Book Choice, Part Two : The Challenge

September 14, 2022


As students continue this independent book choice adventure, questions will increase, not only about how to choose good ones but also about avoid bad ones. This has always been a challenge for parents of avid readers, because it's nearly impossible to read everything ahead of these kids! And as all of our students are reading this way this year, we're all going to be faced with this challenge. So...

What to do?

First, know that there is not lack of good books available. and there are ways for diligent parents to fnd them and get them into kids' hands! I spoke all about this in my previous post, but I'm highlighting it again so we don't feel discouraged!

Second, though, some of the strongest current trends in children's and young adult literature are ones that I know CHESS parents will absolutely want their children to avoid. Many times these are obvious, but many, many other times, they are extremely pernicious. 

For instance, these look fun, right?

However, they both feature LGTBQ themes. Would you have guessed? Even a cursory glance at the descriptions might not clue you in! Even further, Meow or Never is the second book in the series, and the first book doesn't have any such content, so it would be very easy to assume that it was a "safe" series.

This underscores a crucial point: never assume

Don't assume that just because one book is good or appropriate, others in the series will be. 

Don't assume that just because you've read and loved a book or series by a particular author, you will find other books by that author to be acceptable. Rick Riordan, Reina Telegmeier, and Shannon Hale are among authors I love and SOME of whose books I would recommend. But I would never tell a student they should read everything by any of one of them, or by any other author, and I would highly encourage parents to take care with that as well. Seriously, no matter how sure you are of an author, always stay on guard. I'm sorry - that's just the way it is!

Don't assume that because you've always been an easy-going family with book standards and your kids have handled it well...that this will always be the case. I've been reading new children's and YA books for a fairly long time, and I've read a LOT of them in many different formats and genres. I can assure you that unless you've also been keeping up with the latest trends, you may be very unpleasantly surprised by some of the themes that are finding their way into books and series now. 

PLEASE: look before you let your kids leap!

Don't assume, on the flip side, that because you're a strict family with very firm boundaries that hard and fast rules about where you get your books will keep them from being exposed to anything you find objectionable (or, for that matter, that your kids will never need to know how to handle encounter objectionable ideas or information). The classics are not all particularly "safe." Christian fiction does not always represent the truth well. Just because something is devoid of anything "bad" does NOT mean that it actually has merit of any kind. Even some pretty conservative homeschool companies may have differing standards about what it is acceptable in a book and what isn't - and you might not always agree.

No matter what kind of family you are, it is critical for you and your children to think about what they are reading, why they are reading it, and how to evaluate and process information that is not the truth or is even just a different idea of the truth. There's just no way around it - diligence is required of parents in this area! 

It is even required in regard to the CHESS library! It would be impossible for us to curate a library that met every family's exact standards, so I politely discourage anyone from suggesting that our library is "safe." 

Hang on - don't panic!

There are so many things that most of us do agree on, and I believe that given those agreements and expecations, our library is a good one! (Not to be cliche, but this reminds me of that great Narnia quote about Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: "Safe? Who said anything about safe?...But he's good.") At the same time, I encourage parents to evaluate the collection and their child's use of it regularly. I also encourage students to consider whether their choices align with their family standards AND with their own conscience. 

This isn't an easy path - there isn't any one list, library, curriculum, or individual who can give you all the "right" things to choose or avoid - but it is a wonderful and worthwhile journey!

You Might Also Like


About Us


Like us on Facebook

Popular Posts