These days it’s pretty hard for a moral person to find modern books to read. So many authors have decided every teen ought to be eager to have sex, enjoy gossip, be mean to others, or have shallow interests. Most books have swearing. When good Christian teens want to find characters who mirror their values, they usually have to turn to Christian literature. Unfortunately, you can’t always find those kinds of books in your school or public library.
Even when the books are hard to find, it’s important to make sure we’re comfortable with the books we’re reading. Everything we read goes into our minds and hearts, ready to influence us. It’s not easy to find moral mainstream books, but it isn’t impossible.
The first step is to set your standards. That way you know before you ever open a book what you’ll read and what you won’t read. Decide in advance what you’re going to do if you find yourself reading something that isn’t appropriate. Will you give it away, throw it away, or return it? (Of course, if you borrowed it, returning it is the only option.) Will you skip to the last page to see how it ends first, or will you stop reading right then and there? Will you write a polite letter to the author or publisher telling them how you feel or will you let it go?
What are your standards for the following problems often found in books:
Main characters who are celebrated for having bad standards
Most books have some people in them who are bad. The bad people usually create the conflict. In addition, some characters make bad choices, but learn the hard way it doesn’t pay. However, many teens want the main character to be basically a good person, even if he or she makes mistakes, because otherwise the book seems to celebrate immorality, and they don’t want the author to make immorality look acceptable or even admirable. Characters who mock morality and never learn that it is good are poor role models. As a reader, you need to be able to tell if the main character is going to learn a lesson or if the author is letting that character suggest bad is good. If the main character is mostly good, but other characters aren’t, what is the book’s attitude toward those bad characters?
Once you’ve decided what you’re willing to read, it’s time to start weeding out your bookcases. Look through your books and remove any you no longer feel comfortable reading or even having on your shelf. Imagine the Savior dropping in for a visit and wandering over to your bookcase. Is there anything there you would want to remove before He did that? Those are the books to get rid of.
If your shelves seem too empty now, set a reading budget to help you replace the rejected books. You may want to read them at the library first or look for Clean Read websites to help you know if the books are safe to read. Make a wish list of clean books and ask your family and friends to choose some of them as gifts for holidays. In no time at all, you’ll have a bookcase to be proud of.