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Parents Beware! Why Young Adult Books Are Harmful

Yep, you heard me right. Young Adult books can be very harmful to your child. Wait a minute! Don’t you write Young Adult books? Yes, I do. Let me explain.


I’m working my way through the book of Ephesians in my quiet time. A week ago, I came upon these verses in chapter five.

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Those verses really hit home to me. What a way of looking at life and what we read, or let our children read.

Content of Young Adult Books

If you look at young adult books and even middle grade you’ll find that they are filled with potty-humor. Jokes about bodily functions fill middle grade books, while young adult books often have explicit kissing, necking, fondling, and even sex scenes. This content is exactly what the Apostle Paul tells us not have even named among us.

At the same time, young adult books can have some of the best plots and writing around. They captivate both young and old readers. I can’t count the amount of adults who’ve said they prefer reading young adult books to adult books.

Do we throw the baby out with the bath?

The old saying don’t throw the baby out with the bath comes in play here. Think on it, do you tell your children they can’t read any young adult books? Most kids will immediately go grab more young adult books just because you said, ‘no’. So, instead of issuing a moritorium on young adult books, start by reading what your child’s reading. We did this when Harry Potter came out. Our kids wanted to read them, but we’d heard the hub-bub from the conservative circles. With that in mind, we told them they couldn’t read the books until they had a discussion with us. I then spent a night and read book three. Don’t ask me why I started with book three and not one, but that’s where I started. Nevertheless, I was able to gain my own understanding of the book before discussing it with our kids.

Training your child

Besides reading what you’re kids are reading, you can also train them to decipher what’s good and what’s not. Many people will say kids don’t know the difference. I beg to differ. I’ve seen too many junior high and high school students watch as an adult walks by or is in the room and turn to their friends and say, “turn off that music, it’s not school appropriate”. Kids know what’s okay and what’s not. Let’s just take that a step further.

Train your children to know this litmus test:

  • Is it clean?

Does the book have immorality? That’s a big word that refers to any sexual sins. The Greek word is where we get the word “pornography” from. In our current day and age, that’s one area that is rampantly available not only to adults but also to our kids.

  • Is it pure?

Purity is another area that the world says is old-fashioned. They mock those who are ‘goody-two-shoes’. In fact, that was one negative review of the Dragon Courage series, my characters were too good. I wanted to give examples to kids of what a good person looks like.

  • Does it praise greed?

Think of the classic Garfield comic strip; he hordes lasagna. Greed is more than just hording something; it’s the blatant desire for things you don’t have. When a character is willing to go to any means to get what he wants, that’s greed. Does a book have to be free of greed? No, but does it show greedy people in a good light? If so, then I’d say no.

  • Do the characters speak foolishly?

This silly talk doesn’t mean the characters can’t joke around. However, it’s the idea that the characters are portraying themselves in a foolish manner because of their speech. In anime it’s the type of character that would be called ‘baka’ because of his words.

  • Does it have crude joking?

Crude joking would include potty-humor as well as any form of joking that is off color.

Sources for Clean Young Adult Books

Even though you’ve taught your child the best way to rate a book, it’s still good to know there are resources out there that provide good wholesome books that your child and you can agree on and enjoy. Clean Indie Reads is one of those options. This site rates books on the same scale as movies and doesn’t allow anything over a PG-13 rating. Their fantasy sub-group is Fellowship of Fantasy. Their directory even has a listing of perma-free ebooks you can download right away. All you have to do is explore their menu. They’ll also be hosting a summer reading program for middle grade and young adult readers, and all the books on the list (80 so far) are all clean approved.

One final site to gain great books is from Realm Makers. I’ve just recently learned of them. One post mentioned that if “you love fantasy and sci-fi and love Jesus, then Realm Makers is for you”. They don’t have a book listing, but they do have a mobile bookstore. They also have a blog under the parent group Faith and Fantasy Alliance.

Most of the books listed on this site are from one of these three sources. A few of them are from my publisher days. When I was with Booktrope, Vox Dei was the faith-based site. I’ve kept in contact with those authors and share what they have coming out as well.

In my years of raising children, I learned to listen to my kids. Often my favorite books came from a teen saying, “Mom, you’ve got to read this!” Some of my favorite memories are reading books with my kids at the dinner table or listening to audiobooks together. A good source for clean audiobooks is Audiobook Edge Reader Discussion Group on Facebook. Cherish those moments together with your kids. Train them to be literary discerners. Do you have a way you deal with sorting through young adult books? I’d love to hear your ideas.

What's your take?