Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
Editor's note: If you are wondering about the book your child is reading, check out the internet. You can find out if the book has been banned or challenged and why. Beware--many banned and challenged books are required reading in the public school system! Just because the teacher sends it home doesn't make it suitable. If in doubt, read the book yourself.
There was a time when we could send our children to the children’s section of a bookstore, or even the teen section, and feel reasonably certain the books they chose would be appropriate for children. Unfortunately, today, money is more important than the mission to protect our kids, and books for children and teens are becoming more and more immoral. Some of them are books we, as Latter-day Saint adults, would not feel comfortable reading, and yet publishers are sending them to the children’s section.
Before purchasing a mainstream book for your children, and especially for your teens, read reviews, and consider reading the book first if you aren’t familiar with the author. Even authors who are normally safe might toss in a less appropriate book. Madeleine L’Engle, usually known for her Christian writing, has a book that includes a description of a young adult male having sex with a teenaged girl who is in the middle of a crisis and is highly vulnerable. Some of her later books also deal with homosexuality.
Because a book is listed as cautionary, such as the popular teen book called “Rainbow Party” by Paul Ruditus, doesn’t guarantee it’s a safe read. Before it gets to the cautionary part, there are reportedly graphic scenes of immorality. Claiming Geogia Tate is about a twelve year old girl. Children normally like to read about children two years older than themselves. This means the book is probably aimed at ten year olds, but is about incest. The Gossip Girls series and Teach Me are expected to be the talk of the teen scene this summer and are both to be avoided by moral teens, according to many reports.
According to Poynter Institute’s column, “Al's Morning Meeting,” publishers and bookstores are willing to risk angering parents because these immoral teen books are far outselling adult books. It’s all about money, and no one is watching out for your children this summer.
Talk to your children about the books they read. Accompany them to the bookstore and read the covers of the books they choose. Search out good reviews online to decide if the books they want are acceptable. Then read them before your child does. Books that cover deep subjects you want your child to know about should be read together.
There are wonderful books on the shelves for children, but today, it takes searching to find them. Don’t forget, as you search, that the LDS publishing market is beginning to pay attention to the middle grade readers and teenagers, and new books for LDS youth rival their mainstream counterparts for quality. This is a great summer to support the LDS book market and encourage future publication of great LDS books for kids and teens.