Monday, May 3, 2010

Parents in Young Adult Literature - Response to the New York Times Article

A couple of bloggers have already discussed the parent issue in response to the New York Times article from April 1st, 2010.  Steph Su and Donna @ Bites did great jobs going into detail about the subject. 

Here are my thoughts:

Long gone are the days of Leave It To Beaver. Very few children have the luxury of a stay-at-home mother and a father that works a 9-5 job. Instead of constant supervision, after-school snacks, and nightly family dinners, today's youth must cope with parents that leave for work before they leave for school, coming home to an empty house, and single-parent families.  Can children grow into well-adjusted, responsible citizens after living in this environment? Absolutely. But, would these children be able to relate to a story about a young adult with total support from their parents in all aspects of their lives? Maybe not.

Young Adult Literature is unique.  While a lot of adults do read YAL, it is marketed for the young adult.  It is written with that specific age group in mind.  That means, the book needs to be written in a way that teens will believe in the world the author creates.  In many cases, parents aren't the driving force in their childrens' lives. They are forced to act as the adult in the relationship and become self-sufficient.

Another thing to consider is a young adult novel, it is important for the young adult be the one to solve the problem of the story. Teens need to see examples of other smart, resourceful teens thinking for themselves. What fun would it be to read a story where all the problems are solves for the kid by the adults? Think about THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton. Would it be the classic that it is today if the police or school officials gathered the "Greasers" and the "Socs" up and sat them down to a friendly mediation meeting? No, the kids, as violent and dangerous as it was, handled the situation themselves. That is what we want to read.

So, what do you guys think? Do you miss having a responsible parent in the forefront of the young adult novel of today?

1 comment:

  1. Funny--I ran a YA lit book club with a woman who complained about every single book we read that the adults (parents and teachers) were not more responsible. It's like she didn't get the whole purpose of the YA genre! And, she was a librarian. But, she was awful sweet. She's retired now, so we're free to meet and discuss all of the awful adults from our novels in complete freedom!


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