Friday, April 7, 2017

Week 13 Prompt

When I was in the 8th grade I made the basketball team. This was a bit of a surprise to everyone, me included. I liked playing basketball and, thanks to a recent growth spurt, I wasn’t terrible at it – but I wasn’t the second coming of Rex Chapman. (I’m from Kentucky. All basketball players were compared to Rex Chapman.) Plus, I had different interests than the rest of my teammates. I was the theater kid. I didn’t listen to what was popular. I preferred to spend my time on bus trips (and occasionally in practice) reading books. 

Anyway, to get to the point, the boys and girls teams would often play doubleheaders so we would travel to away games in the same bus. On these trips everyone brought their Walkmans and would spend the majority of the trip talking (girls in the front of the bus and boys in the back) or sharing music. I had gotten teased for an album I was listening to. “Nerd music,” one of my friends called it. (I should add that the ribbing was all in good fun. I was teased as much as anyone else on the team – and I have always felt very grateful that I grew up where I did.) So I was sitting in my seat, alone, reading a book and listening to my “nerd music” when the undisputed prettiest girl in our class walked over to me down the center aisle of the bus and asked if I had the new Michael Penn tape. She asked if she could hear it and promptly sat down next to me. She had a splitter so we both plugged in our headphones into my bright yellow Walkman and listened to my “nerd music.” We ended up listening to side A, side B, and side A again – pausing and talking multiple times - before our bus pulled into the parking lot of Murray Middle School. It was the highlight of my 8th grade year. Afterwards quite a few of my teammates bought their own copies of my “nerd music.”

I learned a valuable lesson that day: Don’t be embarrassed about what you like. So, to get to the question at hand, yes – we should absolutely serve adults who enjoy YA literature and graphic novels and, frankly, anything that can be found in our library. I can’t even fathom not doing that! And how do we work to ensure that we serve them? Simply by serving them. I think if we bring attention to the fact that reading YA or graphic novels are not legitimate literary choices for an adult (which is totally bunk) than we risk alienating our patrons and making them feel bad or embarrassed which will, in turn, put a big ol’ damper on their reading enjoyment. Everyone should feel free to listen to his or her “nerd music” or read his or her “nerd book.” Who cares what other people think? If an adult comes up and asks for help finding a YA book than the response should be, “Sure. No problem. What kind of YA book are you looking for?” The same goes with Graphic Novels and anything else in our collection.

My wife is a professor of theology. She has a PhD from a prestigious university. And she loves reading YA novels. Woe be unto the librarian who tells her it’s not a legitimate literary choice!

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful, insightful prompt response. I loved your opening story! I couldn't agree more! Full points!