Leave your parents at home

February 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm 5 comments

One interesting thread I saw in chapter 5 of Jones (Connecting Young Adults and Libraries) was the advice that librarians should try to talk to young adults alone, without parents or teachers. This seems like important advice, since adults don’t always know what the teens in their lives really like to read–particularly if said teens enjoy books with themes of violence, sexuality, or drug use. (I know I wasn’t exactly raving to my mom about the sex scenes in Laurell K. Hamilton’s books, even though they were totally part of the reason I kept reading the Anita Blake series.)

I would also add that it can be really important to get teens one on one, apart from their peers. Although I’m sure some kids with reading difficulties will be hesitant to admit that at all, I’m betting they’re less likely to admit it in front of friends or classmates. And kids who have the perception that reading is uncool, but still love to read, might be hesitant to ask for recommendations for pleasure reading (as opposed to asking for something for a school assignment) in the company of their peers. The “adult themes” question is still valid here, too, particularly as teens come to terms with their own sexuality.

The whole thing strikes me as really ironic when paired with an article I read for my other class, though–a Times piece on various libraries either banning teens without adult supervision, or restricting their hours to make it much harder for teens to come in at all.


Entry filed under: books. Tags: , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  February 16, 2008 at 6:18 am

    It is ironic, but don’t you think that the libraries that are banning/restricting teen access just don’t want to face the realities of working with teens – creating a space, hiring friendly staff, building somewhat controversial collections, etc.?

  • 2. annajcook  |  February 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    librarians should try to talk to young adults alone, without parents or teachers.

    God yes! Back when I worked at Barnes & Noble, my least favorite customer was the parent (usually the mother) who came in with their teenager and asked me to find appropriate reading material for them. Of course the teenager rejected everything the parent approved of and wanted to read everything the parent thought of as trashy.

    The “no sex” rule particularly irritated me. What safer way is there to explore sexuality as a teenager? I mean, seriously. 0% chance of pregnancy or STIs :). And reading about different kinds of sexual experiences (good, bad, kinky, queer) can give you really valuable information about what turns you on. Of course it’s fantasy, but it’s still all important information about your own desires.

  • 3. pandanose  |  February 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Linda, I think that’s part of the problem, but I think it’s also a sign of a larger unwillingness to see libraries and young adults holistically. They’re reacting to what they view as misbehavior (which is in some cases definitely that–the Times article mentions the worst examples, of course) without seeing it in a larger context. Trying to treat the symptoms without addressing the system. (I don’t want to say “disease,” because then it sounds like I think teenagers are a sicknes…) Which is funny, because Jones cites holistic thinking as a trend in YA services.

  • 4. linaria  |  February 21, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Out of curiosity, are you in the Simmons program? Do you like it? A lot of my coworkers are Simmons graduates and I seem to get mixed reviews about it.

  • 5. pandanose  |  February 21, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I’m very close to completing the GSLIS program, yes. These YA lit entries are for a class in said program. I’d be happy to offer my full review of my experience in an email if you’d like, but here’s the short version: some of the classes are very, very boring. Some of the classes are not. Some of the professors (like the one for this class!) are very, very awesome. Some of the professors are not. Every semester to date I’ve had one class I loved and one I hated.

    I’m not surprised you’ve gotten mixed reviews. The individual programs are quite varied, the student body is pretty diverse (aside from being wildly skewed on the female side), and any given class is rarely the same from semester to semester.


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