Remember when your child used to ask you to read them a bedtime story? Well, most likely your bedtime stories simply entailed innocent princesses, three bears, or an evil witch here and there. Yet years have gone by and they’ve learned to read on their own and selected books that differ greatly in comparison to the books they read as tiny tots. Recently teen novels have become more graphic, depicting drug usage, strong language, and underage sex. This comes from a world where teens are “growing up” faster than ever before, being more exposed to these types of things at an earlier age than in previous decades.
However, with all these new novels, it’s hard for parents to keep track of what their teens are reading. It isn’t necessarily what teens are reading that cause parents to fret, but how the story will influence their children’s viewpoint of a certain topic. Books are powerful in the sense that they can have a serious impact on the reader, changing one’s ideas and beliefs.
Some books have stirred controversy amongst parents throughout the years due to its explicit content. One such book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a story about a shy freshman dealing with the trials and tribulations of high school on his own. “The Perks” is known for containing touchy topics such as molestation, suicide, drugs, and homosexuality. Most parents would feel uncomfortable talking about any of these topics with their own children, much less having them read about them in detail. According to a parenting poll on Yahoo, sex and drugs/drinking/smoking are the top two toughest topics to discuss with their teen. Nevertheless, just because parents disapprove of these novels doesn’t mean that authors will stop writing them, and publishers will stop publishing these books. And admittedly, not being allowed to read the novel makes it all the more tempting for me to read. On the other hand, I do understand why my mom doesn’t want me to read the book. It does contain content I otherwise I would not have read when I was younger. Since then, I have thought of some ideas that may convince my mom to let me read the book, and hopefully these could work for you too!
Here are some tips if your teen wants to read a book that you’re not so sure is completely appropriate for them:
1) Read the novel your child wants to read to see what the novel’s about. You can’t decide whether the novel is really inappropriate for them or not by just reading the back of the book. It may not be as bad as it seems. Remember “don’t judge a book by its cover!”
2) When reading the novel, take into consideration your child’s maturity level, and how you think they’ll handle the content in the book. Will they be able to handle it, or is it just too much, too soon?
3) Another idea is to read it together, and if there are any topics you feel you need to discuss or explain further, talk about it with your child. Maybe talk about the pros and cons of the topic, and you can also talk about a certain character. Talk about what they did right or wrong, and what they could have done better. My mom always does this with me after we watch a movie together, which is kind of irksome, but for my benefit as well. J
Well, happy reading and hope all goes well! J