Literature, though...literature is my bugaboo, for my children are (thankfully) readers, and two of them are teenagers. How is it that for 12 or 13 years of their lives my concerns with their literary choices have amounted to little more than "Is this edifying and worthwhile reading, or is it just brain candy?" When did the tide suddenly turn, and now I found myself staring at books written just for them and wondering, "What's in this book? Is there swearing? Blasphemy? Will they learn things about romance and sexuality that are contrary to our family's values? Will they be scarred for life by violent or disturbing scenes, since we have never let them watch much of that on the small screen?"
The worst thing about facing these agonizing questions was knowing that there was no way I could answer them, because I didn't have time to preview every book of interest and I knew of no information resource like the movie review websites available for cautious parents. Ordinary book review websites and reader reviews on bookstore websites didn't address the issues that concerned me specifically enough. So what did this lack of information mean for me as a parent?
In the end it meant I had to begin letting go. I had to use whatever knowledge and insight I'd gained from working in the juvenile department of a major bookstore and guide them as best I could in making wise reading choices--but I also had to recognize that my experience could only take me so far. I couldn't protect my impressionable girls from everything, and that's just the way it was. I guess every parent has to come to this realization, and it was now my turn.
But I didn't have to succumb blindly to the YA book industry, either. I could do something to help dispel the murky waters of books marketed to our precious, vulnerable teens and bring the true character of this exploding genre to light. In doing so, I could give other parents an "in" to a form of entertainment that decidedly prefers to keep parents like me at bay. Cool parents, sure, grab a copy and cozy down with your girls. But concerned, nosy ones like me, get out! There is too much money to be made in the type of books that make you cringe.
Which is exactly why I'm where I need to be. It's time to help parents find out exactly what is being fed to their children in the form of literature. Welcome to "What's In It," fellow Nosy Parent!