Wise Words for Writers: G. K. Chesterton and Young Adults.

There was a bit of a stir recently through the Wall Street Journal when an essay was presented questioning the darkness in Young Adult literature.  Curious (to me), when the rebuttals came in, no one denied that the literature is dark.  Some even suggested it was very dark.  Of course, they went on to suggest that the essayist was everything evil, just short of a censor.  In fact, it was a strong enough reaction, the essayist was allowed an unprecedented second column to rebut the rebuts.

The person in the Wall Street Journal was not suggesting that young people be denied access to any to these stories.  They were simply questioning the author’s intentions in writing such stories

What are such authors trying to say?  The moron’s response would be they are not necessarily trying to say anything.  If that were true, why write the book in the first place? 

Okay, the response might go, but they are not trying to influence young people – they are not normalizing the darkness.  Novelists don’t have that kind of power.  And neither do television shows, video-games, movies, or the internet alone.  But in case you haven’t noticed, the darkness surrounds young people these days.  Say it isn’t so.

What it comes down to for me is something G. K. Chesterton said:

Fairytales are not written to tell children that dragons exist. Children know full well that dragons exist.  Fairytales are written to show children that sometimes dragons can be defeated.       G. K. Chesterton

Personally, I have no problem with dark themed Young Adult books.  My only concern is, what are we saying to our children in the process?  Are we telling them that dragons are normal, to be expected in life and the whole world is f***ed up, so get used to it?  Or are we saying that dragons can sometimes be overcome?

I am no Y. A. expert.  You tell me.

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