Hey, warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post will be pretty casual since I’d like to just have a sort of conversation with you, and first up on the agenda is an explanation as to why I just called you warriors and why I’m going to keep it up. Ready? *makes a cup of coffee* Let’s dive in!
You’ve probably heard people say that the pen is mightier than the sword before, right? And you may have also heard of books changing lives, especially one book called the Bible (I’m a Christian and proud of it, changed by the Bible not because of words but because of the Spirit in the Word of God. Read John 1:1 if you don’t understand. But this post isn’t about what I believe in this regard.). If you think about it, a pen has begun wars and a pen has ended wars. A pen has started revolutionary movements and saved lives. If someone holds this power, I think they’re a warrior, don’t you? So I’ll be calling you warriors from now on. *sips coffee and nods*
So how are you guys? How are your writing projects going? What books are you reading? Any questions lately? I want to hear all about what’s on your minds, if you’re willing to be the warrior you are and tell us. I also want you to know that this place is a safe place. I will personally delete anything meant to hurt because this place is for a family, a group of friends, and a team of writers and readers supporting and teaching each other. Please get to know each other more in the comments! I challenge you to reply to one person you’ve never talked to before. Your words could change both of your lives, even in a small way. So maybe answer my questions. Maybe introduce yourself and say hi to everyone. I’ll be responding to as many comments as possible.
Why I read more kids’ books than YA books
What’s that your asking? *sips coffee and looks at you innocently* Oh, you clicked this post to find out why I read kids books and choose to miss out on all the excitement of stuff for my age? Not to be asked a bunch of questions and told you’re part of some family you didn’t really ask to join? *swallows coffee calmly* *sets coffee down* I should probably explain that. Since I’m a storyteller, I’ll start with a little story.
Every Wednesday I visit the library with my family. Normally I’m not thrilled to be there simply because I’m being tutored on how to take the ACT test best, but even still I always have time to look at books (although I admit that occasionally this time has been used for texting). One fateful day I decided that instead of sitting around waiting to test I’d look at the books. As I entered the children’s section, I overheard two boys talking (far too loudly for a library) about some Pokémon books. I ignored them at first since boys will be boys, but then the older boy made a comment about children’s books being babyish (except Pokémon, he meant) and he was going to look in the teen section because, he would have the other boy know, he was thirteen. Now I could tell the younger boy wasn’t extremely happy with this comment and I was one row over so I calmly peeked around the corner to tell them that I was older than them both and I was in the children’s section. The older boy was embarrassed that I heard him and somewhat insulted when I gently alerted him of how loud he was. But we both returned to perusing the shelves. A few minutes later I happened to glance up and spot him in the teens’ section. For some reason, I felt the urge to talk to this stranger again and tell him that he should look in the kids’ section, and I did so, offering my reasons. Soon after he was, to my slight discomfort but satisfaction, following me through the shelves of “babyish” books. Do you know what books he really wanted in the end? Take a guess.
He wanted Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Hank the Cow Dog.
I laughed to myself softly and sadly when I saw that. Do you know why?
Books are often labeled “kids’” or “teens’” not only by the age of the characters but also by the content. This means that it apparently appeals to teens to read books filled with unnecessary language and actions that parents don’t encourage but their reading material discusses. This means many adult authors writing books for teenagers feel the urge to include the darker side of humanity in their work simply because they believe that’s what teens want to read and hear. They insert passionate romance and cussing into all genres and wave their beliefs like a banner. In some ways, this exposes their hearts, but, in many ways, it is cunningness or ignorance that children’s authors often don’t use in writing.
Not all teens want to act like they’re married to someone they hardly know. Not all teens curse like a walking dictionary of explicit language. Not all teens believe or want to be persuaded into believing in political views, religious ideas, or other concepts. Maybe some teens just want a story; maybe some teens just want to read about someone who is like them and makes it through whatever they’re going through. Some YA authors acknowledge this, but not enough do. I walk into my library’s teen section and am immediately disgusted by covers of romance books and titles that leave me in the dark as to whether or not I can trust the book. I’m afraid to open these books because I don’t ever know what I might find. These are the products of fools and masters both: the fools write this way because they only know their own heart, not teens, and the masters write this way because they know teens are most likely to learn a new way or new belief because their minds are still developing and trying to separate from their parents as they get older. If you’re careful about your companions, then you should be wary of these books because a book well-written becomes a companion.
Now I also read children’s fiction because it is simple and to the point. These books are about kids learning how strong they can be, what complex feelings are, and how to come together to make the world better. These books can be masterfully written and have you on the edge of your seat with a simple theme almost everyone can agree on. If we’re all so set on being politically correct, why aren’t we more aware of the way words often divide when they could bring people together? These books also contain imagination that teens scoff at and adults laugh at because it can’t be believed. These books are the treasures of childhood that have been preserved in some authors’ minds formed into words that make us gasp and laugh and smile with pleasure. These books bring us back to simpler times.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some “kids’” books would be classified as these teen books if someone took the time to read them before calling them kids’ books. I’ve started one that was ridiculously political in chapter one and I’ve read a kids’ book with bad language and some references that I very much didn’t care for. And some teens’ books are amazing. Dust, Shadow, and The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson are some of my favorite books, as well as Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Ignite by Jenna Terese is beautiful and The Lunar Chronicles were overall excellent stories. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch had me up way past my bedtime. But even several of these books contain unnecessary romance and references. I’m starting to think that a book without a kiss (or a million kisses) is hardly a YA book. It shouldn’t be this way.
In my writing, I’m taking a stand. I don’t want to use bad language when it doesn’t add to the story (which it normally doesn’t, in my opinion). I don’t want to discuss only the romantic troubles teens suffer. I don’t want books about bullying to only be in the middle-grade category. I want stories that teens can relate to that encourage us to go down the right paths because a book is food for the mind and we teens are mostly offered junk. I want to change that.
What about you? What are your thoughts on kids’ books vs. teens’ books? Do you accept the huge amount of explicit content in YA or are you against it? What is your favorite YA book without much or no explicit content? Let me know in the comments!