Roundup: Teenagers and YA articles

It’s been an emotionally exhausting few weeks. My father passed away. The funeral was on Friday. I’ve been on leave from work, missed class at uni, and haven’t touched my Koha project.

But I’ve been reading a few articles about YA and teenagers. Which is broadly on topic for a library blog. So here’s a roundup.

Let’s Update Those YA Lit Articles with Current Titles, and more suggestions for how we talk about YA lit in the media

From Karen Jensen for the Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Twilight and The Hunger Games are ancient history in terms of books teenagers are actually reading, buth they’re still the most commonly referenced titles in articles about YA. Karen Jensen’s article lays out some rules for writing more up-to-date articles:

  • Include authors of colour — Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give has been on the NYT’s best seller list for over two years
  • Get actual data: NYT best seller lists and library circulation records show what teens are actually reading
  • Distinguish between the books actual teens are reading and the books YA fans are reading: there’s a lot of adults who read YA, and they skew the data

Teenagers are better behaved and less hedonistic nowadays

An older article, from the January 2018 edition of the Economist.

Teenagers around the world are drinking less, smoking less, and having sex later than teenagers were last decade. They also tend to find it easier to talk to their fathers, but feel lonelier and find it harder to make friends at school.

Theories as to why: parents have smaller families, and so spend more time with their children, teenagers are interacting more through smart phones and less face-to-face, and increasing ethnic diversity mean there are more teens surveyed who come from cultures where drinking and sex are frowned upon.

The sources for the article are the WHO’s Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children report and the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment.

Teen boys rated their female classmates based on looks. The girls fought back.

At a high school in Maryland, male students had circulated a list that ranked the female students in order of their looks. A group of female students complained to the school administrators. The administrators investigated, and gave one male student detention.

Unsatisfied, the female students rallied together to demand more action. The result was a two-and-ahelf hour meeting between male and female students where the girls explained why they felt so violated, weekly meetings to plan ways to prevent this happening again, and senior students visiting junior classrooms to talk about toxic masculinity.

“Knowing that my closest friends were talking to me and hanging out with me but under that, silently numbering me, it definitely felt like a betrayal,” Schwartz said. “I was their friend, but I guess also a number.”

The killer quote for me:

“Knowing that my closest friends were talking to me and hanging out with me but under that, silently numbering me, it definitely felt like a betrayal,” Schwartz said. “I was their friend, but I guess also a number.”

‘Be urself’: meet the teens creating a generation gap in music

The Guardian has an article about the “underground bedroom pop” of young women, many teenagers, writing and recording music for YouTube.

I’m not sure any movement can still be called underground if it’s being reported in the Guardian. But I’ve come across this genre in my wanderings through YouTube, primarily Dodie and Tessa Violet. (I’d recommend Dodie’s angsty ‘Burned Out’ and Violet’s boppy ‘Crush’ if you want to somewhere to start.)

There’s a definite aesthetic to this bedroom pop. White walls. Fairy lights. Cute but relatable performers. A hint of mental health problems. Ukuleles. It reminds me heavily of the booktuber aesthetic.

It’s interesting. But it’s all so very, very… nice.

I wonder if there’s a dark version of this? Teens making bedroom black metal and garage goth? Or am I just showing my age?

Do teens get pushed out of YA when it’s called a genre?

From Kelly Jensen for Book Riot.

There’s a statistic that 55% of people who buy YA are adults, not teens. Jensen argues that thinking of YA as a genre rather than a category sidelines the very teenage readers the books are supposedly written for.

Author, editor and agent Danielle Binks has argued that YA is a readership not a genre.

I agree there is an issue with adults crowding out teens in the field (see my Teens to the Front manifesto from several years ago). I’m less convinced that YA isn’t a genre. Crime is a genre about crime. Romance is a genre about romance. YA is a genre about being a young adult. It has its own history, set of influence, rules and conventions.

(I’ve also yet to come across a definition of genre that I think accurately defines how genres actually work, from creators to retailers to consumers. One day I’ll take a stab at it, but it will involve explaining fuzzy set theory, so today is not that day.)

(Also: Jensen throws in the blithe assertion that Horror is a mood, not a genre. This might come as a surprise to all the scholars and historians of the genre.)

Students sexually harassing teachers

The YA community often talks about how awesome teenagers are. It’s important, though, to remember that teenagers are not an homogenous mass.

There’s a wide variety of teens. And some of them are complete shits.

Clementine Ford reports for the Saturday Paper on the problem of female teachers being abused, threatened and sexually harassed by male students, and the lack support provided by administrators.

A recent survey of almost 2000 members of the Australian Education Union (AEU) found just over 50 per cent of respondents had “experienced, witnessed or supervised someone subject to sexual harassment” while working in the education sector.

Women accounted for 80 per cent of those sexually harassed during their education careers. In 90 per cent of cases, the perpetrator was male. Those most likely to be targeted in schools were women aged 25-29 years old. Within this demographic, almost half of those reporting had experienced sexual harassment in their current workplaces.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the survey findings, though, was the hesitancy most respondents felt in reporting harassment to school administrations. Two-thirds of education providers reported feeling worried they would be unsupported and potentially exacerbate the situation, or even risk unemployment. These are legitimate fears, particularly in an increasingly casualised teaching profession.


About davidwitteveen

IT person. Zine Maker. Level 0 Library Nerd. Doctor Who fan.
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