So… who appointed Ruth Graham of Slate Magazine to the book police patrol? In a recent piece Titled Against YA (6/5/14) Graham lays out an argument that adults can,
“Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”
Why? The best books tell good stories, and good stories are what we share as humans. Good stories are found in picture books; good stories are found in children’s chapter books. Good stories are found in folk tales, fairy tales, and fables. Good stories are not exclusive to one age group or another. Why the need to separate required serious or not serious book choice by a reader’s birthdate?
The problem Graham is fabricating is that readers will become “stunted” on steady diets of YA (young adult) literature. Her snobbish references to Alice Munro (who I love) and John Updike (who I do not love) as those ” authors whose work has only become richer to me as I have grown older” is self-aggrandizing. There are plenty of “serious” award-winning authors who make me “roll my eyes,” but I would not withhold a text from someone who wants to read it. A good story is ageless, a good story is timeless.
So, Ruth Graham, I say readers should be able to read anything. Readers will learn, like you said, what “authors have to say about love, relationships, sex, trauma, happiness, and all the rest—you know, life—from the reading they choose to do,” regardless as to whether the book bears the stigma of YA, or maybe, because that book does.
Also published on: I Can Write a 100 Words blog