The Problem With So Called “Young Adult Books”

Every time I go to the library, I have to look up the reviews of the books I checked out to see if there is anything bad in the books. I cannot count how many times I had to put back a book because it had a lot of swearing and sexual content. Most of the time when I get a book, it will pass one requirement, but break another. Why do authors put such content in their books? This is a question I will answer because I have asked it myself.

When I was a kid it was easy to find books that didn’t have swearing and sex when I was in the children’s section, but now that I am older and the child section books don’t interest me anymore I have to find books in the young adult section. But it has been a difficult challenge to find books that meet my standards. I know every person has a different taste in books, some like sports, fantasy, or violence. When I go to the library it is getting harder to find a book that I like and one that doesn’t have a lot of swearing, and sexual content. First, we need to see how books are published, it is quite simple. The author writes the book, then he or she needs to find an agent, then the agent needs to find a publisher, and if the publisher likes the author’s book he will try to make an offer.

So where did the term young adult come from? The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) says the term young adult was first used in the late 1960’s. The term was used for realistic fiction books that addressed problems or interests to young readers ages 12-18. Are we saying that young people are interested in sexual content, and swearing? If so why? Some kids might be interested in that kind of content, but I assume that most kids are not seeking it out. Kids might like this kind of content because young adult books introduced it. Part of the reason I think the author puts sexual content and swearing into their books is because they don’t care. I am certain that authors that put swearing In their books swear themselves. Also because they might think that kids like swearing and sex.

What can you do about it? Just suck it up and read through the swearing and make sure you skip the sex parts? No, I have had to find websites that give a good enough review that I can make a decision to read it or not. One website I found was, it lets parents and kids review books, movies, apps, games, TV shows, and websites. Parents and kids can write a review and then write what age they think someone needs to be to read the book.

The other solution is either we don’t buy or read books made by people that put such content in their pages. Perhaps authors should just stop putting in content that does not need to be in the book. Stuff like swearing and sexual content in books for me is very hard to read. Some people might not see a problem with swearing and sexual content. But what are we teaching a 12-year-old that reads the same exact book as a 17-year-old? If we separate children in school because of age or grade, why can’t we do the same for more mature young adult books? Some of the things in young adult books I don’t think a 12-year-old should be able to read at such a young age. Don’t we want kids to be excited to read? Then we need to give them something age-appropriate to read as well.



One thought on “The Problem With So Called “Young Adult Books”

  1. Dear Lexi, What an enjoyable post!!!

    I wonder how many other young adult readers (or parents for that matter) are asking the same questions you are asking? You made me pause to think about the books I chose as a teenager and why. Oftentimes a genre or an author were recommended to me by older siblings or older friends and I thought I could handle the content because after all, I was quite mature during my teen years…but like a gateway drug, those young adult books only made me crave more stories but with more mature themes!

    The interesting perspective to me is the phenomenon of a reader taking on the persona of the characters they read about. “Last year, a team of psychologists found that people subconsciously become their favorite fictional characters.” (Taken from Medical Daily article-2013). The article only focuses on the positive aspects of reading fiction, but what happens when a young impressionable mind is consistently drawn to characters who are ‘dark’, are killers, have a sadistic side, etc?

    Another article points to the fact that when you feel so connected to a story as if you experienced it in real life, it is because your brain actually believes you have experienced it! They go on to say, “When we read, the brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. Whether reading or experiencing it, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Novels are able to enter into our thoughts and feelings.” (Taken from Jan 2013)

    If we apply this evidence to a young teenager reading about sexual encounters, will that teenager be more apt to believe they are ready to engage in such encounters because their brains feel connected to the experiences they read about? Or will they be more likely seek out such encounters because they believe it will be just like what their favorite character experienced? It is food for thought!!!


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