Sexual Content in Young Adult Literature

Reading between the Sheets

By (author) Bryan Gillis, Joanna Simpson

Hardback - £61.00

Publication date:

10 February 2015

Length of book:

194 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442246874

Though discussing sexual material in novels aimed at the young adult market may make some individuals blush, the authors of such fiction often seek to represent a very real component in the lives of many teens. Unfortunately, authentic and teen-relatable information on healthy adolescent sexuality is not readily available, and sex education classes have had a minimal effect on positive sexual identity development. Consequently, young adult literature that contains sexual elements can play a critical role in addressing the questions and concerns of teens.

Sexual Content in Young Adult Fiction: Reading between the Sheets, Bryan Gillis and Joanna Simpson examine sexual material in canonical, historical, dystopian, romantic, and realistic contemporary fiction for teens. The authors begin with an exploration of sexual identity development and discuss the constructive influence that realistic representations of teen sexual behavior can have on that development. The authors provide a myriad of texts and examples that will help parents, teachers, and librarians better understand the positive role that sexual content in YA fiction can play in the socio-emotional and academic development of adolescents. The book concludes with an overview and analysis of censorship in the world of young adult fiction.

In addition to providing a survey of sexual content in young adult literature, this book can help inspire adults to facilitate effective and responsible discussions about young adult fiction that contains sexual material. Featuring a "novels cited" and "works cited" bibliography,
Sexual Content in Young Adult Fiction is an important resource that parents and educators will find particularly valuable.
The idea that literature provides a safe place for exploration is the primary argument of this study of young adult works. Although sex is a common theme in YA, it is seen as taboo in many places. The authors begin by discussing the sexual identity development of young adults and the role of a constructive understanding of sexual relationships. While analyzing works from many famous authors, from Shakespeare to Suzanne Collins, the authors present examples of sexual innuendos, scenes, and moments in classic and popular literature. They provide excerpts and synopses of the sexual material in canonical, historical, dystopian, romantic, and realistic/contemporary fiction for teens. Taking time to thoroughly explain the sexual content in over 50 popular works of young adult literature (YAL), the authors give teachers and librarians a reason not to skip over these important teachable moments for young adults. Gillis and Simpson shed light on the benefits of including the sexual content of YAL during class discussions. Although they are proponents of intellectual freedom, the authors honestly explore the challenges to the inclusion of sexual content in many collections. They present both sides and usually end a point by asking pertinent questions or relaying their opinion on the subject, leaving readers the chance to agree or disagree with their points of view. Verdict: A must-purchase for all middle and high school professional libraries, especially where schools are experiencing book challenges based on sexual content.