Monday, June 6, 2011

Let There Be Light, and #YAsaves

There has been a big hullabaloo going on in Twitter World these past few days. And in the newspapers. And on Facebook. And on the blogs.

It’s called #YAsaves.

I really hadn’t planned on putting my two cents worth in. I want to keep this short because I’ve got painting and cleaning and stuff to do.  I was just minding my own business on my morning off, catching up on the news from the weekend, sitting in my pj’s and waiting for muffins to come out of the oven. But as I was reading, this little #YAsaves thingie kept popping up. So I just kept on reading. And getting agitated.

You probably know where this is going, but there are plenty of people that don’t “live in the book world” and read articles like us Kidlitters do. It essentially started with this Wall Street Journal article, which stated that YA books are too dark, it gives teens bad ideas, etc, etc. The author of the article claims that real world isn’t dark like that.

And you can imagine lot’s of people had plenty to say. And it went like this:
The real world isn’t dark. Mmmmkayyyy.

This is the part that irks me most, because I see Darkness each and every day. I’m a waitress in a small town family-run restaurant. I have been working alongside teens since I was a teen. I’m only 29, and since then I have endured/witnessed/been-told-about the following REAL WORLD darkness, concerning REAL WORLD people I know, whom I have kept their secrets and will not reveal their true identities:
  • Being picked on due to race.
  • Sexual assault/abuse.
  • Broken families/divorce, abusive parents; including parents abandoning their teen children, parents who choose to drink rather than get their children food, and guardians who often physically abuse their children.
  • Abusive teen relationships, both physically and emotionally.
  • Teen pregnancy.
  • Eating disorders/warped self-image.
  • Teen lashing out with hate crimes as an outlet.
  • Children who have these problems who cope by reading. (Oh, what was that last one there? Yes, I’ve seen it. In many shapes and forms. Kids and teens bring their books with them to dinner. And you can tell which ones just like to read, and which ones are just dying to escape from the cupboard under the stairs. You can see it in their eyes.)

Keep in mind I can actually picture these people’s faces. They are in my memory, on my mind, and ache in my heart. They are REAL people.

That being said, books aren’t the bad stuff, it’s our society and world that has become tainted. This is a topic that has comes up in nearly every conversation I have these days. “What is the world coming to?” It has become such a dark place. People get hurt, because their aggressor’s had been hurt and had no outlet, so they lash out. They bully. They hate.

Those who cannot find relief from their pain or confusion will end up lashing out. They will create more pain because they cannot find a way out. If we are lucky, they will somehow find a bit of Light from their Darkness… there are plenty of “lucky” people out there who could have easily chosen the wrong path due to their dark past, but somehow managed on their own to break free. I know some of them.

Maybe that Light happened to be a book. It could have been a picture book about divorce, read over and over until even now, as a 29 year old. It could have been a YA book about cutting, or vampires, or just a wizard with a lightning scar. It could have been a Bible.

I often “joke,” with my bar customers as we watch the news, (but I’m actually being serious) that the Badguy probably wasn’t read to as a child.

He probably wasn’t read to as a child, because reading is communication. Being read to is communication. Talking about books and hypothetical situations is communication. Telling someone that you have been hurt and you need help and you don’t know how to cope is communication. Listening is communication. Loving is communication. Hurting is bad communication.

Lack of communication between couples = divorce. Lack of communicating rules, peace, love, pride of, and respect to your children = children lashing out for attention, bullies, hate. Lack of communicating your pain, and receiving some sort of connection or way to cope = just another Law & Order episode.

Let the kids read. Let them learn. Let them cope. Let them figure out for themselves what is good or bad, instead of basing it on the only thing they know: their own dark worlds.

ps. more links, and I'll keep adding as I find them:
this-wsj-thing, and being a normal kid reading these books
stuck-between-rage-and-compassion, and talking with your kids about what they read
How I Learned to Embrace the Darkness
my-take-on-wall-street-journal-article, with some facts on the bad stuff
Not All YA is Doom and Gloom

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