Rebecca Hagelin

As for whether to remain a virgin, a main young female character admits that’s a toughie: “Do we do something about it now, with a boy we’ve known for years? Do we get rid of it over spring break? Over the summer? Or do we settle into our dorm rooms just as we are, bold but innocent, and ready to lose it with the first campus player to say, ‘Come hither’?”

I wish I could say such books are exceptions. Unfortunately, Gossip Girls is one of the nation’s hottest-selling series for young teen girls. And, popular or not, unsuspecting parents and students just trying to use their time wisely settle in with other titles just because their school made the recommendation.

As I note in my book, “Home Invasion,” we parents have to beware. As Annabelle Corrick Beach, author of “Illusions of Spring,” reminds us, “It is parents who are on the front lines and need to commandeer their children through the maze of choices that they face.” Too many educators, writers and moviemakers have abdicated their responsibilities, she said, so “the burden on parents is much greater than it otherwise would be.”

This heavier burden is no accident, according to Beach:

“While working for two and a half years in a K-12 school library system, I attended ALA-sponsored workshops in which children’s librarians were encouraged not to make any value judgments about the content of materials. Children were supposed to have the “freedom” to read whatever they wanted to read. In my library for emotionally challenged students, we knew better than that. Books containing violence, aggression, foul language and explicitness were not selected. The books previewed in the library meetings, however, often contained those negative elements. From what the students told me about the books and movies they’d been exposed to previously, it was obvious to me that those types of materials had not been entirely beneficial. They really wanted to know that someone cared enough about them to present them with positive materials.”

So if your children prefer books to video games, great -- but monitor what they read. Contact the Association of Christian Librarians or the Christian Library Journal and view their recommendations. Talk with other parents that share your values. And, for goodness sake, spend the extra time to preview books before handing them to your impressionable young children.

Don’t forget that your child notices what you read, too. Throw out the trashy women’s magazines and sleaze novels and opt for material you’d be comfortable for your child to stumble across. If you’re into love stories, I highly recommend Beach’s “Illusions of Spring.” Beach proves that modern romance novels can be exciting, mysterious and moral -- all at the same time. What a novel concept!

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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