Thursday, June 10, 2010

Laura Miller kicks into high gear

Laura Miller knows how to talk about books and reading. And just when I was thinking I hadn't read anything by Laura Miller recently, I find not one but two articles by her on youth and books.

The first, in Salon, is called "Book owners have smarter kids." Really, the point of the article is that studies have shown that children with books in the home tend to do better in school and are less likely to drop out. Although Miller sets up a strange either/or relationship between owning books and visiting bookstores and libraries - "As homey as a bookstore or local library branch might feel to you or me, they can make other people feel insecure, out-of-place and clueless" - the truth of the matter is that access to print is the most important factor. For a good report on this topic, read America's Early Childhood Literacy Gap.

Miller also has an article on dystopian fiction for youth in the current New Yorker - "Fresh Hell." This is must-reading for anyone interested in fantasy, science fiction, and/or teen fiction. There are plenty of insights and comparisons, making this a good, meaty read.


  1. I read the article "Fresh Hell" the other night, and I was a little disappointed. Miller asserts that the Hunger Games, the games within the series, not the books, only make sense when viewed as an allegory to the teenage condition, especially high school. I saw the games as being a condemnation of reality television and the willingness of our society to overlook a multitude of sins in the name of entertainment. However, this would be an excellent article for a YA lit class, since it does a good job of covering a lot of sub-genres. I love dystopian novels, so I liked the article, but that point kinda struck me.

  2. I didn't look at Hunger Games as an allegory for the teenage condition either! Then again, I'm not the most analytical of readers - it never occurred to me that the virus "Noise" in The Knife of Never Letting Go is an allegory for the pervasiveness of the Internet. I just sort of dive into a book and surface when it's done. I was not a star lit pupil...

  3. I know, I didn't see the Noise in that context either. YA lit has come a long way...