We are in the midst of the largest teenage population boom since the nineteen sixties, and all of the media are scrambling to reach this alert, savvy, wealthy, and self-conscious generation. But for authors, editors, parents, teachers, and librarians this large group of readers poses a series of special problems: what is too old, or too young for teenage eyes? Should there even be a literature for teenagers, or wouldn't they be better off skipping ahead to adult books? Do boys read at all? Can books offer moral instruction, role models, or guidance on the path to adulthood? Where do books fit into the ever-growing set of multimedia options that are this generation's birthright? Marc Aronson, Ph.D. has won the LMP, the industry award for editing, and the Boston Globe Horn Book award for writing books for teenagers. Here, in a series of probing, innovative essays he marshals a decade of insights earned in practice as well as his knowledge as a scholar of publishing history, to pose and answer key questions about the true potential of young adult literature. As he revels in the passion of its readers he exposes the real problem with teenagers and reading: adult myths, projections, and blind prejudices. Exploding the Myths is a provocative book that will be necessary reading for everyone who deals with this burgeoning generation of readers.
This collection of essays gives the reader a banquet for thought when exploring significant issues about the young adult reader. The author has done his homework and makes a convincing case that challenges librarians, teachers, and parents...interesting suggestions to help us deal with problematic categorizing....Anyone who has been alarmed by the content of YA novels should read this book and be prepared to find some new truths that may somewhat alter existing opinion. A thought-provoking book for professionals. This would be an excellent choice for a book talk among teachers and librarians in middle school and high schools.
The Book Report
This book would be valuable as a professional reference and discussion starter for small groups and classes.
...thought provoking and informative... Exploding the Myths is a useful addition to resources on teenagers and their reading.
Viewpoint On Books For Young Adults
Erudite and intellectually challenging. Aronson uses anecdote and felt experience to inform highly sustained arguments which are innovative and arresting.
As a YA publisher, editor, writer, and critic, Aronson is an eloquent, passionate advocate for high-quality YA books. The collection comprises 13 of his speeches and articles from the past six years, including "The Challenge and the Glory of YA Literature," which originally appeared in Booklist. He opens up the intense arguments about censorship, audience (how adult is young adult?), authenticity, popularity versus quality, and more. He talks about demographics (the huge rise in the teenage population, with fastest growth among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans), YA publishing history (how the YA novel started, where it's going now), the criteria for the Michael L. Printz Award, and how to reach teen readers. His style is clear, chatty, and tough. Whether talking about the graphic novel, poetry, magic realism, or gritty contemporary fiction, he shows that teenagers today are often more open to challenge and diversity in narrative and format than their adult guardians are. What many librarians think is "popular" is often condescending. Whether you agree with Aronson or not, you'll be caught up in issues that matter. A great starting place for YA literature classes.
Ushered in with a thoughtful foreword by author Bruce Brooks, this provocative collection of speeches and previously published essays challenges those who work with teenagers and their reading to shift paradigms, shatter illusions, and examine the essence of young adult literature. Aronson, author and editor of young adult books, begins with a heartfelt declaration that, despite predictions to the contrary, YA literature is truly alive and well. Then he explores the "borderlines and defining characteristics" of YA literature, its multicultural facets and perspectives, its lack of substantial critical reviews, and the role of adult books for teens. Two fascinating chapters deal with Aronson's experiences at a 1997 international conference on teenagers and reading in Rome (see VOYA, Soapbox, June 1998, and YA 101, October and December 1998). First, he focuses on the national and cultural differences that affect teen literature, then describes YA publishing in America and encourages more global elements within it. An examination of art in YA literature presents an interesting and ultimately effective comparison to the ballet Giselle, through which the coming-of-age journey is exemplified. Realism versus moralism, the awesome power of words in YA literature, and misconceptions fostered about teenagers are additional topics addressed. A chapter on the new Printz Award is actually an analysis of how YA books are judged and reviewed, with ratings by quality and popularity. Aronson carefully explains why he feels popularity evaluations are "intellectually indefensible" and "a stealth term disguising adult bias." The final essay deals with YA books that "grapple with a world in upheaval,"followed by an introspective interview with author Jacqueline Woodson. Librarians, teachers, students and professors of adolescent literature, publishers, editors, and authors need to read and contemplate this worthy companion to Michael Cart's excellent From Romance to Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature (HarperCollins, 1996). Index. 2001, Scarecrow, 152p, . Ages Adult. Reviewer: Diane P. Tuccillo SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
This collection of articles and speeches will be of interest to librarians, teachers, writers, and parents. One theme in many of the essays is how YA literature has evolved from its inception in the 1960s to the present day, not only surviving but exceeding critics' expectations as literature in its own right. Aronson examines the most common myths-that teens don't read, that they only read adult books, and that they don't have time for recreational reading. To dispel these beliefs that govern the publishing world, he calls on college professors, editors, and other researchers who have found evidence that reading is alive and well. A personal anecdote about the late Michael L. Printz and some insight into the creation of the award bearing his name are included. The last chapter is a wonderfully honest dialogue with Jacqueline Woodson in which she talks about breaking the traditional parameters of the YA novel in terms of voice, form, and access. Fully indexed, this thought-provoking collection should not be missed.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Aronson is a veteran editor of young adult books, an author, and a historian with a specialty in the history of publishing in the US; he frequently teaches courses on topics related to these activities. This book is a collection of talks and essays he has written over the course of a decade on various aspects of how, what, and why teenagers read, and some issues involved in why they don't. His insights will interest teachers, librarians, publishers, writers, and others concerned with young adult literature, and young adults in general. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Chapter 1 Foreword by Bruce Brooks Chapter 2 Acknowledgments Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 1 "The YA Novel Is Dead" and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Chapter 5 2 The Three Faces of Multiculturalism Chapter 6 3 The Challenge and the Glory of YA Literature Chapter 7 4 The Journals Judged Chapter 8 5 How Adult Is Young Adult? Chapter 9 6 We Have Nothing to Lose but Our Isolation Chapter 10 7 When Coming of Age Meets the Age That's Coming: One Editor's View of How Young Adult Publishing Developed in America Chapter 11 8 Exploring the Basement: The Artistic Challenge of YA Literature Chapter 12 9 What Is Real about Realism? All the Wrong Questions about YA Literature Chapter 13 10 The Power of Words Chapter 14 11 The Myths of Teenage Chapter 15 12 Calling All Ye Printz and Printzesses Chapter 16 13 Puff the Magic Dragon: How the Newest Young Adult Fiction Grapples with a World in Upheaval Chapter 17 14 What is YA, and What Is Its Future: Voice, Form, and Access— A Dialogue with Jacqueline Woodson Chapter 18 Index Chapter 19 About the Author