David Mills’ article, “Bad Books for Kids:
A Guide to the World of Youth Literature & What You Can Do About It,” is one parents of teenagers should read. Mills is no simple reactionary and this
article is not a mere screed. Mills spent time investigating current popular
books (the article first appeared three years ago) and distilling the worldview
they present. You may not agree with all his points, but his overall assessment
is important and compelling.
Mills’ survey of current books leads
him to warn parents in several ways
may be surprised, if you don’t keep up on these things … how tawdry and
sometimes depraved are the kinds of books being offered to teenagers by the
major publishers and bookstores, and even the schools.”
such stories form the child’s imagination and behavior, as they undoubtedly do,
the average contemporary young adult “real life” book is a dangerous book.
After his survey he gives a very helpful analysis
of the portrait of life that emerges from these books, their picture of a “good
life.” He also gives several points of advice to parents in selecting books for
their children to read, including, “do not be afraid to upset your child by
telling him he can’t read something he really wants to.” There is really good
In his advice Mills makes this important and profound
your child in the worship of the Church and every other activity that can shape
his imagination as Christian because he acts it out. The greatest prophylactic
against cultural infection is not a shield but his love for something better
and greater and more heroic.
Something like the Christian
story, in fact. This is the map you want to give him, the image of reality you
want most profoundly impressed upon his brain, so his thoughts will run
naturally upon it.
These contemporary stories, Mills says, are tawdry
and dreary. They appeal to baser desires and miss our longing for glory. We
must give our children books that will give them a nobler version. As Mills says,
culture forms and reforms with enormous power. But we have God on our side, and
God tells a better story. Even the great pagans told a better story.