The everyday life of an everyday woman with a passion for writing, and a dream… Mommeeeee! I need help wiping! Oh yes, and five little kids.

Monday, June 4, 2012

YA Fiction: What Are Your Kids Reading?

     The Young Adult surge.  At least that is what I’m calling it.  We’ve seen the YA genre climb to extreme popularity over the last few years.  In fact, I’ve read more YA books as an adult than I ever did as a, well, young adult. 

     I’ve always been more of a Historical Fiction girl myself, but a few years ago I began picking up the YA novels and fingering them more than the Adult Fiction.  Why you ask?  It’s simple, I was tired of buying a book only throw it away or return it to the library unfinished.  The explicit sexual content, language, and lewdness had me throwing my hands up in defeat. 

     I figured the books written for our lovely young folks would have to be cleaner right?  For awhile I seemed to have a bit of success, but alas, I once again found myself beginning to be disappointed.  I discovered myself labeling my disappointment in the content for a book branded YA repeatedly in my reviews.

     Now before I have angry readers bellowing that I’m judging too harshly or ignorantly spewing my misinformed opinions let me say this: 

1.      I am NOT saying ALL Young Adult fiction is brimming with inappropriate content ready to pervert your children. (I’ll delve into this later on)

2.      I wanted to be sure I wasn’t basing my opinions on reading just ‘a few bad eggs’ so, since I started keeping track in 2008, I have read 189 Young Adult novels, 40 of which are from 2012 alone.

     Yes, I like reading.

     So, as I’ve been reading these books the past few years, I’m always surprised how often extreme language (by extreme I mean repeated use of the ‘F’ word) or sexual innuendo’s frequent some of these books.  I wonder, do authors think this is what is required to write a bestseller? 

     Well, that whole idea is just absurd. 

     If you look at many of the bestsellers, or the more popular sellers, there are many by what I have now deemed, “Safe Authors”.

To name a few:

James Dashner (Maze Runner)

Shannon Hale (Princess Academy, and Book of Bayern series)

Brandon Mull( Fablehaven )

Rick Riordan (The Lightning Thief)

Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games)

Carrie Ryan (Forest of Hands and Teeth)

Aprilynne Pike (Wings)

Catherine Fischer (Incarceron)

Lauren Oliver (Delirium)

Ally Condie (Matched)

Bree Despain (Dark Divine)

     My list could go on and on and yet, there are still even more not-so-safe-YA books out there.  I think it is fairly obvious that foul language isn’t a requisite to produce a bestseller, so the mystery remains. Why?

     I was watching the news a couple weeks ago and I was surprised to find a quick blurb about this very topic.  The news reporter was interviewing a writer and asked why so much of YA fiction included foul language and explicit content. I was so appalled by her answer I started yelling at the T.V.!  (My poor husband was unfortunate enough to witness this)   

     The writer’s response? “Kids today will be exposed to it one way or another. Why not have it introduced to them in a controlled environment?”


     Well, if we are to follow that ingenious golden nugget of advice, then we might as well host a party for our teens which includes alcohol and drugs.  Hey, they’re going to be exposed to it, but if I throw the party they’ll be exposed to it in a ‘controlled environment’. 

     I think we can all see the holes in that argument.

     Several months ago, I was browsing the book section at Walmart and noticed a woman pick up a YA novel, The Nine Lives of Chloe King.  I mentioned I had read it, that I had enjoyed it, but there was a lot of language in it.  She looked at me and sighed in frustration.  “I’m looking for something for my eleven year old to read.  She enjoys the series on ABC family, and I figured the book would be similarly clean. Why do they have to put stuff like that in?” (The series wouldn’t have been allowed to air if all the language had remained unchanged.)

     My own daughter has now entered the realm of the ‘tweens’. She’s frustrated with me because there are many books her classmates are reading, that I won’t allow her to read yet. (It’s totally a drag having a book fanatic for a mom)

     I can’t help but ask myself, do parents know what their preteens and teens are reading?

     Before delving into the YA world myself, I’ll admit I assumed the YA stamp of approval on a book was synonymous with “This book has clean appropriate content.” 

     I’ve heard talk of people wishing ratings would be on books similar to that of games, televisions shows, music, and movies.  I don’t have an answer for that.  In a world of self publishing, blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc…well, you can see it could get complicated. 

     In this case, I think the best offense is defense.  Know what your kids are reading.  Read it yourself, thumb through the pages, or read reviews online to discover the content.  Your children will undoubtedly sigh and be irritated, but hey, isn’t that what being a parent is all about?   Happy reading.


  1. I love that you posted this!! I feel the exact same tired of all the garbage being thrown into everything. It's been the norm in so many forms of entertainment for so long, but it's killing me that the garbage is so prevalent in books now. They used to be the safe zone.
    Thank you for your list-there are some we haven't read on there-just in time for summer!!
    If you ever have a completely open afternoon (hahaha!) or can't sleep, I'd love for you to go on and on and make a longer list of the YA authors you have enjoyed! :)

  2. Hurray for lists :) This is good info, haven't had to much trouble because 8 year old just knicks the YA novel section but I'm sure it's coming. I wouldn't even mind a list of ones to avoid and why, although I'm sure I won't mind reading it "just to make sure" it's ok :)

  3. Good thoughts :) Happy your blogging again!

  4. Love that you're blogging again! I'm so glad I wasn't the only one noticing this....I was convinced that it was just me! I'm so nervous for when my kids start getting past the A to Z mysteries and the Box Car Children....I will definitely have to start reading books before they do! I now have a few more books to add to my list of books I need to read :o)

  5. Great post! It is good to see you back! Thanks for the list, there are some authors that I am excited to get to know. I would also like to add Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted). is a home school curriculum website that is based on reading excellent books. You can check out the titles they recommend and they are always a safe bet.

    Another problem I have had is finding books for BOYS. I have since found the "Sugar Creek Gang" series. My 9 1/2 year old loves these stories of good Christian boys who go on adventures.

    Let us know if you have any other recommendations! I hope you are loving Virginia. :)