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Clean Fiction and Spirituality: How YA Novels Can Be Used to Launch Spiritual Conversations

Clean fiction for young adults has traditionally been associated with wholesome, family-friendly stories. However, it can also be a great venue for exploring the morality and spirituality, introducing young readers to new perspectives on how their spiritual beliefs can be tested in various scenarios, what faith looks like in action, and far more.

While not all clean books are necessarily Christian books or overtly religious books (a topic I plan to address further in a future post) and not all clean authors are necessarily Christians or even religious, there is definitely an overlap among Christian writers/other religious writers and those who choose to write clean fiction. (Because, generally, there is some kind of underlying belief system that has driven an author to write clean fiction... and spiritual beliefs are one such motivator.)

While many parents prefer their children read stories in which the characters' beliefs are similar to their own (which I totally understand and lean toward myself), teens will almost inevitably encounter different beliefs, and these can also be rich opportunities for discussion and growth... with parental involvement and guidance, and to the parents' best discretion, of course.

These spiritually-rich reading experiences can help teens develop a better understanding of the world around them and preparation for living within it, since every person will eventually encounter people in life who do not share their exact beliefs, and will need to know how to navigate those differences with compassion and confidence.

When teens wrestle with spiritual concepts within the context of fictional stories and characters, those vivid, emotionally charged examples may enable them to process and understand concepts that might have been more difficult to grasp only in theory or even in the context of their own lives. (Sometimes we are just too close to a situation to see it clearly, and seeing a similar situation play out in fiction can provide just enough distance to be eye-opening... as with the scenario of David and Bathsheba in the Bible and the story the prophet Nathan used to illustrate to David the harm he had caused.)

Today, I want to explore a little about how clean YA novels can be used to launch spiritual conversations with teens... both if you agree with the author's core beliefs, and even if you don't.

Using Clean Fiction as a Catalyst for Spiritual Discussions

Many clean fiction authors are already exploring spiritual themes in their novels, because fiction naturally filters through the author's own worldview, and many authors use their fiction to communicate important themes and truths they wish to explore or share. These themes can range from traditional religious beliefs to more abstract concepts like mindfulness, gratitude, self-awareness... obviously, the themes and topics will vary based on the author's own beliefs and/or the topics the author chooses to include and address.

Because fiction intrinsically shows characters' beliefs playing out in different scenarios, books can be an amazing starting point for some really deep conversations.

If you're a parent...

You can use clean fiction with spiritual themes (overt or implied) to catalyze these important conversations. If the characters have differing beliefs from your own, you can discuss those differences and how that may have impacted the characters' choices. If the characters share similar beliefs to your own, you can discuss how the characters did or did not embody those beliefs in different situations within the book. Either way, this can be a source of rich discussion when used intentionally and proactively by parents.

And if you're a teen...

You may find that examples from the stories you've read provide the perfect launching pad for opening up discussions with your family or other trusted adults about how to live out your beliefs, what you believe and why, and how spiritual beliefs impact life choices... along with spurring your own deeper thoughts about those topics.

In conclusion:

Clean fiction can be a valuable tool for engaging deep thought about spiritual topics, and for launching important discussions about those beliefs. As young readers explore these themes and ideas, they are able to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them, and to solidify their understanding of how their spiritual beliefs can be put into action in their own lives.

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