I’d like to welcome YA author, Shawn Lamb, here to continue the discussion on cleaner reading.
By Shawn Lamb
This is a hot button topic. I first dealt with this as a parent in scrutinizing and previewing all the books my daughter brought home from school for a class assignment or on an extra reading list. I’ve been called all the names and heard the complaints against those of us who don’t want our kids reading what we feel is inappropriate material – i.e. sex and foul language. Why this intolerance when society speaks about tolerance? Why reduce to name calling and labeling one who holds a different view for the sake of their child?
When my daughter asked me to write her a fantasy book, I took the request seriously. What happened during the writing process is a story for another time. Suffice it to say, if I didn’t want my daughter reading certain things, I wasn’t about to put them in my book for other people’s children to read. This is when my perspective broadened. I thought as a parent I was among the minority of those searching for clean reads, but as an author I have discovered I am of the majority – a silent majority that is often overlooked or completely ignored by other authors and publishers. This is not to toot my own horn, but to share what is a surprising and gratifying reality.
The first book in my series was released in January 2010, and I began visiting local middle schools – public, private and home school groups. Now in the private and home school groups one expects to find people of like conservative minds, but in the public school is where I found the most surprising response. Every parent I encountered during multiple visits over months of activity, asked me if my book included witches, vampires, paranormal relationships, sex or foul language. My answer to all those is No, I write classic fantasy like Narnia and Lord of the Ring and the stories are clean reads. Not only did they purchase a copy of my book, but thanked me profusely for writing a book they felt safe for their child to read.
Many engaged me in conversation about the state of the books offered to young adults. To a one, they don’t approve of the overly sexualizing of kids by showing dysfunctional and paranormal relationships. Where are the good, wholesome, balanced relationships? Some parents tote the line and keep their kids from reading such books like I did. Others caved and compromised because it is the latest fad and to appease their kids. But all of them expressed frustration at the situation of being dismissed as prudes, radicals or intolerant and ultimately ignored by authors and publishers.
Lest you think it is just the parents, no, there are kids wanting clean books as well. Often they are shy and/or feel bullied into reading what their friends are simply to fit in. This is the reason my daughter asked me to write her a book – the sense of alienation and criticism by her friends. She didn’t want to cave, but it was hard to deal with on a daily basis. I’m glad we have a relationship where she could come to me and express her frustration – and I was able to help. Many kids don’t or can’t speak to their parents and fall under peer pressure.
The plain simple fact is there are many parents and kids who want don’t want to read sex, foul language or unnatural relations in books. It isn’t just religious based reasoning. Kids, ages 9-12, do not need to be reading about paranormal sexual relations or any sexual relation for that matter. Their minds and emotions aren’t equipped to handle it.
Society claims it is the responsibility of the parents to monitor what their kids read. So when will the criticism stop of those who take that responsibility seriously and protect their children from what they consider inappropriate? When will it be accepted that some people – kids and adults – want to read clean books?
Find more Shawn Lamb here.