A Few Thoughts On That WSJ Article

I wasn’t going to blog about this. Really, I wasn’t. My plan was to do the same thing I did when this circus of a disaster happened, which was to duck behind the sofa with a two-liter of Coke and some popcorn until the whole thing blew over. Oh, and to keep my mouth firmly shut.

I planned to blog about Operation Hotmother, which will go into effect tomorrow. But now you’ll have to wait one more day.

Try not to let the suspense kill you.

So if you haven’t read the Wall Street Journal’s article on the darkness of Young Adult literature, you can find it here. Go read it, then come back here and leave your thoughts.

For those of you who have read it, well, I have some things to say.

First and foremost, as you might have guessed, I didn’t like the article. I took a poll on Twitter and found that many people shared my reasons for disliking it: the tone was snarky, the article’s author seemed unfamiliar with the true message of the books she named, and there were several generalizations.

I won’t go into the details of the article because A) you’ve probably all read it and hashed out its problems for yourselves and B) it is 10:21 pm, which is roughly 2 1/2 hours after my preferred bedtime.

But it did get me thinking about how I will approach the issue of what is commonly known as “censorship” with my own little girl.

Eventually, Little Bit Riley will no longer be so little. She’ll start kindergarten, then elementary school, and then–the poor dear–she’ll have to brave the world of junior high. And at some point, chances are she’ll want to read something.

(Unless she’s not a reader, but that would mean she’s not my child, and if that’s the case I’ll need an explanation for how the heck some other girl’s baby got in my belly.)

(I digress.)

So, what will I do as far as guiding her choices–not only for what books she reads, but what TV shows and movies she watches? My guess is, I’ll treat these areas of her life in much the same way as I would monitor who her friends are and whose car she gets into and what she does after school: in other words, I’ll act out of common sense and *gasp* WISDOM.

If she takes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone off our bookcase when she’s ten and asks if she can read it, I’ll probably say something like this: “Of course you can read it, sweet girl! Did you know that’s my favorite series? Let me know what you think!” Because, you know what? Reading about witches and wizards who are hunted by an evil Dark Lord  is not going to tempt her to run away in search of Hogwarts with a wooden stick in her pocket and a caged owl in her hand.

(And, really, how would she even capture an owl? That’s probably the first question I would ask once I caught her.)

If she comes home one day with a copy of Twilight in her backpack, what will I say? Probably something like, “You’re gonna get hooked on that one. Just remember, Edward wouldn’t be a very good boyfriend in real life.” And I would leave it at that, because even though I’ve got serious issues with how Edward treats Bella throughout that series, I don’t have to pound those issues into my daughter’s head.

If she comes home with some super-pale and obsessive guy who’s looking at her like maybe he’d like to drink her blood, well, then we’ll have a talk.

What if she starts talking about The Hunger Games? “Sure, honey, it’s a great story. Very violent, though, so if it gets to be too much, just skim through the gory sections.”

And if she wants to read one of those other books mentioned in the article, I’ll let her. I may take a look at the book first and talk to her about it afterwards, but I won’t tell her she can’t read it.

It’s funny; I went to a private Christian high school, and we read all kinds of “dark” books. For REQUIRED reading. Anyone ever read Tess of the D’Urbervilles? How about The Scarlet Letter? 1984? Fahrenheit 451? Lord of the Flies? I could go on and on. In my English classes, we talked about characters that were raped. Characters that had drug problems. Characters who were abused, died violent deaths, or hurt themselves.

I particularly disagreed with the WSJ author’s assumption that reading “dark” material would encourage teens to do extreme things they wouldn’t otherwise have thought about. In my opinion, if they haven’t already thought about it, then reading about it in a book isn’t going to make them do something crazy. If I walk up to some happy, well-adjusted girl and say, “Hey, here’s a pipe bomb. Go put it in your neighbor’s mailbox. It’ll be a real kick!” do you think she would do it? Of course not. Teens aren’t idiots, which I think is something this article really missed.

To not talk about tough issues would make those who struggle with them retreat further into themselves, I would think. And at a time in your life when you refuse to talk about anything difficult for fear of being judged or made fun of, the last thing we need to do is pretend like hard situations don’t exist.

I won’t pretend with my daughter. I’ll offer her guidance and use my own wisdom to determine what’s best for her at what age, but I won’t pretend life is a giant field of daisies and butterflies. I think that would be doing her a great disservice.

There is so much more to say, but it’s now 10:48 pm, and if I don’t go to bed soon I might start babbling in a previously unknown language and sprouting hair in random places all over my body while doing handsprings down the hallway.

That is to say, I need my rest.

Goodnight, friends. YA forever. *fist pump*

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10 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts On That WSJ Article

  1. ansley says:

    Wait…..as a parent, you plan on allowing your kid to make decisions and *gasp* experience life, in all its glory and gore? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?!

  2. ansley says:

    Wait…..as a parent, you plan on allowing your kid to make decisions and *gasp* experience life, in all its glory and gore? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?!

    It’s amazing to me sometimes….parents should be parents. They should, well, parent. Guide. Explain. Talk. Hash things out. Telling kids “No, because I said so” might be one of the worst things you can do.

    BTW, that Jacqueline Howard chick is pretty cray-zay.

    Good to see you 🙂 Hope Little Bit is feeling better!

    1. Anne Riley says:

      YES. I detest hearing a parent say “You’re not allowed to do so-and-so because I said so,” and then the parent goes and does that exact thing with no explanation as to why it’s okay for them. UGH. Good to see you too! She is better, but still teething, the poor thing.

  3. Heather McCorkle says:

    Very well said, and you didn’t even sound angry. Which is why I cannot blog about it! But I’m going out on a limb and we’ll be discussing books on tough subjects tonight on the #WritersRoad chat. It could get heated. I love the focus of your post and how you plan to approach such things with your own daughter. That is exactly what we all need to do with the young people in our lives. It’s about talking to them, not controlling them. Sometimes when we think we’re protecting them, we can end up making things worse by withholding things they need to know.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yes. I think the more open we are with children and teens, the more they feel loved and respected – which is how they should feel. They shouldn’t feel dumb, or overlooked, or patronized.

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