- "YA "Lessons" This assumption of didacticism, whether attached to children’s or YA lit, makes me crazy! I believe that all good literature, regardless of intended audience, will illuminate for readers something about the world or themselves, but that it will do it in service to the story it tells, the characters it creates, and the language it uses, rather than in service to a lesson or moral. John Green’s Looking for Alaska, for instance, might “teach” teens not to drink and drive, but its real value comes in what readers learn in the aftermath of loss—even the vicarious loss experienced through the pages of the novel. I have had several students express their own gratitude for what the novel offered them in dealing with their own wide range of losses, but not one has ever said, “Boy, I’m sure grateful for the lesson that one taught me about drinking and driving!” Because kids get the lessons all over the place: school, parents and more and more, but literature models and enables emotional, experiential, reflective, and internal understanding. The “lessons” learned about being human resonate more fully and deeply than those behavioral lessons adults are so anxious about. Kids already know not to drink and drive, but maybe experiencing the aftermath of that behavior is the way to help them truly understand the consequences." ~ quoted with permission of Dr. Caroline E. Jones (8.18.11).
Thank you Dr. Jones for sharing this perspective.