So a writer friend of mine sent me this article. While I think the author really wants children to read and has good intentions, his all-or-nothing attitude is a bit extreme. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/pageviews/2012/01/against-walter-dean-myers-and-the-dumbing-down-of-literature-those-kids-can-read-h
He talks about dumbing down literature and YA being too insipid to read. I think for him, maybe (but not really), because he states that the reason for reading is to elevate. For me, that is not why I read; I read to get lost in a story. But I also think YA can still elevate; he obviously hasn't read the books about sacrifice, or the values/challenges of friendship and loyalty, or suicide, whatever. There are tons of YA books that focus on the hardships in life and don't dumb anything down. (I've never read these books but two that come to mind are Speak and 13 Reasons Why). I think if young adults are reading, that's pretty much all we can ask for. Take his example, about the kids in Brooklyn reading Walter Dean Myers. If they didn't read him, they probably wouldn't read anything. So how is reading WDM a bad thing? (I've never read any WDM, but I still think reading is better than not reading). Yes, it would be great for young adults to read the classics (they are called classics for a reason) but that's not always an option, and not all kids would understand them anyways.
He also talks about literature not just being words, but power, and a power that can be the readers' and the power to save. I think all these things can be (and are) in YA books. Maybe he has only read hearts and flowers books. But even in hearts and flowers books, I think readers can gain insight from them (especially since I intend my next book to be a "hearts and flowers" type book); for example, taking a risk can lead to something good, (even if that risk happens to be on romance) or breaking out of your comfort zone. These are all situations that happen in YA, but still need to be learned.
I think he's too black and white in his comments, and maybe even a little bit elitist about reading in general. What do you guys think?