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Turning the Lights on Teen Literature

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Description: This summer, Meghan Cox Gurdon's article "Darkness Too Visible?" caused a big stir among librarians, teachers, readers, and parents. Come and share what you think- Is recent teen fiction too "dark?" What can books about violence, evil, and abuse offer teens? How do you deal with parents who are concerned? How do these themes and subjects reflect teens' needs and desires? Let's continue the debate that Gurdon started online with a rousing conversation face to face.

Presenter(s): Erin Reilly-Sanders, PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Associate, The Ohio State University

Format: Facilitated discussion

Target audience: Primarily teen services staff but also collections development, parents, and readers of teen fiction

Types of libraries:

  • High School
  • Middle School
  • Prison Library
  • Public
  • Regional System
  • School/Media Center
  • Urban

Subjects

  • Popular Culture
  • Readers' Advisory
  • Trends and Forecasting
  • Young Adult Literature
  • Young Adult Services

Additional comments: I have recently concluded a research project with Michele Castleman of Southeastern Louisiana University on teen protagonists who kill. Surprisingly, we found that the messages in these books were advocating for the value of life rather than promoting violence and that they reflected a new ideology of childhood where kids no longer needed to be protected or warned against dangers but had access to more information as well as the maturity to handle this information. Since so many people spoke out in support of or against Gurdon's article online, I'd like to continue the conversation as well as investigate how recent trends in teen fiction and in ideology of childhood will affect libraries.