I was at a book launch last week and I got to spend a few hours with some of my bookish friends and we got on the topic of what makes a book YA and what makes it middle grade. Which then led us on to what books can mention in this specific age categories.
First of all I was shocked to hear that some people in publishing think a books should be categorised as adult or older YA purely because it mentions a girl starting her period. Yes her period! It took me a while to process this. I mean they do realise that girls can start their period before they even hit their teens. I was 12 when I start mine and it may have gone a lot of hell smoother if I was able to read about it in all the books I was reading. An adult is not going to need to read about protagonists starting their periods. Trust me it a part of monthly life for them but young girls need to know that it is normal and isn’t a taboo to speak about it.
Working in a school allowed me to observe girls worrying and being embarrassed about their periods. I saw them try to shyly ask to go to the loo even though one of our rules is no one can go during lessons without a medical reason. To try and ask to go to change without broadcasting it to the class can be humiliating. Mostly because we are brought up to believe that it should be something we keep to ourselves. Purely because we can’t hurt the sensitive disposition of the men around us. They can talk about sex and pretty much all body functions without a care in the world. But mention the word period and they start acting like ladies in those classic literature books that faint at the mention of blood.
It is utterly ridiculous! Women should not be afraid to talk about periods and the publishing world should definitely not be afraid to mention it in YA books. If anything periods are an important part of growing up and girls have the right to be able to read about them.
So what do you think? Do you agree or have I gone a complete unfounded ramble? I would love to hear our thoughts on the matter.
Follow me on: