken the easy way out by responding, "That book is in the teen section. Would your parents be okay with you reading it?" Which is more CYA than give the reader what they want, but if the kid says their parents don't care or would be okay with it, then we go and find the book. And hopefully the child will get the implication that there's mature content. If they don't ask but get the book on their own (like all those elementary school kids reading OT or 16+ rated manga), I don't say anything.

Trisha

Jenn H. said...

At 10 I was reading V. C. Andrews and romance novels, so there is no way I can censor kids now. I just have to trust that their parents are paying attention and that the kids will be okay. I didn't turn out too warped, right?

Anonymous said...

I would MUCH rather the 11 or 12 year olds ask for one of those YA titles than say the authors I hear about, e.g. Zane, Noire, and other similar authors...

joanna said...

My younger elem kids above usually pick what they think are "scary stories" books from the teen section. (or Princess Diaries or a series like Cheetah Girls) I do try to show them scary stories in the juvenile section, but the covers on the teen books are way too appealing. These are also kids who like to check out the wrestler bios from the adult section. I agree with you Patti on the comprehension and flat out reading level. One of my goals this year is to book talk more middle-grade books to get them excited about that section. It's a lot more fun when you actually understand what you are reading!

Patti said...

Oh V.C. Andrews how I loved you. I read those at about the same age too Jenn. They were so sordid, I couldn't get enough. Then came the day I realized she was dead and that someone was publishing her "unfinished manuscripts" and that it was probably untrue that she had a gazillion manuscripts just laying around. That was a sad sad day when the love affair with Ms. Andrews died.