Specifically on YA reading. Via jmprince and others on my reading list, this Newsweek article on the surge in teen reading.
All sorts of things in there that had me nodding, including this:
Levithan and others cite several reasons for this perfect storm for teen lit, the most obvious two being the increasing sophistication and emotional maturity of teenagers and the accompanying new freedom for writers in the genre to explore virtually any subject. Another is that bookstores and libraries are finally recognizing this niche and separating teen books from children’s books.
Still, most of these books, even the darkest ones, cling to some semblance of hope. And most are smart, well written and do not pander or talk down to their audience. That’s a welcome change, because for more than a decade, the common knock on young-adult books has been that there were too many so-called problem novels that self-righteously told kids how to behave in a “just say no” fashion. “A lot of those books were based on fear, they were cautionary and sermonlike. Teen readers rejected them,” explains Martin. “Too many books for teens just stated obvious messages, like ‘doing drugs is bad.’ But now the messages are imbedded into the story. This new crop of writers would rather present drugs as a miserable existence and show what it’s like to live through this experience than to preach.”
In other words, much of the content that’s making adult readers so uneasy? It’s not part of the problem with YA–it’s part of the whole reason teens are willing to bother with YA literature at all now. Because it’s willing to be real, and true, and to show the world instead of delivering lectures about it.