YA Fiction and Ageism

Week 2:

Carter, Rachel. “I Write Young Adult Novels, and I Refuse to Apologize for It.” The New Republic, 6 June 2014, newrepublic.com/article/118030/adults-shouldnt-be-embarrassed-read-or-write-young-adult-books.

This article was written by an actual author of YA fiction. Rachel Carter is the author of several YA high fantasy novels such as the Black Mage series. She argues that YA fiction is what makes people fall in love with reading, and what keeps it magical even in adulthood. The article serves as a direct rebuttal to Ruth Graham's article on the matter, and does not criticize Graham, but rather offers the viewpoint of an actual author. 

Week 3:

"Children are, for the most part, perfectly decent people but even the very best of them are really terrible critics. Nonetheless, we have begun to look to them for cultural recommendations. This past decade, they have given us Twilight and Harry Potter when, really, they should have kept that bunk for themselves. While it is true that some of their better Pixar films have made this imposition easier to brook, it is also true that older children gave us Divergent and The Fault in our Stars and made it perfectly acceptable for adult humans to speak, with delusional force, about the richness of Dr Who.

Dr Who is a reasonable thing but it is not a Complex Text. Of course, children cannot really be blamed for our grown-up intoxication by their lolly-water. We have no one to charge but ourselves for the embrace not only of items intended for consumption by children but for our demand for childish techniques in ‘adult’ entertainment."

The article (very strongly) states that no-one over the age of 17 should be reading YA fiction for the reason that it;s juvenile and because children aren't very good critics. It argues that even works such as Game of Thrones (which is very graphic and violent indeed) are even too juvenile for works that are actually meaningful and important. This article however, is not as lenient as Ruth Graham's and rather forces things down your throat, saying you cannot read whatever you want.

Razer, Helen. “Attention Young Adult Fiction Fans: Grow Up.” Daily Review, dailyreview.com.au/attention-young-adult-fiction-fans-grow-up/12911/.

Week 4:

DeRosa, Vivian Parkin. “I'm A Teenager And I Don't Like Young Adult Novels. Here's Why.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 21 June 2017, www.google.ca/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_594a8e4de4b062254f3a5a94/amp.

This article tells of someone who is in the target demographic for YA novels and provides reasonable explanations for why they dislike them. It does not force feed anything and is entirely opinion based, and has supportive evidence to back it up.

Week 5:

Anderssen, Erin. “Why There's No Shame in Adults Who Read Young Adult Fiction.” The Globe and Mail, 6 June 2014, www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/im-proud-to-read-young-adult-fiction---and-you-should-be-too/article19050249/.

This serves as a direct counterpart to Ruth Graham's article and argues completely against it, with a logical and reasonable standpoint, rather than letting emotion prevail over reason and civility. It is solely opinion-based and still allows the viewer to develop their own opinions.

“Should Adults Be Embarrassed To Read Young-Adult Books?” NPR, NPR, 8 June 2014, www.npr.org/2014/06/08/320024790/should-adults-be-embarrassed-to-read-young-adult-books.

This short Radio Interview with Ruth Graham herself allows Graham to more fully explain her opinions and views. She explains that many YA novels are far better than she could give them credit for and she is very open to the criticisms of her article that she has received. She explains she only used the examples that she did because they were relevant and that many adult books too, are simplistic and "non-intellectual." It shows her in more of a better light than the article does.

Week 6:

Carter, Rachel. “I Write Young Adult Novels, and I Refuse to Apologize for It.” The New Republic, 6 June 2014, newrepublic.com/article/118030/adults-shouldnt-be-embarrassed-read-or-write-young-adult-books.

This article is from a YA fiction writer herself and explains from her standpoint why she writes and reads it, and why, as a writer of the genre, she feels that no one should be embarrassed to read anything outside of their target demographic.

Sabin, Amanda. “The Problem with Young Adult Fiction.” The Odyssey Online, 2 May 2016, www.theodysseyonline.com/problem-young-adult-fiction.

This online article outlines a problem that previous articles haven't mentioned- YA fiction teaches kids to hate themselves because the main characters are so flawless and heroic and they're at an age that is very close to their target audience, which makes kids think "why am I not good enough?" and gives them unrealistic expectations of life.

Week 7:

DeRosa, Vivian Parkin. “I'm A Teenager And I Don't Like Young Adult Novels. Here's Why.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 21 June 2017, www.google.ca/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_594a8e4de4b062254f3a5a94/amp.

This article is from teenage writer Vivian Parkin Derosa. She intelligently outlines why exactly she doesn't like novels that are targeted towards her age demographic. Though she does state it is an unpopular opinion, she argues her viewpoint in a civil manner,and it allows us to see into the mind of the exact demographic so as to truly understand why YA fiction is often criticized. 

Week 8:

Beck, Julie. “The Adult Lessons of YA Fiction.” The Atlantic, 2014, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/06/the-adult-lessons-of-ya-fiction/372417/.

This Article from the Atlantic also calls out Graham directly, specifically against her point that YA novels don't teach us anything useful. The article states that, they do because "just because you learn something at 16, doesn't mean you won't have to relearn it over and over again throughout life"

Rosenberg, Alyssa. “No, You Do Not Have to Be Ashamed of Reading Young Adult Fiction.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 June 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2014/06/06/no-you-do-not-have-to-be-ashamed-of-reading-young-adult-fiction/?utm_term.

Another article from the Odyssey, only geared towards other journalists, including Graham that have said the same things. It provides an educated, well fleshed-out argument containing plenty of pieces of information as to why adults should not have to be embarrassed to read YA fiction. 

Week 9: 

“Consensus Is Building: It's Okay to Read YA. - The Hub.” The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, 18 Sept. 2015, www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2012/04/24/consensus-is-building-its-okay-to-read-ya/.

This article is perhaps a bit biased due to the fact that it too targets young adults, however, the arguments made are nonetheless still valid. One of the things it addresses is a bookstore that places a sign next to its YA section telling adults it is okay to purchase them for themselves too, and not just for their children. It argues in several ways that due to what has been dubbed "The Harry Potter effect," that is, the effect caused by the revolutionary series of the same name in the world of literature. Slowly, but surely, people are beginning to turn towards YA fiction as well, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus, it is okay to read YA novels because it is slowly becoming normal to see an adult with one. 

Week 10:

O'Leary, Daniel. Creating A Love Of Reading. publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2007/hrsdc-rhdsc/RH99-2-2000E.pdf.

This government document by Daniel O'Leary emphasizes the importance of reading, and what it can do for the country. He states that you should never stop reading with your child, as even young adults enjoy being read to. (Thus, reading YA fiction is very much okay, because adults should read to their children.) The article goes on about reading being something universal, that knows no boundaries, and that should be embraced by all ages.

Week 11: 

Kolderup, Gretchin, “Are You Reading YA Lit? You Should Be.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2011/are-you-reading-ya-lit-you-should-be/.

This article is written by a librarian who works with teens and children. However, they have stated that should they switch careers, they would still continue to read YA novels. Why? Because, she states, "it's fresh and exciting and are interesting new things to find." She also argues that you, as an adult will not be the only one reading it, so there is no need to feel ashamed. It is getting bigger and bigger, and getting better and better, and theres no harm in joining the movement. What she thinks is the most exciting part is that the kids reading it today are tomorrow's authors, and it is nourishing their creativity, which will only prompt the genre to grow and improve with every generation that passes.

Episode Pitch

           This episode of A Matter of Opinion will focus on ageism, more specifically ageism in relation to literature. Articles such as Ruth Graham’s, who quotes that “Adults should be embarrassed to read YA fiction” and to the Daily Review’s article which claims “Adults reading YA fiction: Grow up.”

These articles affect nearly everybody who finds reading enjoyable, seeing as everybody grows up and that everybody will at some point reach the “age limit.” These articles don’t say you can’t read whatever you want, but they do say that it is frowned upon because YA fiction cannot tackle such heavy and complex topics that adult fiction does. They always end happily, and always follow a cheesy, repetitive plotline. However, many believe that it should not matter, because YA provides a nostalgic escape from heavy topics that adult fiction tackles.

The argument in the episode will be against these articles, however it will also offer some support in favour of what they say. The episode features some articles that argue against it and will also feature a brief interview with award-winning author of The Break, Katherena Vernette.

The argument of the episode will be that you should be able to read whatever you want, and that there is no reason to be embarrassed about what you read, because reading, (especially in the digital age) is slowly becoming a lost form of entertainment. There is also no reason why YA should not be able to make its readers think critically. For example, in The Hobbit, the premise is to travel across the land and reclaim the kingdom of the dwarves, and by the end, the king of said kingdom passes away, leaving all the effort for nothing. This is sometimes a real-life concept, and is still able to provide the outlook on life (I.e. that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you do not succeed). As such, this is proof that YA novels can still offer deep, insightful lesson about life just the same as Adult fiction can. There is also the fact that any literature is still literature, and is constructive to your reading ability in any case, no matter the age range. There is also the fact that although authors may want an age range, they do not confine the age range to just that. They also want everyone else to enjoy it as well, not just that specific target audience.

On the other hand, the target demographic may be for children, and so someone may smirk or laugh upon seeing you reading The Fault in Our Stars in public should you have it with you. So perhaps embarrassment is a natural emotion because being caught with one of these may indicate you have a below-average reading ability or perhaps that you are far too naïve.

This is important because it points to ageism as a whole. Adults are frowned upon for liking Star Wars on occasion, for example. Ageism is an extremely patronizing concept. Remember how you felt as a kid when your relatives would tell you, “you can’t sit at the adults table, you’re too young.” Though there may have been good reason, it still felt like you were being talked down to. Everyone wants to be treated as equals, not as older or younger.

The episode will also briefly explore the concept of ageism in a broader sense.