Week 13 Prompt
Though this week’s group of “genres” all seem very different, they all have in common the fact that many people don’t feel that they are legitimate literary choices and libraries shouldn’t be spending money on them or promoting them to adults. The common belief is that adults still don’t or shouldn’t read that stuff. How can we as librarians work to ensure that we are able to serve adults who enjoy YA literature or graphic novels? Or should we?
I was flabbergasted when I read this week’s prompt because I never thought that people would discriminate against YA Fiction and graphic novels just like the Romances. Everyone has the right to read whatever kind of genre they want and I love and appreciate that librarians (and library’s) adhere to that believe with their Intellectual Freedom and Bill of Rights doctrine. Anyway, graphic novels and YA Literature are both extremely popular which should merit their inclusion in the collection development process (which includes purchasing and promoting).
Graphic novels such as Smile by Raina Telgemeier has been used successfully in schools to promote reading in reluctant readers but they also benefit people (which includes adults) who are dyslexia, visual learners, English as a Second Language individuals or people who just love to read them (like I do). Graphic novels aren’t just about comics and superheroes. There are realistic fiction, non-fiction, and science fiction and fantasy graphic novels. Well, The Walking Dead graphic novels series which my husband reads has drawn attention to the genre. I have read all of Raina Telegemeier graphic novels to my children and I have personally read Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Gareth Hind’s The Odyssey which is an adaptation of Homer’s classic poem among others. I am planning on reading the Hind’s book to my children.
The other genre- Young Adult Fiction is extremely popular with adults. It’s also recognized as an ‘legitimate literary ‘ genre by American Library Association who gives out a yearly YALSA award. According to a 2012 Publishers Weekly study, 55% of adults are buying YA books. That percentage is probably higher now but it doesn’t surprise me because I enjoy reading this genre and I know quite a few adults that do as well. The stories are very creative, the authors are excellent writers, and they are short and easy to read. This genre (like graphic genre) is broken into different categories- realistic fiction, fantasy, realistic historical fiction and romance fiction. I started to notice adults taking notice of YA literature when the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling started gaining popularity in the late 1990’s here in the United States. Now I am noticing that YA novels such as A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (it deals with bullying and a sick mother), Looking for Alaska by John Green, ( a cerebral teen that falls for a girl named Alaska), “All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (discusses suicide and transgender) are so popular that they are being adapted to the silver screen.
We as librarians can serve our patrons who enjoy graphic novels or YA Literature by promoting these genres in our libraries. I would create displays for both genres. I would host authors of these genres in the library. I would create lists of YA novels that adults should read and create displays showcasing them. I would also develop a Book club for graphic novels. I would create a program for ESL individuals (which would include tutoring, GED completion, learning the computer, and resume assistance) and I would introduce graphic novels to them. I would use the “I Read YA” campaign in my public library for adult fans.