Welcome to 2017! I am wishing everyone a happy and healthy year. I hope all of your writing, reading, and personal goals become a reality or you get closer to obtaining them. I have a few to reach myself, my biggest one being to finish my book that I started in April of last year.
Instead of making a post about resolutions or a look back on my year, I thought I would add on to my young adult series by sharing a personal story. It’s a positive one and I figured we all couldn’t go wrong with some inspiration and good vibes.
Anyone who has gone to college or experienced education in any form knows a teacher can be a big influence as to whether a class is enjoyable or miserable, despite the material. One also knows how rigid a set curriculum can be, especially when it has been repeated time and time again or contains subject matter that doesn’t feel relevant to contemporary culture. I found myself thinking that a lot as I went through an education in humanities – reading books in the romantic and medieval era. I always managed to find one or two per lecture that I liked, but I also yearned to read something current. They could be equally discussed and valued as literature from previous centuries.
It was why I was intrigued when I was signing up for classes and I saw a seminar in Young Adult and Children’s literature. With a handful of praying and violent clicking, I secured myself a spot in the class. There were only twenty spots so you could say I Hunger Gamed it out.
I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the class. I knew some freshman were assigned to read The Hunger Games or Perks of Being A Wallflower (books I highly recommend). I had no idea what upperclassmen would be assigned. It turned out that when I saw the syllabus, my hopes were instantly ignited. Some of the books on the list were Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The class experimented with picture books, graphic novels, long works, short works. My teacher did her best to not only demonstrate her love for books geared towards younger audiences, but also the different kinds of outlets that existed other than full fledged novels. She even had a guest speaker come to our class to push for diversity in literature since the numbers were not looking good.
Going to that class was always something I looked forward to because I knew the book would be worth reading and the class discussion would be alive. The class also became a therapy session, some of my peers and myself, venting issues and personal stories that remained in the classroom. It became a space that was inviting and comforting. We learned a lot about each other, but also about the variety of texts that were out there.
I was exposed to young adult books for quite a while, but for others in my class, it was their first time. They were blown away by how much creativity went into these books. I’ll use the example of Wonderstruck which was told with both full fledged illustrations and texts, the storytelling intersecting to create a cohesive children’s tale. I will also mention A Monster Calls that though had text accompanying photos would not be the same without the illustrations. The illustrations gave the story even more of a pulse. These books became the medium of which we were able to learn about the publishing world and ourselves.
My teacher had a firm belief that if children and teens were given the right books, it could make a difference in their lives and how they developed as adults. She fought for this class to be possible because she believed there needed to be more offered than standard literature classes. And my writer friends, she won, because of her passion and drive. But not only that, she made a hell of a lot of friends along the way. She was more than a teacher. She was someone who inspired, someone who challenged one’s thoughts and opened their eyes to literature.
The reason for sharing this memory of my seminar was because just because a book is geared towards a younger audience doesn’t mean its worth suddenly goes out the window. Sometimes, we need to reawaken the kid in ourselves or maybe find something that needs maturing that we didn’t even know about. Sometimes, we need one person to show us something even if we protest or are uncertain.
Not to mention for children and teens who are struggling, a book could be the key to easing a burden, solving a problem.
So when I say I love young adult books, I think back to all the books I’ve read, but I also look back at this class that I took in college, where my mind was broadened even further and I found a teacher who understood exactly how I felt.
Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep creating.