[library-media] Common Sense Media

Lanell Rabner lanell.rabner at nebo.edu
Mon Nov 22 08:51:23 MST 2010

This has been an excellent discussion, one we should all 
be involved in at least thinking about. One of the best 
things about YA literature is the responsiveness with 
which authors handle issues pressing down on kids. 
Certainly there are those kids who are looking for 
validation for their behavior, be it good or otherwise, 
however, there are many more young people looking for 
answers to life's challenges, as well as a just plain good 
story. All of which can be found under the guise of YA 
literature. Dystopian literature is a prime example. Teens 
think the world is going to be gone in about 500 years, so 
all kinds of authors are taping into that fear, writing 
excellent, good, and some pretty poor books about new 
world orders, and life after some kind of holocaust.

I wish our kids lived in a Pollyanna world. I'm sad they 
don't. I think I did when I was a teenager. As a teacher 
of literature to Youth in Custody, every day I hear 
stories I could have lived a lifetime without ever 
hearing. Some of my boys are looking for validation for 
their criminal behavior, others for answers to their 
problems, but all of them for what life in prison will be 
like, because sadly to say, that is where most of them are 
headed. So I buy very "iffy" books like Jay Asher's 
phenomenal discussion book Thirteen Reasons Why, No 
Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row, 
and Rats Saw God, and unrated books like What Happened to 
Cass McBride, Shattering Glass, Rikers Higher, and any and 
everything by Paul Volponi. Maybe not titles for 
everyone's library but certainly for mine and not just for 
my Cornerstone boys.

Thanks Christine, for reminding us to collect for our 
community of users. But I have to confess, I'm skeptical 
of any rating system that labels the Twilight series as 
"on" for kids 13+. A stereotypical, manipulated female I 
would hope no young woman I know would ever look to as a 
role model. Veiled sexuality? Rampant! And touted by 
probably more mothers than their teens. I find the covert 
more dangerous than the overt. So for me, the long and the 
short of it is knowing your users, what's out there, and 
using good judgment to match them up.

I love YA lit! It brings us so many great stories, 
characters, and storytellers!

Have an excellent Thanksgiving Break :)

~lanell rabner

On Fri, 19 Nov 2010 12:49:38 -0700
  "CHRISTINE Hunsaker" <chunsaker at weber.k12.ut.us> wrote:
> I have been becoming disenchanted with what is termed 
>"Young Adult" literature.  I understand students have 
>difficult lives and it is not a Pollyanna world out 
>there.  However, at one point I wondered if I was 
>"opening a bar for young adults" filling it with sex 
>scenes, nudity, drug abuse, date rape scenes, bad 
>language, etc.  Some of the authors may justify their 
>content because 'young adults' are interested or 
>participate in some difficult or 'adult-like' situations. 
> Critics have said students may be searching for answers 
>on how to handle their situation or validation for acting 
>as they do or want to do.
> I don't think it's censorship to take care in what we 
>present to our school audiences.  It is part of our 
>selection policy that purchased material should be 
>appropriate for the age and clientele of our audience. 
> As I read the reviews of the books on 
>CommonSenseMedia.org, a particular "Yellow-17" sounded 
>pretty raunchy with very descriptive sexual acts and I 
>wondered why it isn't a "RED" (for every secondary level) 
>on their guidelines.  We have to decide if the literature 
>warrants residency on our shelves.  If it isn't good 
>literature, we can spend our limited budgets on better 
>literature for our students.  
> It took much of the public by surprise when they 
>discovered that students as young as elementary had been 
>"sexting" (sending pornographic pictures or texts) to 
>each other.  Currently, the issue is the use of Spice and 
>Ivory Wave:  something that has not been banned in the 
>past, but now recognized that the effects of 
>participating in a previously non-controlled substance is 
> We need to understand that addictions are not limited to 
>drugs, alcohol, or other substance abuse.  Pornography 
>creates addictions for some people as well and it can 
>start in the junior high years (or earlier).  Will 
>everyone reading the contested titles become addicted to 
>pornography? No, just as not everyone who drinks wine 
>will become alcoholics.  However, I have a difficult time 
>feeding an addictive substance to young people knowing it 
>could be detrimental to them as they may seek material 
>that is harder core when they become desensitized to the 
>current material.  According to our district's 
>guidelines, we would be justified in not checking out 
>videos that have a PG-13 rating without parental 
>permission.  While our books do not have a MPAA rating, 
>we need to be careful with the printed material as well.
> Should parents be involved in their students' reading 
>material? Definitely!  Should librarians use wisdom in 
>making appropriate selections for their audience?  YES! 
> Just as Hunger Games should not be in the elementary 
>libraries for the young students, graphic adult 
>situations or violence is not appropriate for young 
>adults.  Students seeking this material will can be 
>purchase or find it from other sources.
> Good luck in your libraries!  Thanks for all the input I 
>have gained from this listserv
> Christine Hunsaker
> Roy High School
> Roy, Utah

Lanell Rabner
Springville High School
1205 East 900 South
Springville, Utah 84663 USA
lanell.rabner at nebo.edu

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