Another Important Discussion for Diversifying Literature: Religion in YA

While reading the article “How to (Effectively) Show Support” by Dahlia Adler, I noticed a very curious link under point three of the article titled “Promote other people’s promotions.” It was a discussion of religious young adult books spearheaded by Karen Jensen and Ally Watkins in the School Library Journal. At first I was so excited by this possibility of discussion in religion that I almost didn’t believe it to be real.

But then, when I clicked the link, I was transported into an alternate universe where people didn’t avoid the topic of religion. Instead, it was embraced in a positive way, where people created art around these values and ideas. The Faith and Spirituality in YA Lit series (#FSYALit) is a brilliant and open discussion of literature for people of multiple faiths that simultaneously includes those who are undecided about faith or those who are of no faith. Leave it to the librarians to be absolutely wonderful.

Acording to the Teen Librarian Toolbox (TLT) website, the project goals are:

  • To facilitate a discussion about the ways various faiths are (or are not) represented in YA literature.
  • To examine specific titles and create lists of titles that those wanting to look for titles with diverse representations of faith can add to their collections (or buy for the teens in their lives)
  • To include a wide variety of voices on the topic of the spiritual lives of teens in YA literature

As a Christian (a member of the Church of Christ), I was excited to learn about titles such as Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester and Running Lean by Diana Sharples. I was also surprised to learn of Slate‘s article praising Christian YA novels (although, admittedly, it was a bit condescending at times). “Get Genrefied: Christian Fiction” on the Stacked website blew my mind and raised my awareness of how little I knew about the genre.

There are also discussions about young adult titles for Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and more.

To Karen and Ally and everyone who participated in this project, thank you for sharing your research and your knowledge. I am overwhelmed and grateful.


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