Dear Ruth Graham, Don’t Shame Me For Reading YA Books
I read Young Adult books. According to a recent article by Ruth Graham on Slate.com, I should be ashamed of my YA reading habit. It is certainly nothing I should be announcing in any sort of public forum. According to my age demographic I should be reading books by Janet Evanovich, and finding new uses for Mason jars. Any sense of enjoyment I receive from reading books geared for a thirteen year-old should have long gone away. I am a societal abomination.
After being angry about this shaming, I realized Ruth Graham doesn’t know what she is talking about. I bet she thinks she is too old to eat Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries for breakfast (I know it’s unhealthy. It’s still delicious). I bet she worries about the age limit on her clothing. Did you know you can be too old to wear tye-dye? Yeah, I don’t care either.
Back to the book-bullying, it’s narrow-minded. Reading a book written for a different age demographic can help you see other aspects of the story. A teen reading Looking for Alaska wouldn’t see the foreshadowing, and would be taken by surprise at the climax of the story. As an adult, I can see it coming, and it is almost more heartbreaking. The characters are unaware of what is all around them. The story has new meaning for me at this point in my life. Possibly in ten years it will have another meaning.
Graham specifically hates on Twilight and Divergent readers, calling the books “transparently trashy,” and books that “no one sees as serious literature.” Divergent is a study of people and what happens when a society tries to build a utopia. The heroine grows and learns from the choices made. Twilight is a modern fairy tale and love story. The love triangle is different (two monsters and a human) allowing us to see that love can allow us to overcome our monstrous desires. Yet Graham is unable to see this sort of character development. She is blinded by her own prejudices.
Literature exists to allow us to see aspects of ourselves and our society; it entertains, and it educates. We should be encouraging others to read, and discuss what they read. Literature is a common denominator. Any Harry Potter fan will tear up at the words, “page 637“. Fans of the Hunger Games series have a similar reaction to seeing a single rose. Maybe soon people will start pinning small plastic toys to their clothing. Wouldn’t that set Ruth Graham on edge? I’ll be first in line with safety pins.
Want to read Young Adult Lit and don’t know where to start? Have a YA book you wish everyone would read? Let us know in the comments.