Suzanne Collins Talks About the Power of YA Literature

The Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins was honored at the Author’s Guild Dinner and praised YA literature.

Suzanne Collins joined publishing professionals and fellow authors at the 24th Annual Authors Guild Dinner, which was held at the Capitale in Manhattan on May 25th, and was honored with the Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.  The award was to recognize her contribution to young adult literature with The Hunger Games trilogy, for having “demonstrated the power of children’s literature by tackling difficult potential and social issues in her immensely popular books,” as stated by the Authors Guild.

During the event, Collins had this to say about educating children on topics that are often difficult to discuss and the powerful influence that young adult literature has:

“All of these outings were part of a larger education in what is known as ‘just war theory’, which examines the morality of going to war — under what circumstances it can be deemed justifiable and the morality of conduct within it. Do I think this can be confusing for children?Sometimes. … My feeling about ‘just war theory’ is that it’s much less about understanding the nuts and bolts of battle than it is about examining ethical dilemmas. When are we as human beings capable of understanding this? My position is: much younger than we are given credit for. That’s my position, and in the words of Damon Runyon, ‘a story goes with it.'”

— Suzanne Collins

“I write for kids because childhood is where the foundation of our thinking is laid, and I want to be a part of that. I write for them because… I think the concepts of war — the realities, the politics, the ethical ambiguities — are introduced too late to children. These stories are written with the hope that if the whole idea of war were presented to people at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it. We would have a fuller understanding of its cost, and we would possibly find more nonviolent methods of conflict resolution as we head into the future.”

— Suzanne Collins

Hunger-Games-Trilogy

Author David Levithan (Every Day, Two Boys Kissing) was also in attendance, and he spoke about why Suzanne, and all other YA authors in general, are more than just the storytellers, but truth tellers as well.

“The people who challenge Suzanne’s [Collins] work dismiss it as being about ‘kids killing kids.’ And they say this as if we don’t train teenagers to fight other teenagers. As if society hasn’t been rigged to have our youth fight our dirtiest battles. Children dying in books is not a problem. Children dying in real life is a problem, and sometimes it takes books to point that out. That is why we need the truth tellers who are also storytellers and the storytellers who are also truth tellers.”

— David Levithan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Trials of Apollo author Rick Riordan was also in attendance and spoke about the importance of writing for kids:

“Why is writing for kids important? I don’t really have to look very far to see the reason. In this room, there are a lot of people who have shaped my life and the life of my children.”

— Rick Riordan

All in all, it was a good night for authors of children and teen books, and hopefully those bashers of our favorite genre can someday realize what we and these wonderful authors already know about YA.

To read more quotes from the authors, including children’s books author Norton Juster, read it here.

By Molly

Molly is a proud Canadian who is currently attending university in Scotland. She loves to read, write, watch films, and talk about Sarah J. Maas books. If not snuggled up with a book, Molly can usually be found tapping at the dance studio, or writing yet another essay.