When I was about 10, I was fascinated by the books that featured a college-age Nancy Drew -- you know, the ones where she made out with boyfriends and stuff. My mom didn't want me to read them, but I'd stash them away in my room somewhere and sneakily read them under my covers with a flashlight. They were such a thrill to me!
|In hindsight, my mom was probably right to say this wasn't worth reading.|
Young adult fiction was one of the first outlets I had for thinking about my own sexuality as a teen. I'm guessing this may be true for others of you out there, too. Yet recently in the news is a Queens mother who successfully pressured her son's school into removing Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which our own Kate recently read and reviewed) from its required reading list, all because it (briefly) mentions masturbation. In fact, she dismissively referred to the award-winning novel, which tackles other tough issues such as poverty, racism, and alcoholism, as "Fifty Shades for kids."
Kelly Jensen at Book Riot does an excellent job breaking down this issue further, and also provides a list of YA books that explore sex in some way, ranging from the consensual to sexual abuse to prostitution. As a future high school English teacher, I fully intend to incorporate (when appropriate) books that address sexuality into my curriculum, or at least not to disinclude them for that reason.
And to that worried mom in Queens, I would suggest that your son probably already IS curious about sex, and although it may be awkward to have those conversations with him, YA fiction can help lay the groundwork in an important and healthy way.
But what do YOU think? Is sex ever appropriate in novels intended for young adults? If you have kids, or intend to in the future, do you/will you monitor what they read for "mature" content?