Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What should teens read or not read? (Some tempting articles and lists)

Like many fans of Suzanne Collins popular dystopian series The Hunger Games, I've been following the casting choices of the 2012 movie adaptation, often with that troubled, peeking-through-hands-over-the-eyes attitude. If you haven't heard the announcements, Jennifer Lawrence from Winter's Bone has been chosen for Katniss Everdeen, with Peeta Mellark played by Josh Hutcherson (remember Bridge to Terabitha in 2007?) and Gale Hawthorne played by Liam Hemsworth. While there is something to be said for the strength of fans' attachment to these characters, I'm even more intrigued by director Gary Ross's decision to make this film PG-13. The New York Times has a solid article interviewing the typically media-shy Suzanne Collins, with a focus on the portrayal of war and violence in young adult literature. Definitely worth a close read, though if you haven't finished the series, be wary of a few spoilers.

Not just the folks at NYT and Hollywood are concerned about what is and is not appropriate for teens - the British, too, are thinking on it these days. Patrick Ness, author of the Chaos Walking series, selected his Top Ten Unsuitable Books for Teens for the Guardian. I quite enjoy his point about the appeal of banned or off-limits books for (supposedly) too young readers: "What a great way to establish reading as exciting and maybe even dangerous, eh?". The list includes Beloved, The Virgin Suicides, and Catcher In the Rye, among others, with a summary and commentary for each by Ness.

I knew April was National Poetry Month, but I have just learned that April is also LGBT Awareness Month. Persephone Magazine has a feature on LGBT Teen Fiction that go beyond "tolerant" stories to those with whole acceptance of the normality of non-heteronormative relationships and gender viewpoints. The article's author, Anna Carey, says it best: "The irony of this review, of course, is that I’m raving about an aspect of the book that is really present in the story in the same way the sky is blue." The books featured are Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo and Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.

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