Rebecca Hagelin

“Mom, all my friends are going to see a movie tonight. Can I go, too?”

How many millions of parents over the years have been asked this question? It’s all too easy to simply focus on who is going and forget that we need to look at what they’re going to before we arrange the transportation (i.e., whether you’re taking or picking up). Thankfully, for several years we’ve had great Web sites like Focus on the Family’s “Plugged In” to provide guidance on content. As a mom of three teens, I can tell you that no one sees a movie in our home without my first visiting Plugged In.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Web site that could provide content reviews of books? Well, I have some good news: Thanks to the Alabama Policy Institute’s “Facts on Fiction” Web site, now there is.

Some parents may question the need for such a service. After all, we’re talking about books, often ones recommended by teachers. Besides, we’re always trying to keep kids from spending too much time with electronic entertainment, and we don’t want to discourage a wholesome activity such as reading, do we?

As I’ve written before, though, some of the books that have found their way into the “teen” section of your local bookstore and onto school-sponsored “recommended reading” lists are questionable at best -- and downright immoral at worst. Consider this case, courtesy of Sharon Evans, program director of the Alabama Policy Institute:

Susan Gamble, founder and president of Magic City Webs, could not keep up with her third grader’s voracious appetite for books. She was thrilled that her eight-year-old loved to read. However, when he came to her with a question about a curse word in his book, she was curious. Upon perusal, Susan found the book peppered with expletives. There also was an instance of a man fondling a woman's breasts, children looking at pornographic magazines and references of gore and child abuse.

Then Susan spent some time on the Internet and made another unpleasant discovery: The kind of detailed reviews available for movies, TV shows and even video games didn’t exist for books.

Until now. Visit the new Facts on Fiction, and you’ll find a list of more than 125 books (with many more on the way), complete with the kind of specific information busy parents need to make informed decisions about whether a particular book is right for their child.

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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