Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thursday Thoughts (7) - Read What You Want!


Welcome to my new Weekly post - Thursday Thoughts.

This is going to be a weekly discussion post that I hope will get all my blog readers commenting and giving their opinion. I will pick a topic and write how my thoughts and feelings about it and then hopefully all you lovely readers will leave a comment below with your own opinions.

The only rule I have is that everyone is respectful of each other's opinions, there is no real right or wrong here, this is a chance to experience a topic from someone else's perspective. Please listen to each other and be nice.

If you wish to take a more active part in this discussion and make your own blog post about the topic, I will create a Linky list below that you can link your post to. If more and more people take part - the bigger and better it will become.

Some discussions will be light and silly, others will be more serious but they will all be about books and book related things.

So come on everyone, pull up a chair and lets hear your voice.

This weeks topic is:

Read What You Want!

This wasn't the topic I had planned on covering today but I felt like I wanted to change it. Over the last few weeks the internet has been flooded with posts about what we should and shouldn't read, everyone seems to have an opinion. Adults shouldn't read YA it's juvenile, Children shouldn't read below their level it will harm their progress, People shouldn't read Fantasy - it takes away from reality, Crime novels should be banned - they can make us dangerous, Teenagers shouldn't read books about illness or fantasy or vampires or reality or if you really look about it - anything. I have seen a case about practically every genre and type of book. 
I've seen articles that say YA's shouldn't read the Hunger Games because they inspire violence and will make all children turn against each other, they shouldn't read the Fault In Our Stars because it will cause depression, they shouldn't read books about Dragons etc as it will make them lose focus on reality, they shouldn't read Vampire novels because it will cause bad habits, dark behaviour. And on and on it goes. 
When did things start to get so out of hand? Who are we to judge what someone should or shouldn't read, people have been reading these types of books for years, generations of people have been reading these types of books and it's never caused any problems. Just think how long ago Dracula was written, and TFIOS is not the first book about childhood illness, that's been written about for years too, i don't know when it first came out, but My Sister's Keeper has certainly been out for at least a decade. And yes they can be depressing but for some they can also be a beacon of hope. I lost my gran to cancer and reading 'Before I Die' made me feel less alone, someone else was going through the same thing and it was like finding someone to talk to. Some kids/teens/adults need that. I'm lucky enough to have people around me I can talk to, but not everyone has that privilege and these books can be a great source of comfort. 
And Fantasy is one of the oldest, mainstream genres out there. We seem to be underestimating humanity, I'm pretty sure that at least 95% of us can tell the difference between fantasy in a book or TV show and reality. Just because I read Terry Pratchett or Anne McCaffrey or Derek Landy, it doesn't mean I expect to see a dragon flying over head (although that would be cool!). I understand it isn't real, I read it for escapism and enjoyment, but I know it's not going to happen. 
Just like I can enjoy a crime novel (although I am a wimp and can only cope with Sherlock Holmes type) but that doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to go out and commit a crime or try to solve one. I just enjoy the stories.

And it upsets me that the main target of all of these arguments are Teenagers, they get far much more stick for their reading choices than anyone else. And that makes me sad - do you know how hard it is to get teenagers reading in the first place? They are the toughest demographic to target and get interested and then as soon as they are, they get slammed for their choices! What is that about? We should be encouraging them every step of the way, letting them know how wonderful it is, and how much they can get out of those books instead of focusing on these 'negatives' which to me have no real truth behind them.
I know the people most likely to be reading this feel the way I do, but I still felt I had to post it, and if one person reads it and changes their mind then I will be happy. So next time you hear about a best-selling novel for teenagers, or you see someone reading a book - don't judge them, either walk away and leave them to it or ask them what they think about the book, get their opinion instead of shoving yours in their face.

I saw one article (can't find it now grr) but it said something like the topics in books were too grown up for Teenagers and would confuse them, upset them, put ideas in their heads etc etc, it said that they shouldn't be able to read such subjects, parents should take the books away. Which to me is just ridiculous, sure some subjects in some books can be quite mature, but to me the way to deal with that is to let the reader know that they can talk about anything they don't understand or that upsets them. Whether that comes from their parents, teachers, trusted adult or friends - discussing the subject matter and reaching an understanding is much better than just banning it.

And it's not just genres and types of books we argue and judge people on, it's also specific books. I get it, everyone loves different things, but just because you hate something doesn't mean everyone else should too. I will admit, I have been guilty of this on occasion, if you know me - you know I can't stand the Twilight books, and I have made that clear to people, and argued against it. But after one particular moment I had to step back and think. If someone made similar comments to me, that I made to that reader, about a book I loved- how would that make me feel!? And I realised that I would be devastated. Luckily I've never been overly mean, that's not in my character, but I could tell I had offended the person and I didn't like that. Again, luckily it was someone I knew fairly well so no real deep feelings were hurt but I promised not to judge too harshly again. Obviously I can say "I don't like Twilight", but that doesn't mean that someone who does should be made to feel bad. I can recommend other books I think they may like and broaden their choices- but please never put someone down because they are reading something you don't like. 
Say that you dislike it, argue as to why (you have to have a reason!) but then move on. 

We need to stop judging people and making everything such a big deal, at the end of the day reading is a magical experience and something that should be encouraged. It improves comprehension, language skills, imagination, vocabulary and can be a great comfort to some, and it's also fun!

So come on everyone, I want to know - what do you read and have you ever been judged for it? I want all your horror stories.
Have you ever been the one judging?
I also want to know your views, are there some things we shouldn't let people read, teens in particular, or do you agree with me that everyone should read what they want?

 Thanks all.

Next Weeks topic will be - The Importance of Reading to Children and Babies 

1 comment:

madders ahatter said...

Well said, Becky!
An insightful post.
I'm with you all the way. Well, obviously some censorship is necessary to protect young children from pornographic content etc. but common sense should prevail. Certainly by their teens most readers have the sense to know what might trigger their own particular traumas and so self censor where necessary.
Not to mention there is nothing more appealing to most adolescents than 'forbidden fruit'. Tell them they mustn't read something and they'll be straight round the library to get a copy!