The money quote for me was this: "If someone says, “I don’t read YA,” I have the same reaction as if they said “I don’t read science fiction” or “I don’t read fiction” or “I don’t read.” It’s their prerogative, of course, but it pains me to know what they’re missing."
Missing indeed. Think of what you would miss if you had ot been reading YA books for some time. I cannot imagine the hole in my reading that would exist were it not for THE CHOCOLATE WAR by Robert Cormier (and if you have not read this one, fix that now) or STOTAN by Chris Crutcher or INEXCUSABLE by Chris Lynch or GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray or THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie or MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers or LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green or any one of hundreds of other titles I could list here. Not only would there be craters in my reading life, there would be crevasses in me as a person as well as a reader. To not know the courage of Jerry Renault or Junior or Cameron or Steve, courage tempered by their youth and inexperience and other ramifications, would mean I could not see how teens think, reason, make decisions. Not that these characters are EVERYMAN and their experiences are not those of every teen. But these characters all reflect a central TRUTH, one that I think we can all profit by seeing within the pages of YA stories.
And I want to go one step beyond here, as well. Let's not forget nonfiction (as if CCSS would permit that). I have learned much by reading nonfiction. BOMB, HITLER YOUTH, JANIS JOPLIN: RISE UP SINGING, CAN I SEE YOUR ID?, MOONBIRD, CLAUDETTE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE, or any one of hundreds of other titles. I have learned about people whose role in history does not always make it to the textbooks. I have discovered periods of history that receive short shrift in those same books. The depth of knowledge is incredible.
And one more thing I would miss about YA: the professional books that inform me and my practices. FROM ROMANCE TO REALISM by Michael Cart (perhaps the basic text all wanting to know the history of YA should read) to the most recent BOOK LOVE by Penny Kittle show not only the importance of YA but its lasting value in supporting and creating readers.
I would be a much poorer person were it not for YA literature in all of its forms and formats and genres and mutations. It is rare for me to read adult works, and yet I do not feel as though I am missing much. The books for children and YA readers provide me what I need to continue to grow and develop as a reader. Thanks, STACKED, for putting these guest posts up about why read YA?