There are young people eager to read about the supernatural, or about a dystopian future, or a girl needing a date to the prom. There are also people hungry to see their reality, edgy though it might be, on the pages. They like seeing themselves in a book. While more mainstream books are including POC (people of color) in the cast, its frequently in a sidekick role, and sometimes the portrayal borders on the stereotypical.
Urban Lit forces many of us out of our comfort zonesSchool Library Journal. Take a look at a sample list of Urban Lit titles for teens. YA titles in this genre usually keep sex and violence at arm’s length, and often include “warnings about the harmful consequences of destructive or criminal behavior.” Mostly, YA urban lit has teen appeal, and is hitting the desks of mainstream publishers as well as Indies. Best of all, reading Urban Lit can provide a springboard for moving non-readers into trying out other genres. As librarian and author Megan Honig said, “Gossip Girl and Street Lit have a lot in common.”
But the more I read of outstanding authors like Coe Boot, Sharon Draper, Walter Dean Myers, and Sharon Flake, the more I realized there are good and bad examples of the genre out there. A lot more of the examples are needed by kids who eat it up. I had one boy tell me his mother asked him if that was a picture of him on the cover of PULL. Several girls have mentioned picking the book out because of the "hot guy" on the cover.
With my second book, BEING GOD (my title, I don't know what the editor will want) is solidly Urban Lit, dealing with the issue of teen alcoholism. This and other books will be there for kids who want to see themselves and issues that are relevant to them.
As one librarian said, ‘It’s really just realistic fiction, right?”
Yes! These are books that come from someone’s reality!!
Do you agree? Have you read Urban Fiction? Comment and let me know your feelings.
Extra – Breaking NewsI will be part of a panel discussing unconventional romances in YA at the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents workshop as part of the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) on November 22, 2011. I’m excited to be part of a panel with authors Stephanie Perkins, Sara Zarr, and my personal idol, Simone Elkeles.
Last, but not least
Detailed information on the luncheon and instructions on how to request a specific author’s table, are available at her Readers Appreciation Luncheon Website.