Friday, March 20, 2009

Gateway Drugs

I've been pretty harsh on Stephanie Meyers and the Twilight series.  Not because of her writing ability or because of the glittery vampires (okay, yeah, a little because of that), but mostly because of the message she was sending.  I don't want to beat that dead horse anymore.  Lots of people have beaten it way better than I ever could.  What I want to say is that in spite of my misgivings over Twilight, I owe Meyers a debt of gratitude.

It's my secret shame that half my family thinks books should either be used to even out wobbly tables or as camouflage for skeevy porn.  When my nephew was born, I started building him a book collection in the hopes that when he was old enough he'd have a worthy library and I could plant the seed of book lovin'.  I assumed my niece (step-niece but I only make the distinction to explain the age difference) was a lost cause.  She showed little interest in books even though every time I gave my nephew books, I gave her books too.  Until Twilight.  

Through my family grapevine I heard that she'd become addicted to Twilight.  I threw up in my mouth a little, but having been part of the Harry Potter craze, understood you can't fight a tween phenom.  If peer pressure is being used to push books, then bring on the social conformity  

Wednesday night we had a family get together to celebrate my sale.  Imagine my surprise when she came up to me to tell me that after she'd finished Twilight she read the other books I gave her.  She read His Dark Materials, and The Hunger Games and Thirteen Reasons Why and books I don't even remember giving her.  And even better?  She totally asked for more.  I'm going to introduce her to Neil Gaiman by way of Coraline and The Graveyard Book, and to E. Lockhart.  It's pretty exciting all around.  I could see in her the hunger to read anything and everything, and she was looking to me for direction.  I'm pretty well read and don't discriminate between "girl" books and "boy" books, but the books I read tend to be more testosterone laden.  I'm willing to take any suggestions for a thirteen-year-old girl.  I kind of feel like I have a responsibility here, and an opportunity.  I want to make sure I get the right books into her hands and turn her into a lifelong reader.

So to Stephanie Meyers and all her glittery creatures of the night I say:  Thanks.  You can stop writing now.

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