In an ever-changing and increasingly chaotic world, many may ask, “What can YA do to help students?” Beyond the obvious attribute of reading widely and increasing stamina, which is itself is no feat to scoff at (Morgan and Fuchs, 2007), YA has the ability to offer so much more. This week, we look at what YA authors themselves have to say about what YA can provide.
A Voice and Inspiration
According to Jason Reynolds, author of the National Book Award nominee, Ghost and co-author of the Coretta Scott King Award winner, All American Boys, YA provides readers with articulation. Reynolds shares his thoughts on YA and its influence on young people to ACT:
“I think that young people specifically at times like this do want to act, but there’s also a blockade there. There’s a wall there, for lack of better words. And that wall usually has a lot to do with language.… What books can do is serve as the map. It’s the instruction manual not on how to do a thing, but how to identify the parts of you that you had a hard time articulating verbally and physically.”
Reynolds’ All American Boys co-author, Brendan Kiely builds on Reynolds’ argument by commenting on the inspiration that teens often have to act, which inspires him to “to honor that spirit” as he continues to write YA.
Maureen Johnson, Shades of London series author, states that now, more than ever, YA provides readers with hope. The genre of YA itself is one of hope, redemption, and persistence. Johnson loves the genre and its readers because, “YA readers give me a lot of hope because they tend to read widely. They are aware of the importance of diversity.”
David Levithan, author of Boy Meets Boy remarks on the empathy that the YA genre builds within its readers and how YA unifies readers when outside forces seem to be adamant to divide.
“And what’s great about YA is that its heart beats with empathy and its blood runs with empathy. It’s about teaching teens not to see themselves as an “other” and also not to see the people around them as “others” — if society tries to divide us, then YA literature tries to draw us closer”
Nicola Yoon, author of National Book Award nominee, The Sun is Also a Star, shared Levithan’s sentiments by stating, “I think books breed empathy. It’s hard to hate when you understand and have a window into their world.” It’s no question that these YA authors feel that the YA books themselves serve as that window.
Solace and Beauty
Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces comments that YA is important because, “Because books provide solace, books become a lighthouse in a storm, for anyone of any age.” David Arnold, author of Kids of Appetite, suggests that not only can YA provide solace, but also beauty. “And I just want to tell these kids, “Hey. You're perfect just as you are. And sometimes the world is an ugly place. But it can also a beautiful.” I guess that's why I write. To try and show some of that beauty, and to try and make them feel a little closer to being OK with who they are.”
Obviously YA provides so much more than just words on the page. What does YA provide for you? We’d love to hear what YA provides for you on our Facebook page or Twitter feed. Share your favorite YA book and use the hashtags #CCYAL and #YAprovides
Morgan, P. and Fuchs, D. (2007). Is there a bidirectional relationship between children’s reading skills and reading motivation? Exceptional Children, 73(2), 165-183.
Stampler, L. (2016). 13 YA authors on writing in the age of Trump. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-ya-trump-20161209-story.html