Did you know that YA lit is bilge?
Thanks to YALSA-BK, I read the following column in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Parents, Beware: Some Books are Full of Bilge.
First off, "bilge"? Who's been reading Patrick O'Brien novels, I ask you?
This is my response to the author:
As a librarian who has worked with children and teens
for over five years, I am very disturbed by your
recent article, entitled "Parents, beware: Some books
are full of bilge", which I read in the online edition
of the Philadelphia Inquirer. By only presenting one
side of an argument, you are doing a great disservice
to both the books you mention, as well as the great
literature that exists for tween audiences.
Instead of saying that parents should review their
children's book choices in order to share the
experience of discovering new worlds and great
stories, you promote a message of fear and distrust.
By characterizing books such as Peaches as "bilge",
you overlook the fact that this book is not suitable
to your child's maturity level, so it is little wonder
that you found it unacceptable for your daughter.
Peaches has been reviewed as appropriate for grades 8
and up. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has
been recommended for grades 6 and up. Although your
daughter, and other 10 year olds, might be capable of
reading this book, that does not mean that they should
be reading it.
I am very aware that parents have the right to monitor
what their children read. In fact, I encourage
parents to be aware of what their child is checking
out of the library. I have often recommended to
parents that they should take a look at their
preteen's choices, to the point where I have said,
"This book might be too mature for your child. Why
don't I suggest some different books?"
While I applaud you for suggesting alternatives, Dairy
Queen might not be the best choice, either, as it has
also been recommended for ages 12 and up. A better
option might be a book like The Penderwicks by Jeanne
Birdsall. For advanced readers in grades 4 and 5,
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale would be an excellent
In the future, I would suggest that you skip the
bookstore and come to the library, where there are
trained professionals who can help you and your
daughter select books that are both challenging and
I did get an email from the author within an hour of sending mine, which was nice, and it says all the right things about listening to librarians and such. But I can't help feeling that it's just lip service, because if she really felt that way . . . wouldn't she have written an article that reflected that?
[cross-posted at oracle]
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