Racy Reads For Middle Schoolers: Two Questions
Here's one high school teacher's perspective on teen reads and middle-schoolers. Interestingly, Christopher Paslay doesn't advocate censorship on the receiving end of stories but responsibility on the publishing end:
..From my experience, most 16-year-old students wouldn't be caught dead reading anything within the "teen" genre. High school kids are too cool, too grown-up for teen books. Upperclassmen are getting ready to head to college or go off to work, and they have little tolerance for the fairy-tale crushes and catty gossip found in most contemporary young-adult books.Here are the questions this article raised for me:
It is the middle school students, ages 11 to 13, who are reading the teen genre. They're the ones picking up books like Beautiful Disaster or Gossip Girl in order to see what it's really like to be a teenager in high school. Of course, what they read isn't real at all. It's a lot of superficial nonsense, a make-believe world filled with steamy sex, vodka bongs, and pool parties. It's a fantasy land where 15-year-old girls get breast implants and drink martinis on South Beach...
Publishers of contemporary teen books should stop peddling soft porn to minors, and go back to promoting storylines with substance and moral character.
- Somehow I don't think middle school girls are primarily reading these books "to see what it's really like to be a teenager in high school." So why are they reading them, then? Is it the "everybody's doing it" buzz effect? Do these reads offer the same vicarious thrill adults feel when we consider the lifestyles of the rich, spoiled, and famous in People? Is teen chick-lit a way for girls to escape the stress and/or doldrums of middle school life?
- Steamy books are lucrative. Do any publishers of books for young adults have mission statements that would prevent them from producing a line of books like Gossip Girls? Like Dutton's, for example, although there's isn't official. Are any houses or imprints clear about their desire to avoid publishing the type of book this teacher describes?