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I was able to read and evaluate a scholarly article by Laretta Henderson regarding the styles and forms of young adult literature in Africa, and how those aspects of literature either help or hinder young adults in Africa’s abilities to effectively read and understand adult aimed literature as well. Within the article The Black Arts Movement and African American Young Adult Literature: An Evaluation of Narrative Style, the author makes an endless variety of arguments expressing her dislike for how young adult literature is created within African texts, and furthermore, how those particular differences may not be fueled by the authors themselves, but more so by the contributors of those novels including people like editors/publishers and critics.

As she evaluates the issues within African young adult literature, she makes the very clear statement explaining, “To believe that authors bear the sole responsibility for their texts is to
allow editors and publishers, who are usually European American, to
remain invisible” (Henderson, 313). It is with this that I begin to critically consider who may be deemed responsible for the lack of true diversity within other international regions of young adult literature. With the argument of who is in the most control of the content of young adult novels in Africa, she uncovers a variety of different responsibilities and factors that go into what publishers and editors must keep in mind when putting literature out on the market. From an ethical, business, and purely entertainment based standpoint, young adult African books must pass a seemingly endless list of criteria in order to do well on the market. As a result of these things, Henderson argues that young adults within African countries are inevitably unable to effectively understand adult literature when they get older because the literature they consume at their high development periods is so skewed in order to be effective in the market (Henderson, 2005).

It is with the reading of this article that I can not help but to consider how much of international young adult literature is truly emulating the real, hearty cultures of the people in which the literature is intended for. With that, I also am left to consider how much Euro/American influence is being unnecessarily implemented and essentially forced into international works intended for the young adult audience. Considering Henderson’s arguments evaluating how the results of the extremely formulaic, nearly linear narration line of African young adult literature, it is quite shocking to really consider how much of an influence that other cultures pose on the abilities of international literature to succeed. Just to think of how much of the view of African culture we are missing out on in these young adult pieces is a very monopolized, and even disrespectful way of oppressing the culture of Africa. Especially in regard to a young adult of which should be empowered to embrace and share their culture with the world. The idea of adjusting and limiting international literature pieces is surely something that I will keep in mind when exploring international texts in the future. Every culture should be celebrated, and shared with the world, and in no sense should young minds be hindered from appreciating and fully respecting African culture, or any other culture around the world for that matter.

Works Cited

Henderson, Laretta. “The Black Arts Movement and African American Young Adult Literature: An Evaluation of Narrative Style”. Children’s Literature in Education, vo. 36, no. 4, Dec. 1 2005.

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