Librarians more experienced than me can probably recite decades’ worth of myopic YA lit critique, but I have had enough persnickety nitpicking after just two critiques. The combination of Meghan Gurdon’s article and now this Walter Dean Myers business about how Myers preaching the YA gospel will somehow destroy society’s love of mythology… Was the teacher who wrote that article a plant or something? What kind of ego justifies trying to knock a beloved and enjoyed author down a peg in order to look highbrow?
Are more sensationalist articles going to surface in the name of attracting crowds and building page hits? Probably. Sure. But instead of reheating leftover debates, here is a form letter to address any future intellectual laziness:
You recently criticized (author/book/genre) as being too (violent/sexual/shocking/mediocre) for teenagers to read. However, you cited very little evidence in your article (popularity-hungry column) about why this is so. I suggest that when you criticize someone else’s work and an object of literary affection to many, that you show proof of your total experience with the work. Otherwise, you look like a (fool/jerk/yapping chihuahua) in search of a (victim/righteous cause/witch hunt), and that image does not do justice to your cause.
I understand that you are concerned for the media offered to young people these days; we all are. But the issue is not so black and white as you portend it to be. Instead of trying to demand the removal of certain materials, why not simply promote what you believe to be good? You have an outlet for your writing; use it to encourage a (love/lifetime/variety/trust) of reading, and not (fear/avoidance/refusal/anxiety).
The next time you feel the urge to (share/condemn/appreciate) authors or their works, please read the related books in their entirety and consider the full context of the work. There are multitudes of readers groups and librarians online who would love to start a discussion with you.
People Who Take Books Seriously