The Bluford Series Is Very Traditional

Special thanks to author Dr. Vanessa Irvin Morris, author of the popular Street Literature blog and The Reader's Advisory Guide to Street Literature for posting this interview of author Paul Langan!

For those who are critical of the popular Bluford Series (Townsend Press), please read the following response.  In a 2011 New York Times interview, author Paul Langan explains why tweens and teens are so drawn to his books.  It's time to wake up everyone and recognize our tweens and teens need to read stories that reflect themselves, neighborhoods and challenges in their lives.

New Bluford Series releases, "Promises to Keep" and "Survivor" by Paul Langan

This portrait of the Bluford Series is incomplete. While the series does depict tough issues that urban teens encounter in their lives, there is much much more going on.

The Bluford Series celebrates family, friendship, and civility. Characters in the books are complex human beings, not stereotypes or caricatures. They are vulnerable and insecure. They have fears and anxieties as well as strengths. Some are honor students; others are caretakers for their siblings or ill grandparents. A few work to support their families while also going to school. All of them face difficulties that young people encounter in their lives. Each must wrestle to make good choices even when those choices are not popular or easy or obvious. Readers can relate to this; they do it everyday - or at least they try to.

Watch kids reading the series, and you will see young people concentrating on complex moral questions. You will see them comparing what they read to what they have experienced. You will see them on the edge of their seats rooting for a character to save a peer, help a family member, or avoid a pitfall. In short, you will see young readers absorbed in the written word. This is why the Bluford Series exists: to get kids reading - to give them that magic experience of being totally absorbed in a book.

To achieve this, I made choices to keep the books meaningful, relevant, and exciting. But at the core, the Bluford Series is very traditional. It speaks to issues of the heart - only in this case that heart includes diverse teens, an audience often on the outside looking in when it comes to books.

No comments:

Post a Comment