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home : opinion : opinion April 29, 2016

9/8/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: What is the 'Young Adult' in your house reading?

Rich Thurlow

I used to think that people concerned about the content of "Young Adult" fiction had too much time on their hands.

You run across those wire stories occasionally, stories about parents upset with certain books that they feel aren't appropriate for teens being on school library shelves. You are familiar with the same stories if you follow the news. And think about it: Of all those stories about parents worried about certain authors and books, did any offer specific information about what worried the parents?

For example, Cheryl Rainfield's 2010 "Scars" centers around a girl who had been raped by her father since she was an infant. Now the father is providing her with knives, hoping the teen will cut herself to death.

The trade publication School Library Journal called "Scars" "one heck of a good book." With adults like these in presumed positions of at least some responsibility, it's not hard to understand why some adults are leery of "experts" in the field of raising children.

This information is from the essay, "The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books," by Meghan Cox Gurdon. Type the author's name and the title of the piece into a search engine and read it all.

If you do, your opinion of young adult literature will be forever changed.


I'm guessing a lot of people were thinking "that dog isn't dead" when they finished reading the story about Thor being put down in Thursday's Miner.


It's football season and all is right in the world.

I'm one of those guys who loves the pros - and the college games, too. And those college Saturday TV games just go on and on, especially when Hawaii is playing a home game.

Nevada-Reno was one of my favorite Saturday night teams to watch, back when Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback. I used to rave about him to an audience of skeptics.

A running QB who can pass? Big deal, they said, you'll never hear from him after he graduates.

If I see the Next Big Thing one of these Saturdays, I'll let you know.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

My lady is a special education teacher and she is a big supporter of common core. teaching is her profession and not mine, so ill take her word for it.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Midwest Momma

A lot of today's "young adult" books are actually marketed to and read by people (esp. women) that are ages 25-45. I have read quite a few of them. I do not believe in censorship partly because of the work that I do and partly because I am also a writer. But I would strongly suggest that parents be involved with their children and know what they are doing and reading so that you can have intelligent discussions about what they are exposed to. This helps you and your kids make good choices about what to read and when and brings you together and helps you know what they are ready to read and gives them someone to answer some of the hard questions in the content, not just 'getting them out of my hair for a while.' Censorship is just official babysitting and has no real place in an educated population.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“I have read enough about Common Core however, to know it is a disaster…”

Wrong as usual, but if one reads only screeds put out by right wing fools one will always be misled.

“To say it makes students college ready is being challenged daily by more and more teachers…”

I would like to see some actual evidence of that, not just your usual hyperbole.

“It comes straight out of DC and is biased to the left to the max.”

Nope, that is wrong as well.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Cart Before Horse

Joker w

"I'd ban them from reading your column"

Yes censorship - they will be good little communists.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Ditto.. ........

Re: English teacher

Beautifully said! I glad to see I`m not the only one here with the same observations as you.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: YEP MR.C.

@ Teach, Your right on the mark with your remarks. Rush somebody couldn't write a book if they gave him all the time in the world to do so.

Hes best works would never have seen the light of day without good Ghost writers.

Stay with it teach, never went far in school myself, but I read well enough to know B.S. from the real stuff and you named some of the best of the best books ever written.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

No name English teacher:

Yes, those are good books. I have read enough about Common Core however, to know it is a disaster foisted upon all but four states who have refused it.

To say it makes students college ready is being challenged daily by more and more teachers who are seeing the light. How can anyone know what it will do since it has never been tried before actually. Nor was it created by those who have been attributed with creating it, yet another lie.

It comes straight out of DC and is biased to the left to the max.

The problems with it are legion. As a teacher, you need to take a good hard look at all of it, it isn't just about a few books you are having your students read. You need to see the overall picture behind it.

Incidentally, two of my children are teachers - one for 28 years, the other one newer, for about five years.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Edward: 199WC

Problem is, the content of many of the new YA books of today. Life is not all death, disease, divorce, drugs, vampire sex, incest, housing projects and unwanted pregnancies...often topics of new YA books which often leave you hanging with no resolution.

Life actually is also peace, joy, happiness, fulfilment, love, marriage, babies, God, church family. You needn't eliminate all pain to make a good book with a point and a great ending either.

Last week I read The Long Walk, The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz. He, young Polish soldier confronting Hitler is captured instead by Russia, charged with spying, walked 1000 miles to a Siberian camp where he and others escape, walk 14 months over the Siberian tundra, Himalayas, Gobi desert with no map/compass, only an ax head, homemade knife and determination. The book is painful. Not all make it including a brave Polish teenage girl they include. But you close the book feeling if they made it, you can too.

I've been an avid reader since second grade. Books serve many purposes. One is to take you away from the problems of your life. We have forgotten that.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Nicely said, English Teacher. I wish I had you as a teacher in high school. I never ran into those books until I started going to college when I was 32.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: English Teacher


I can assure you that the Common Core standards are not "throwing out the great old classics." Despite the fact that you will, no doubt, conjure up some story about a teacher you know who has provided you with evidence to the contrary, you couldn't be more wrong.

As a currently practicing language arts teacher, I trust that you'll agree with my assessment that To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, the Awakening, 1984, and the Grapes of Wrath, to name just a few, qualify as classics and are indeed still being taught under the mantle of the dreaded Common Core.

While I have no doubt committed a grievous error by omitting Rush Limbaugh's nuanced prose from my curriculum, I think many of the posters here will agree that my students are reading some of the most important novels written in the English language.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

"One good new book you can count on is Rush Limbaugh's Rush Revere and his horse Liberty, a time traveler ..."

Sounds like a fantasy as created b Satan. Not good.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: joker wilde

No kids in my household any more, but if there were, I'd ban them from reading your column.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

WC 177

The YA literature of today is disastrous - runs the gamut from vampires to dysfunctional families. Common Core adds insult to injury, throwing out the great old classics.

One good new book you can count on is Rush Limbaugh's Rush Revere and his horse Liberty, a time traveler who is able to go to any American history event and tell the TRUE story behind it, not the revisionist version being taught in public schools. It is available at a discount at Amazon right now, will be on shelves in October. Good YA choice for Christmas.

I had a look at some YA books at Hastings the other night. The first book I picked up for YA's was how the Indians had saved the Pilgrims from starvation, complete with graphics.

The first picture, beautiful but wrong, was of a group of smiling happy Indians carrying the full Tgiving dinner to the very thin, frail Pilgrims who obviously were at death's door before the Indians came to the rescue.

If you feel this is the truth, I encourage you to study and find the real truth of the first Thanksgiving. Here's a hint. It isn't like the picture I viewed.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Confucius Says

I think we need to drop some ancient knowledge on the kids these days. We teach them all the important ancient civilizations long before they have any conscious to relate it. We need to start integrating books like Thomas Paine’s- Common Sense. Some in depth books on civilizations with pyramids is a good start: how the heck did they become that developed to have such advanced social societies??? Some books on Megalithic structures around the world and maybe some metaphysics. Science and technology is only accounting for so much of the story. Life gets weird when you look at the world’s crazy history and see what was going on other then wars. The new era is coming AKA post 2012, time to get enlightened everyone. Knowledge is the answer, where will you begin to question??

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

I'm familiar with Meghan Cox Gurdon and her vociferous criticism of anything remotely resembling reality in children's books. So the idea is to let children, especially teenagers, grow up in a fantasy land of honey and sweetness. What happens when the kid is faced with some harsh realities of the real world? First of all, the kid is not prepared to handle such situations and then begins to distrust and resent the teller of the original fantasy. Such attitudes short-change children who history has shown to be very durable and adaptable.

The remark about Thor was cruel, mean and unnecessary unless the writer likes hurting people.

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Trained Observer

Sorry Rich but I am pretty sure that when you went to high school "The Catcher in the Rye" was on your required reading list. Kinda the same thing. People have brains and can decide what is okay for their kids to read. Censorship is anti-American.

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