I recently looked through a book called ‘Poems to Make Grown Men Cry’ and read the poem chosen by J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, Mission Impossible III and Star Wars: The Force Awakens among many others. (As an aside, should you be looking to find a way to promote poetry to teenagers the book has a few other poems chosen by men that teenagers can relate to and may even find inspiring.) The poem is called The Lanyard by Billy Collins and, if you read J.J. Abrams explanation of why he chose the poem and then read the poem, you cannot help but marvel at how it captures what a mother does for her child and how unaware a child can be. This would be a great poem to set off a display of books centred round Mothering Sunday.
In YA books parents tend, naturally, to take a secondary role. However, their influence is often still felt in the story and impacts on the actions of the main protagonists. So, whilst parents – and mothers in particular – seem to make teenagers groan with their embarrassing behaviour, out of touch views and endless rules, they are still an important part of a teen’s life. It may be that they won’t be fully appreciated or understood until much later in life, but they should never be overlooked.
What books would you put in the display?
The Absent Mother
There are a number of YA books that tackle the issue of a mother who has died or left and the impact this has on a teenager. My favourites are:
The Irresponsible Mother
Irresponsible mothers create plenty of opportunities for YA books – they enable YA protagonists to be exposed to and to experience exciting and unusual adventures. Often the irresponsible mother is an adult who has never grown up herself and sees herself more as her child’s friend rather than her parent.
The Sensible, Loving Mother
Sensible mothers are harder to come by in YA books. The ones I thought of tend to feature in the background of the stories but have set an example of love and selflessness that affects the YA protagonists view of life
If you feel strongly about a favourite Unsung Heroic Mother in Literature you could try this competition with Caboodle to win a £20 National Book Token.