Soon I will be part of an exciting panel at the Emerging Writer’s Festival talking darker subjects in Young Adult literature. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’ve been lucky to have incredible support but there has been some troubling issues too.
I’m not one to try and upset people and won’t name anyone but this is important, so here goes.
I always knew Stone Girl would be tough for some but the reality is that 40k kids live without parents and this story is no surprise to affected young people or the organisations who support them.
Teen readers should be respected to choose their reading material. Many consume adult books anyway. Many prefer non-confrontational books or to read sci-fi or rom-com and they can choose that. There are great books in each genre.
My issue is that literature should connect and include, not divide and segregate into categories of acceptable and unacceptable teen experiences. Adults should not be actively blocking or discriminating against realistic tougher teen stories.
There are gatekeepers who feel concern about what teens can read. Sometimes this is misplaced. Swearing and realistic and/or impoverished characters are difficult for some adults to accept. This is despite the fact so many teens live these lives.
It’s baffling to me when adults act as if teenagers are children. They are transitioning and will soon have the choices and responsibilities of an adult. Literature is a brilliant way to communicate and shed light.
Impoverished homeless teens are living these kind of lives all over the world. Maybe if we do more to include their stories and allow their difficulties to be understood by other kids then we’ll have more empathetic adults. My thorn. That’s all.