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We talked about Mason's quote where she says, "...the decisions of life are not simple, and to taboo knowledge is not to secure innocence. We must remember that ignorance is not innocence, and also that ignorance is the parent of insatiable curiosity." True. Wise parents will know when to expose their students to certain things and we must NEVER damage their spirit (Luke 17:2).
It appears that when talking about youth fiction in today's day and age (and many people I know just don't want to go there), there is plenty to avoid entirely. Even the better stories will be rife with broken families, ADHD, the 1960s and other subjects that may be jarring to you, especially if you've only used literature from the 19th century in your school. Then again, maybe not.
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On a practical note, Donna shared a few websites that can help you determine the type of contents in a book. If you've ever had a teen walk up to you with book in hand and asking, "Mom, can I read this one?", but you don't have time to read it yourself, these sites may help. The first site is Thriving Family and the second is Common Sense Media. I suppose you might use these like those movie ratings sites for families.
So, while Donna recommended some titles (hold on, I'm getting there!), we acknowledged that over the past 25 years, one would be hard-pressed to find youth fiction titles that we would use in our school. By that I mean titles that we would read, narrate and live with over 12 weeks that are full of moving characters and ideas. Do you know of any? Perhaps I am expecting this genre to be something it is not.
On the other hand, we have read some of these in our free time. Many have been the catalyst for some great discussions. Others I have just simply enjoyed. Or maybe we need to nurture and encourage some young writers in our schools who will grow up to write beautiful, perhaps culture-changing classics.
Here are some of the titles that were recommended. Please read first to see if these are suitable for your child! Do you have any titles to add?
1. The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - one of the few written about the Vietnam-era and a boy's middle school encounter with Shakespeare. Personally, it made me laugh out loud.
2. Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt - again, the 60s, with a back story of Audobon prints, Jane Eyre and dysfunctional families.
3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - unique, graphic-novel mix inspired by a real inventor.
4. When Your Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - NYC in 1979, A Wrinkle In Time plays a part.
5. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron - quirky and just what is the "higher power"?
6. The Lightning Thief by Ric Riordan - modern-day Percy get mixed up with the Greek gods in his mythology textbook.
7. Anything But Typical by Nora Baskin - from the point of view of an autistic boy.