Sunday, June 05, 2011

Light In Darkness

After reading this Wall Street Journal article, Darkness Too Visible, which I found through author Maureen Johnson's Twitter page, I felt something in it didn't seem right. And no, it wasn't because of Maureen Johnson's own tweet against it. Whether the author of the piece, Meghan Cox Gurdon, intended it or not, it felt like the she was saying that young adult literature should not deal with themes that are too dark, grim, or grisly, and she uses examples of parents' futile attempts at searching for books that deal with lighter themes for their kids. It also seems that she goes on to say that people who speak against what she has said as being quick to play the "censorship card". Well, read the article, and judge for yourselves, but that's the way it came to me.

Frankly, I think it's better for kids to see that people, that the world, can be both a beautiful and an ugly place, and that it's often a mix of both. Literature that truthfully deals with this can help young readers understand this aspect of life. Dealing with dark issues is an important step in growing up, and it is better to acknowledge it than deny its existence and replace it with happiness and joy that is forced and artificial. The best way to fight darkness is not to hide it, but to bring it out into the light. The happiness one finds after knowing darkness becomes deeper, perhaps more mature. It gives one, hopefully, a dash of wisdom and appreciation for any joy that is experienced.

In any case, search "YAsaves" on Twitter to read for yourselves some of the reactions to the article. People are sharing why they like YA, even if they deal with dark issues.

And here's a tweet from author Greg van Eekhout that I like very much:

"Fiction encourages empathy by sharing human experience, including painful experience. It's not supposed to be moral instruction."

I don't know. Maybe the Wall Street Journal is changing their approach to what they publish in an attempt to get more readership. Maybe they're trying to stir controversy by publishing articles that will get a rise out of people. After all, they published that article about "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" a short while back. Now this. I wonder what's next?


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