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Moral Messaging in Young Adult Literature

The history, importance, and application of moral messaging in young adult literature.

Dana Musulin

on 19 September 2012

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Transcript of Moral Messaging in Young Adult Literature

Moral Messaging & Young Adult Literature
Explanation Moral:
Expressing/conveying truths and principles of right conduct Messaging:
Communication involving information Moral messaging is a tool used to convey messages, rules, lessons, etc. to young readers, aiding in their development according to the author's viewpoint. Morals can be used to convey a point or sway a decision. More about Morals Morals in young adult literature are often more complex than those in children's literature.
Require discussion in order to reach full comprehension.
Can touch on many different aspects. Morals can be straightforward or backward. History of Young Adult Literature When did this issue begin to have a noticeable impact on young-adult fiction?
Since the first piece of young-adult fiction was written “moral messaging” became a part of the genre.
Young adults were first recognized as a distinct group in 1802, by Sarah Trimmer in The Guardian of Education 1st YA fiction book: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in 1951 What events have influenced the way YA writers deal with moral messaging?

Events throughout history can both bring certain moral messages to light, and/or they can serve as settings in which the YA writers can base their stories to get across other moral messages.
Civil Rights Movement 1950s-1960s- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Columbine Massacre 1999- Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser (2001) Moral Influences What people?
Parents, school boards, teachers, religious groups What ideas outside the realm of literature?
Religious, cultural, and political ideas Challenged
Moral Categories Occult/Satanism Homosexuality Religious Abortion Challenged Books Gossip Girls series by Cecily von Ziegesar Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Banned Books Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Does Moral Messaging Matter?
YES Right and wrong happens (around) 4 or 5. More complicated morality kicks in around age 11. And then, puberty makes things even more complicated...In fact, your frontal lobes aren't developed until 25. They're the part of you that makes you human, controlling judgment, forethought, rick-assessment. (From Understanding 'Hunger Games') Moral Pros Help readers find their moral voice (Rita Manning)
Morals in literature can make up for a lack of teaching/guidance
Reinforcement of the morals in children's books
Come at a time when YAs are faced with increasing moral dilemmas
Development of personal identity
Need different moral lessons than adult books Moral Woes Possibility for misunderstanding
No moral consensus: Different morals in different cultures etc.
Parents might not want authors teaching their children
Some books in the YA cannon not originally intended for YA and therefore have morals that are too complex/mature
Potential for prompting controversial/uncomfortable conversations
Plant seeds Does moral messaging in books really help young adults learn lessons or do they need to experience them first-hand in order for them to settle in? Can you think of any examples from your own life? With so much violent and explicit material in YA literature should we be focusing on moral messaging? Do we need to pick our battles? How should the books/morals taught be determined? By who? Examples of
Moral Messaging Lord of the Flies: “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything” (42).

A Wrinkle in Time: “We were sent here for something. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (190).

To Kill a Mockingbird:“‘Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,’ Atticus said. (86).
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