This is the first of a three-part series on the importance of great literature for tweens and teens. Today I have the pleasure of turning this space over to a wise friend — one who gives much thought to the power of words and to the preparation of hearts. Lisa…
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
~Philippians 4:8 KJV
With twin boys who will soon cross the 15 year mark, I am constantly on the lookout for good reading material. The boys have always been voracious readers (we joke that our decorating style is Modern American Book, complete with shelving in every room), and through the years we had no problem finding great literature for our boys. Right up until they hit the tween and teen years.
That’s when we found out we’d have to really keep an eye out for good books. Because many books written for middle and high schoolers tend to focus on typical teen problems like identity, boy-girl relationships, drug use and bullying, they often introduce worldly concepts in the spirit of informing curious minds.
And while I have no problem with books dealing with issues, as a parent I really prefer to be the one influencing my kids. If I hand them books loaded with kids making risky choices or books that approve of ungodly behaviors, I feel as if I am condoning those practices. That’s why we’ve been really careful with what our kids read.
As my boys got older, I often pre-read books.Eventually I started skimming or spot checking books as well as scouring summaries and reviews. Now I trust my guys to choose their own books. We’ve discussed issues together, talked about what is appropriate and what isn’t. We’ve even discussed how to ignore small issues or to separate personal beliefs from an author or character’s point of view.
The reward? Boys who stop reading when they feel a book is too graphic, ungodly or over the top. In other words boys with wisdom and maturity to make their own good choices.
I’m not saying all my choices would be the same as the next person’s, but what I am saying is that it’s important for us to be involved and engaged in our children’s interior lives. It’s important to steer them toward what is right and good and worthy.
Providing our kids with worthy reading, discussing what is right and wrong and talking about why a book measures up or doesn’t is vital. Because that is how our kids will grow and mature as readers and as young men and women of faith.
Lisa Tiffin is a freelance writer and author who lives with her family in Upstate New York. In addition to numerous articles published in The Democrat & Chronicle as well as many local and national magazines, Lisa has authored literature study guides and several short stories for kids and adults. She is also the author of Theft of the Star Tracker, the first in a series of novels geared toward readers ages 8 to 14. Learn more at www.lisatiffin.com.