While I’ve been thrilled to see the rise of diversity in books, both diverse in authors and diverse in characters, that diversity seems to hinge mostly on race and sexual orientation (among other issues). Which leads me to wonder: where is the diversity in terms of religion? It seems like outside of strict religious fiction, religious characters or deep discussion of religious beliefs is still restricted in “mainstream” “commercial” fiction books. So why aren’t there more religious books in YA fiction?
Don’t believe us that there is a problem? Here’s just one glaring example. Some of the book bloggers we simply love and adore refuse to read any fiction books that discuss religion. Now, first off, understand that I LOVE the blogosphere I’m part of. I’m obsessed with book bloggers! They are so fun to interact with because they are regular people who read for the pure love of it. And, of course, there’s also the fact that book bloggers tend to be more accessible then traditional media. However, I’ve noticed that a rather alarming amount of my Young Adult book blogger friends have a ban in their book review instructions stating that they won’t read any YA books dealing with religion. No matter what. Now we know most book bloggers are not paid and they do this for their own pure enjoyment so they are certainly entitled to read what they want to read, but still, it was shocking to me.
Next, I started to look at traditional media and realized many had the same ban– they wouldn’t look at any YA religious books. I have to imagine, if the media is doing it, then there’s probably some end game here. Ultimately, the media is pushed by what the public wants, right? That’s when we started to wonder. Is there something endemic going on here?
Are readers afraid to read religious books in YA? And if so, why?
Of course, I understand that some people may not want to read THE BIBLE, perhaps, but why wouldn’t someone want to read a book in the genre they enjoy (say, AHEM, Young Adult contemporary romance) with characters that have certain beliefs – even if they are different from the readers? Isn’t this what reading is all about? Isn’t it about broadening our horizons and learning about other places, other people, other lifestyles, and other cultures? So if that is all true, then why is religion in YA books so . . . taboo?
What do you think about religion in YA books? Share your thoughts here. I really want to know!