Instead, let me lay out here what else YA does that saves lives.
IT ALLOWS READERS A SAFE HAVEN IN WHICH TO TEST THEMSELVES. Whether it is Harry Potter or Melinda or The Mockinjay herself, readers can ask themselves what they would do when faced with evil, with pain, with circumstances out of control? What can they DO to speak out? What might they do to confront those who are lying? I have watched my own resident of the back bedroom read Harry Potter and other books over and over again. She read Tangerine by Bloor and was angered about the elevation of the athlete to some sort of saint-like status.
IT GIVES KIDS A CHANCE TO SEE THEY ARE NOT ALONE. Books can show readers that they a not the only ones being bullied, they are not the only ones being abused, they are not the only ones living I poverty. Unlike the books available for me as a teen, contemporary YA does not present a sterile world in which everyone is happily living with two parents, in a nice home, attending a great school with caring teachers. Rather it presents some of the harsh realities which our kids face. No Pollyanna here. Instead,it tells the truth. Sometimes you win, sometimes the bully prevails. Life is not fair. this is not only comforting and consoling, it can help develop empathy. I will take empathetic teens any day.
IT DEVELOPS READERS. If I can connect kids to books as tweens and teens, I have a good shot at developing lifelong readers. Given the percentage of adults who do not read (and the author of the WSJ piece cannot be widely read and be so unaware of its wealth unless, of course, she has an agenda), I hope for more from my students, even my graduate students.
IT DEMONSTRATES THAT, JUST BECAUSE THE BOOK IS WRITTEN FOR TEENS, THAT IT CAN INDEED BE A LITERARY EXPERIENCE. The are those who would dismiss YA as not as literary as adult work (and look at the ruckus raised earlier thus week by Naipul suggesting women could not write as well as men!). you want literary? Try reading the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye. Try the gothic horror of The Monstumologist. Tackle Cormier's The Bumblebee Flies Anyway. Read Patrick Ness' trilogy, Chaos Walking. Then come back and try to denigrate YA.
For now, I thinkI will pick up my #booaday and fall into another YA BOOK. If only those who write about YA would do the same...
ETA: Thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed out I had not spell checked this piece. Whoever you are, I appreciate the eagle eye. Sometimes I get carried away with a post and forget about the checking. Since this is a blog and not the WSJ, I hope I can be forgiven an error or two...