Monday, June 13, 2011

Controversial Literature

I love it when the subject of what is and isn't appropriate in books comes up. There was an article recently published online at the Wall Street Journal that talked about how graphic young adult literature has become, and how parents can't find anything "light" for their teenagers to read (well, one parent in particular, but I feel like the inference was meant to be widespread).

This article did two things for me. First, it gave me several more books to add to my "must-read" list. Second, it affirmed that if I ever have/adopt/find/steal a child, I'm going to encourage him or her to read every single banned or controversial book known to man. I won't push it on the kid, but I will say, "See this book? People think it's too graphic...I bet it's you want to read it together?!"

Before I get on my soapbox, I will tell you (if by some chance you didn't already know) that I don't have kids. Which for some people would make my argument completely invalid. But for me, it's not a matter of what I would or would not do for my kids, it's the point behind anything that tries to shield the younger generation from certain harsh realities of the world.

Kids, teenagers, young adults...they're all stronger than we give them credit for and they deal with a lot of things that parents and older adults tend to turn a blind eye from. They know or are people who cut themselves. They know or are people who've been raped or molested. Many of them are having conversations with their peers and reading things in magazines that would likely make mom or dad's head explode. I don't have kids, but I remember being one. Luckily, my mom encouraged me to read Stephen King and R rated films weren't taboo in our household.

As for people who worry that these books are going to cause kids/teens/adults to act out or be inspired to do harmful or illegal things, let's face it...they're going to do it if they want to do it. Reading about it can often give them insight they might not have had or help them to realize they're not alone when dealing with things like depression. Like the crazies who mimic violence in movie or video games, anyone who's going to imitate something dangerous from something they've read has a loose cog somewhere that was there long before the book was published.

I take a "no holds barred" stance in writing and reading and I hate censorship, but I understand that not everyone shares my views. So while I'll respect an individual's right to (try to) restrict what their children read, I'll also be the first to say on that on the larger scale, this literature needs to be written and not taken away from the many readers who will gain something from it.

Besides, making something taboo is just going to make people want to read it more, so maybe in this case, WSJ has the right idea.

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