professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Sanitized for your protection

Because antibiotics have been overprescribed (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720) and because anti-bacterial soaps and scrubs have been overused (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117985), we are developing new germs, herms that are resistant to the usual drug therapies. Why as I writing about this on the blog you might well ask. Bear with me as I think it is an apt metaphor for censorship and also for abridgment (or abridgment). There was an article recently in the New York Times about how bestselling adult authors are abridging and sanitizing their books for the youth market (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/08/business/media/laura-hillenbrand-jon-meacham-adapt-titles-for-children.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1). Entitled To Lure Young Readers, Nonfiction Writers Sanitize and Simplify, the article points to mainstream adult authors who are cashing in on the nonfiction emphasis as well as he lucrative market among younger readers.

Maybe I am too sensitive, but sentences like this seem to almost sneer: "Inspired by the booming market for young adult novels, a growing number of biographers and historians are retrofitting their works to make them palatable for younger readers." We have to make books palatable? they have to be slimmed down and sanitized? We cannot allow books for younger readers to reveal the cold, hard truth about Jefferson and slavery? If there is a perceived need to protect kids from content, I want to ask two questions:

1. Is perhaps this not the best book to abridge and sanitize?
2. Are we underestimating kids?

Perhaps there is a third question:

3. Has anyone checked to see if this topic has been written about already? have these authors read ANYthing for the new audience they are targeting?

A discussion of this article is now taking place on Facebook, on the YALSA listserv, and has been proposed as a topic for another list dedicated to books for younger readers. It is a complex subject. I am enjoying the discussion because, unlike politicians, educators know how to discuss topics with respect and consideration.
Tags: abridgment, books, censorship, markets, sanitizing
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