YA Fiction Increasingly Targeted by the Book Censors
It’s Banned Books Week again and, depressingly, there’s still people trying to stop us from reading whatever we want to. However, the American Library Association (ALA) has revealed the area of literature that is increasingly being targeted is the young adult market, a trend which is “driven by the desire to protect teenagers from tales of sex, drugs and suicide in young adult fiction”.
"Young adult is a big trend right now, and a high number of complaints are directed at those books," said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association, which organizes Banned Books Week. "There is a lot of pressure to keep teenagers safe and protected, especially in urban areas, and we are seeing many more complaints about alcohol, smoking, suicide and sexually explicit material."
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey tops the list, followed closely by Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, about a Native American boy going to a white school. Apparently it was taken off a summer reading list for 11-year-olds by a New York City school because “it focuses on alcohol, poverty and bullying, and includes references to masturbation and physical arousal”. The book won the US National Book award in 2007 for young people's literature.
And it’s not the only one. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher is about “the aftermath of a teen suicide”. The book got to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list — and made the top 10 banned books list in 2012.
"Teenagers tell us that they like to read about what's going on," Stripling said. "They say 'what do they [adults] think we are?', as if teenagers remain naive and uneducated when facing these issues every day. The best way to protect them is to give them an array of things to read. If they are over-sheltered, they will enter the world without coping skills."
It seems to come down to the usual argument: if they read about it, they’ll want to have sex/kill themselves/do drugs/drive a car real fast/just live. I’d also argue that the book banners are incapable or unwilling to allow others to make their own decisions about a particular topic. Isn’t that just another form of mind control?
Banned Books Week runs from September 22-28 and more information is available on the Banned Books Week website.
To leave a comment