After listening to the MPRnews interview with “Sex and Violence” author Carrie Mesrobian on the issue of adult content in young adult literature, we discussed it in our Adolescent Literature class and brought up some blog-worthy topics.
A concern that came up in Carrie’s interview is whether adult themes such as sex and violence in YA literature would seem more plausible or glamorous to teens because it is in a fictitious depiction. And a conclusion that most of us came to is that fiction novels written for a young adult audience is a safe and easy way to introduce some of these real-life issues to teens and to open up any questions or discussion they might have. It’s a sort of “what not to do” help book rather than an adult just saying “Don’t do drugs; they’re bad for you.”
Some parents that called into the interview with questions or comments for Carrie mentioned their concern for their fourth-grader reading at a mature level and being introduced to this kind of content too early. This is where Middle-Grade novels come into play. Somehow we forget that there isn’t only the choice of children’s literature or young adult literature, and that there is a middle ground between them. We are talking about good quality literature for a child’s development AND reading level! Newbery Medal Winners are a great place to find books of this kind.
Another aspect of this debate that we brought up is something that Carrie mentioned as well… if kids are in the point of their lives where sex and violence is something they want to take part in, chances are they aren’t reading about it, they’re out doing it! And if a child isn’t developmentally ready for a book with this gritty content, they will put it down.
Listen to the interview yourself. What’s your opinion?