Monday, January 16, 2012

I heart YA

A few days ago, I read this. I thought yes, yes, heck yes. I heart YA. Always have. Always will. YA literature is made of awesome sauce!

Then today, I read this.


It left me in tears. I want to rub my eyes out with bleach and forget I ever read it. I'm cringing, knowing there are teachers out there, squeezing all the awesomeness out of that awesome sauce.

What is wrong with YA? Why do some people think the only books worth reading are written for adults, preferably by a long dead author?

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the classics. And my kids do too. So much that they turned our basement into a Shakespearean theater in order to act out his plays. Make stop-motion videos of Charles Dickens' stories. Beg to learn more about the adventures of Odysseus.

But they also hide in the bathroom to get in just one more chapter of Harry Potter. Write their own cartoon-rendition of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jump up and down in giddiness when they get to meet a favorite living author in person. Snuggle in bed with me at night, red-faced, to tell of their crush on a fictional character from a favorite book.

How could these experiences be considered inferior just because they do not come from a "classic"?

Mumble and grumble and grrrr and outright blast it all.

A much more intelligent response (compared to my frustrated ramblings that may or may not make sense) can be read here.


I'm off to write more awesome sauce.

And to leave you on a happier note, have you seen this yet?:


The Writing Hour. said...

:( I don't see what the problem is with books being entertaining! Not every single piece of literature you read is going to "elevate" you and be something by Dickens.

I still love to read and write YA!

Jer said...

I heard about that article from Shannon Hale's blog yesterday and it raised my hackles, too. I totally agree with you. In fact, I sense a blog post of my own simmering on the subject...

Emily said...

I agree with you. Why can't we do both? Classics and Harry Potter?

Also, love the stop motion bookstore!

ilima said...

The Writing Hour-oh the sad sad day when my child doesn't think reading is fun. :(

Jer-Yup. I just couldn't keep my bloggin' mouth shut about it.

Emily-We shouldn't have to choose. It's like Jacob and Edward, why can't I have both? :) My kids are obsessed with that vido. It's pretty neat.

Kelley Lynn said...

Hi there!

I just wanted to let you know that I left you awards over at my blog!!

Pop on over and get em' :)

Emily R. King said...

Hi, Ilima! I'm your newest follower.
I, too, was taken aback by this video. The statement about "real books" made me pause. Isn't everything electronic real? I wasn't impressed.

Ruth Josse said...

Well I guess if we're only allowed to read the classics then we all better close up shop. :) Silliness.

ilima said...


Emily-It was made by bookstore owners, so that explains that last part. It's still pretty neat though.

Ruth-Seriously. *rolling my eyes*

Jolene Perry said...

What I find sad is that there are SO many beautifully written books that are RECENT.

That will show teens that really good writing isn't dead. That MIGHT get them to learn to love to read - let's face it. Faulkner just doesn't "do it" for everybody.

And I think far more important than forcing kids to read the classics is to make them LOVE to read.

I haven't attempted to write a post on this, but you did a fab job :D

Cassie Mae said...

Just like with anything entertaining... movies, music... it all comes down to a matter of taste. And that doesn't mean that the talent doesn't exist in every aspect, whether current or classic. I personally would rather pick up a Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, or even a Twilight. Because I love books that tell a fascinating story. The fact that more young kids are reading because of these books just proves that they are doing what they are intended to do. Entertain, enthrall, and send them to a world outside of their own.

Look at me, chatting away, lol. Long story short... YA rocks. And it takes a good writer to snag the attention of kids who's attention span lasts about 30 seconds. :)

Tess Julia said...

Hello! I'm new to your blog, but I LOVED your video clip. When I'm in a bookstore it's my happy place, and my kids beg to go there or the library too. We are down to one bookstore in our town because Books a Million just closed up, and I'm trying my best to support the remaining one! Call me old-fashioned, but I love the tangible feel of a book.

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm so glad you happened by my blog yesterday, and I'm looking forward to connecting with you! Totally agree with your post, love your feel to your blog, colors, design...and the video clip, simply amazing! Thanks for sharing!

ilima said...

Jolene-Agreed! I just want my children to love reading as much as I do.

Cassie-Dang teenagers need everything so fast these days :)

Honey-My kids beg to go to the bookstore and library too. I love it!

Candy-Kind kind words. Thanks for stopping by!

Jay Noel said...

As an ex-high school English teacher, I can say that the classics and contemporary YA literature can co-exist.

I had boys reading Cormier...they devoured his books. It was amazing to see.

And it opened their minds to when we read Shakespere.

That guy who write that article is a douche.

alice said...

I love YA too! I noticed on Stacy Whitman's blog that you're planning on attending LTUE. Would love to meet you and maybe to lunch together with Stacy?!

ilima said...

Jay-Yes, a d-bag for sure.

Alice-That would be really fun. Let's do it! :)

LAH said...

People can be very stuffy about "only reading classics"-- I mean, they were new at some point, they're only classics because they hit upon something great-- and who's to say a book written tomorrow won't have that same element of greatness? Too many people sell themselves short.

And your kids sound awesome-- I hope to raise such literary savvy children!

Angela Cothran said...

I read that article about Walter Dean Myers too. I wanted to smack my head against the wall. Why are people so snobby when it comes to genre? I think greatness can be found in all kinds of books.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

Entertaining books can still teach. And considering there are so many kids who aren't reading at all, I would rather have them enjoy reading, even if it isn't "the classics."

Great post - new follower :)

Julie Daines said...

I don't think the problem is classics vs. Harry Potter. I think the problem is classics vs. crap.

Just like in the adult genre, there is a lot of YA garbage out there. I think the challenge is to steer the teens away from the garbage and toward the good stuff, be it Shakespeare, Homer, Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, or Walter Dean Myers.

David P. King said...

I enjoy reading (and writing) YA because it makes me feel young again. Not that I'm that old yet. I admit, YA that interests me is a hard find. Much of it alienates guy readers - this is coming from a guy who enjoys a bit of romance in his YA.

I gave you a shout-out on my blog today! :)

ilima said...

Lauren-Thanks. My kids are the best!

Angie-Some of my favorite books are picture books. :)

Tasha-Props to the author that can entertain AND teach.

Julie-Especially today when Joe Shmoe can self-publish with a snap of his fingers.

David-Thanks for the shout out. I agree. I will forever be 17.

Morgan said...

New follower here... Looks like a fab blog! I'm excited to read your posts! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Hey! New follower here. I just wanted to say I absolutely love your blog design! :)

Jeremy Bates said...

i like adult suspense and YA.... however, i teach in a high school but had to teach some young kids for summer school and ended up reading a kids book called The Witches by Ron Dahl... and i must say, it kicks ass! i have to jump genres more often!

Unknown said...

I love YA because it is written for my age group, but I've been reading it since I got out of picture books (I learnt to read reeeeeeaaaaaaallly early) and I'm as much in love with it as ever. In fact, probably moreso.

I don't have any problems with Classics though. I love Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. I just don't get why people keep bashing us over the head with them. 'Read this. It's good for you! It's the only thing worth reading!' Good, but not enticing when people do that.

ilima said...



Jeremy-I love books for kids.

Imogen (one of my favorite names, btw)-Ooh. A teen writer. *bowing with respect and awe*