YA/Children's/Adult Books

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Sun Apr 27 05:59:41 EDT 2003

On Sun, 27 Apr 2003 minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

> Not sure what a straw argument is....  *why* is this "not a children's
> book"?  You don't say.  Presumably this was covered in detail in the
> discussion I now can't get hold of because the archives for that era have
> gone belly-up?
> I asked a question.  Charlie attempted to answer it, saying that he was
> only guessing; I responded that I find it strange to attempt to protect
> "children" as a sub-species from things it is entirely futile to attempt to
> prevent people under adult age from knowing about.

	I applaud your passionate arguments Minnow, but I think another
thing that has to be considered here is what people mean when they say
something is, or is not, a children's book. I sense an assumption in what
you have written that if one says Deep Secret is not a children's book,
that means that children ought not to read it.  I certainly divide books
up into children's books, YA books, and adult books, but I would never say
that a child couldn't read a YA or adult's book if it had the skills &
desire to do so and wasn't quivering & sobbing under the bedsheets
afterwards. Children need to learn about the world they will grow up into
and reading adult books is certainly one good way of doing this. But if I
was giving a child a present, or recommending a book to a child, and
especially if I was choosing a book to read aloud to a child I would
probably want to choose a children's book, because it would be more
appropriate to the situation. For example, a child might really enjoy
reading a book with sexual references in it, but might feel very
embarrassed or threatened if an adult was reading these sexual passages
aloud to it. Similarly, if I was looking for a present for a young teen of
my acquaintance I would chose a YA book, rather than a children's one
which they might feel was too babyish & denied their total personhood and
mature standing as an almost-adult or whatever, or an adult book that
might contain content of which the teen's parents didn't approve. So I
feel that the distinction of whether a book is children's, YA or adult is
a useful one.


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