Having two teenage daughters of my own, I have been trying to increase our church library's teen/tween section. My older daughter likes historical, Biblical, and fantasy fiction. My younger likes just about anything, but really enjoys fairy tales and fantasy. Today's market abounds with these categories. I do not have time to pre-read everything they want to read, and they are now of ages that I trust them to put aside completely inappropriate material.
In an effort to provide good reading material for the teens and tweens of our church, I purchase only titles from Christian publishers. However, I am becoming increasingly dismayed at the worldly writing that is being allowed by Christian publishers. I understand that some authors might be trying to appeal to non-Christians and that the book may end with a positive message for them, but sometimes it doesn't even feel as though I'm reading a Christian novel at all! I want to give kids better choices than what their school library has to offer, and some of these "Christian" books are not much better alternatives!
If I have to get titles from the public library and pre-read them before buying, then adding books to our collection will be a long process. I don't really know of anyone who can help preview them with me. Reading reviews help, but not everyone judges content in the same way. It's time-consuming to wade through hundreds of reviews to find someone who reveals the aspects of the book's content that you're looking for.
What do you all do?
First of all do not get discouraged. I have worked on securing quality books for Teens/tweens for a few years. It takes time and patience. I have read all of the books that I recommend. I am not a big fan of the fantasy books, so I do not have a lot, but I'll share what I have. I have also attached a Word Document with 4 pages of recommendations for tweens. They include secular books which is fine in my opinion as they have a good story base without swearing. I am also Chairman of the Rodda Award for the organization Church & Synagogue Librarians Association. I have 11 titles of books that have been nominated for 2016. I would be happy to share that list as well.
Kingdom's Series by Chuck Black (good vs evil)
London Snow by R. K. Mortenson
Chronicles of Naira by CS Lewis
Matterhorn the Brave series by Mike Hamel
Spiderwick Chronicles series by Tony DiTerlzzi
Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Desperado Detective Agency by Sheila Turnpage
If You're Reading This by Trent Reedy - Rodda nomination
Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan
Thanks for the list of books. Our JF section is abysmally outdated and I would love to get some modern titles in there. I have read several of them. I think it's okay for appropriate books to be in the library even if they aren't overtly Christian.
I understand your frustration. My librarian friend and I have had the same problem in finding books for our church library. Here are a few suggestions:
The Anomaly series by Krista McGee (dystopian, with a Christian underpinning)
Threshold series by Christa Kinde
Robin Jones Gunn's books for teens (Christy Miller series, Sierra Jensen series, Katie Weldon series)
Melody Carlson's books for teens
Peretti's Cooper Kids series
Rock Harbor Search and Rescue by Colleen Coble
The Homelanders series by Klavan
Dreamhouse Kings by Robert Liparulo
We also have a "Classics" section in our library, where we have not only traditional classics (Little Women, for example) but also "secular" fiction which we consider to have literary value and which models, in some way, the character qualities which we, as Christians, want to uphold. This area includes such titles as
The Cricket in Times Square
The FAmily Under the Bridge
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Tale of Desperaux
The All of a Kind Family
The Goose Girl
Emily's Runaway Imagination
My Side of the Mountain
The Wind in the Willows
This area doesn't get as much traffic as I would like, but we promote it when we can.
Celia, your concerns are certainly great. You've had some great replies. I have ladies who read our Christian fiction for adults and let me know if there is anything included that we would not want them in our church libraries. It's good to have readers for the other age groups as well if you have someone whose opinion you value. We should keep in mind that our church libraries are the only libraries where parents can send their children and let them know that anything they find is OK.
Let me tell you about an author I discovered about a year ago. Melanie Dickerson is a wonderful Christian author who writes fiction books based on fairy tales. Teenagers and young adults would enjoy her books.
In a few days you will find on the main page of this web site a new list of suggested books for ages 8-ll. All information is given included title, author, publisher, copyright date, Dewey number and subject headings.
There are also lists for various age groups for the past few years. Take a look at those lists.
I have seen in church libraries where their fiction section contained books with all the four-letter words marked out to make them OK for a church library. That's against copyright. There is enough Christian fiction out there (and I agree that we must be careful with that) that we don't need to look at the secular titles.
Thank you for your determination to make church libraries different!
Thank you for the list you worked up for all of us! It is so helpful and much appreciated. There are several I want to check on maybe getting for our library. Life Way now has a pre-buy on Priscilla Shirer's first novel for youth called The Prince Warriors. It is written to teach 8-12 year olds about spiritual warfare. I believe it will be a series. Thanks again for all you do.