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Empowering Parents: The Importance of Choosing Clean Fiction for Teenagers

As a parent, choosing books for your teenager can be a difficult task. You want to find books that are both engaging and appropriate for your child's age and maturity level.

Here at PirateCat, we believe in the importance of teens reading clean fiction, which is free of explicit content, overly graphic violence, and profanity.

In today's post, I want to talk a little about the importance of parental guidance in what teens read, including how parents can find clean fiction for their teenagers, and some tips for having conversations with their teenagers about the themes and content in the books the teens are reading.

The Importance of Choosing Clean Fiction for Teenagers

The content that goes into your teens' mind can have a huge impact on shaping their choices for the future. Stories, especially, have a way of burrowing deep into the heart and mind of a reader, and can be hugely impactful. The impact of a compelling story can remain for years, or even for a lifetime. This is great if the story is one that builds up, one that promotes healthy choices and growth and positive examples of relationships, etc. But it also means that stories which promote unhealthy choices and relationships can have a lingering impact on teen readers, as well.

As parents, it's our job to provide guidance to our kids... even when (or perhaps especially when) they're rapidly approaching adulthood and beginning to tackle more complex and long-lasting life choices and situations. This is why it's so important to be proactively involved in the choices for what your teenagers are putting in their hearts and minds, and clean YA fiction is one way of ensuring their hearts and minds are protected (and appropriately guided) during the very impressionable teen and adolescent years.

But even if you believe in the importance of choosing clean fiction for your teens, how do you find those books?

How to Find Clean Fiction For Your Teens

Option 1: Search curated lists and databases

When it comes to finding clean YA fiction for your teenager, you can start by researching online for lists of clean fiction books. Some bloggers compile such lists, and sites like Goodreads allow users to add books to curated reading lists as well. By searching for clean YA fiction lists, you can find some great suggestions that have been pre-vetted by whoever curated the lists... just keep in mind that not everyone has the same standards for "clean."

Option 2: Check reviews online before purchasing or reading a book

Some popular websites for finding clean fiction books for teenagers include Common Sense Media, Plugged In, and Focus on the Family. On these sites, you can read parent reviews for books, so it also works for looking up books you might considering, to get insight on the content before you purchase or read the book.

Option 3: Pre-read all books before giving to your teens

This option is obviously time-intensive, but can be very worth it. Not only will you know exactly what your teens are reading, but you will actually be able to discuss the stories with them--a huge bonus! Obviously, this may not work for every situation, and older teens will likely be seeking out their own independent reading material and will need to employ some of the other search options on this list, but it's a great one for younger teens or pre-teens, especially. (Right now, everything my husband and I allow our 12-year-old to read has been either personally pre-screened by myself, or recommended by a highly trusted friend who has personally read it.)

Option 4: Ask for recommendations!

One great way to find clean YA books is by asking other like-minded parents (or trusted librarians) for recommendations. I actually created a whole Facebook group for this purpose a year or so ago (it's called Clean YA Reads--you can find it by clicking that link if you're interested). While I've gotten busy and haven't been able to post new ratings/reviews/recommendations recently, there are quite a few there in the group already... and group members are welcome to post their own recommendations in the group albums! I created that group after hearing from many parents that they were struggling to find clean reads for their teenagers, so the goal for that group was to create sort of a hivemind of sharing good, clean book recommendations for teens.

Option 5: (our favorite option) Subscribe to PirateCat!

The question of how parents (and teen readers) can more easily find age-appropriate, clean fiction is literally the entire reason PirateCat was created. We wanted to create a portal where readers could safely browse, read, and interact on loads of great YA fiction, without worrying about explicit content in any of the stories.

We're still working to build that vision, but we already have more than thirty full books in our portal ready to binge, as well as dozens of short stories, some nonfiction, behind-the-scenes story content, and more.... and we're continually working to add new content, with plans to bring in even more clean YA authors as contributors to our portal in the future.

If clean YA fiction--and access to it--is a cause you believe in, we'd love to have your support via a monthly or yearly subscription. You can find out more on our Join page!

The Benefits of Parental Involvement in What Teens Read

Reading clean fiction books together as a family can have several benefits. It can be an excellent bonding experience, and it can also help you monitor what your teenager is reading. It can also be a great opportunity to discuss important topics and themes in the book. You don't necessarily have to read together at the same time, but reading the same books your teen is reading definitely provides a great starting point for some amazing conversations, and provides a shared experience to bond over.

These conversations can provide a lot of insight into what your teen is thinking, and may even open up the door for your teen sharing personal struggles or thoughts they may have otherwise felt uncomfortable discussing.

However, if for some reason you can't read what your teens read, you can still employ some of the tips above to ensure the content is age-appropriate and thematically appropriate for your teen.

How to Have Conversations with Teenagers about the Themes and Messages in the Books They're Reading

As a parent, it's essential to have open and honest conversations with your teenager about the books they're reading. This can help them understand the themes and messages in the book and how they relate to their own life experiences, while also showing teens that you value their thoughts and interests.

One way to start the conversation is by asking your teenager what they thought about the book, their favorite parts, or what they learned from it. If you're not reading along with your teen, you can ask them to tell you what the story's about, then ask questions to get them to open up about their favorite characters, pivotal moments in the book, what they liked or didn't like about the book, etc. You can then use this as a launching pad to ask your teen further questions about the characters and the choices they made, and how they relate to their own life experiences. For example, if the book deals with bullying or mental health issues, relationship issues, characters having to make very difficult life decisions, etc., you can use the story as an opportunity to discuss these topics with your teenager.

Books can be a great starting point for discussing more profound topics.

In conclusion...

As a parent, it's essential to choose appropriate and engaging books for your teenager. Clean fiction books are an excellent option for parents looking for books that are free of explicit content and language. By following these tips and having open conversations with your teenager about the books they're reading, you can help them develop a love for reading and promote their intellectual, emotional, and moral development.

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