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10 September 2017 @ 09:01 am
Really?  
A recent article in the New Yourk Post has caused some buzz among the YA literature community. Here is the link to the relatively short piece that is critical of the movement to ensure YA lit is more inclusive and diverse: http://nypost.com/2017/09/05/pc-wars-rule-young-adult-publishing-as-fewer-kids-learn-to-love-to-read/. It is simple to see the bias here. Just take in the title of the article: PC Wars Rule Young Adult Publishing as Fewer Kids Learn to Love to Read. There is an oblique reference to the fact that high school kids by and large do not read for pleasure: "In 2015, one in three high-school seniors admitted not having read a single book for pleasure in the past year, three times as many as 30 years before." I would love to have the citation for this survey. I do know Stacy Creel conducted a meta analysis of the effect of assigned reading on reading for pleasure: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2015/02/the-impact-of-assigned-reading-on-reading-pleasure-in-young-adults/. I highly recommend this article as it is a bit more scholarly and rooted in actual research.


But let's push the reference to a study never cited fully. The author of the NY Post article seems to question the need for diversity in books we share with our students. Instead of engaging in a more detailed examination of diversity and all of the scholarship surrounding it, the author goes for the low blows. The final paragraph of the article: "The idea that adolescents need to be “protected” from authors who don’t exactly mirror their own identity-group experience is a recipe for creating snowflake college students who’ll never want to touch a book that hasn’t been pre-approved by a committee. At this rate, the publishing world will purge itself out of existence."

The opposite is, fortunately, true. More and more readers are encountering diversity in books. Not only is this important for readers who have never seen themselves in a book or, worse, seen stereotypes of themselves in books, diversity ensures ALL readers see the diversity of the world in which they live. The use of the derogatory "snowflake" terminology seems to suggest that if we make readers more aware of the diversity and the stereotypes, we are somehow protecting them from reality when instead we are showing them the TRUTH. When someone suggests that diversity is somehow harmful, I wonder how often they have seen themselves in books, movies, and on TV.

Before DEAR MR. HENSHAW, I had never encountered a child of divorce in books. I was 32 when I read a book that finally reflected some of my childhood experience. My childish thoughts and feelings were finally "verified" through Leigh and his thoughts and feelings. To suggest that reading books about myself and my experiences makes me a snowflake is more than insulting. And to suggest that the diverse books are best written by someone within the culture/community is short-sighted. It is imperative for me to be sure I share diverse books as widely as possible. Not to create snowflakes but to create citizens of the real world.
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