Tech Talk: Catholic Teen Books

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Earlier this week, Christine Johnson wrote about Catholic Teen Books from the perspective of a homeschooling mom. I’m not a homeschooling mom, but, as it turns out, Christine and I found ourselves in much the same position when it came to book selection for our kids.

My daughter has always loved to read, and, most of the time, I’ve been over the moon about this, counting it as not only a blessing, but also a satisfying bold, black tally in the parenting plus column.

“Most of the time?” you may ask. “How could anyone possibly be unhappy about having a kid who reads voraciously?”

When the content and the age group don’t mix.

By fifth grade, many of my daughter’s peers were reading books I found inappropriate, at least for upper elementary-aged students. Not wanting to discourage her love of reading, I set out to find suitable replacements: interesting books populated with real characters in believable conflicts.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

The next year, she moved on to middle school, and I was delighted to discover that book fairs still existed, even for bigger kids. Until we attended the book fair, that is, and discovered that the librarian and I had very different opinions about what constituted appropriate reading material for a sixth grader. Fortunately, my daughter was unimpressed as well.

At that same book fair, I ran into a much younger colleague, a woman who teaches middle school English. When I expressed my surprise and concern about the appropriateness of the offerings, she agreed with me, which helped me feel like less of an overprotective fuddy duddy, but still left us empty-handed.

Fortunately, my daughter was mature enough to not only recognize the reason we went home bookless, but to embrace it as well. For my part, I felt validated by my conversation with my colleague, but also disappointed. I didn’t want to see my daughter’s love of reading disappear in middle school, but what was she supposed to read?

This growing pain of parenthood is all too common. For a while, I managed to get contemporary Christian books into my daughter’s hands, but it was hit or miss. Wise English teachers aside, where can the parent of a young teen go to find reading material that excites her teen without horrifying her parents?

My daughter is now nineteen, and still reading. When I heard about the Catholic Teen Books site, I was simultaneously thrilled and wistful. Where had sites like this been when my daughter was in middle school?

Catholic Teen Books (CatholicMom.com)

Screen shot from CatholicTeenBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Cleanly laid out and simple to navigate, Catholic Teen Books is a great place to browse. There are series and stand-alone titles, award-winners and new releases. Nothing dusty or stodgy about this site, which lends itself to solo browsing by parents or teens, cooperative window shopping or immediate impulse buys.

Catholic Teen Books isn’t all about saints, although they’re definitely represented. Books from a variety of other genres are featured as well—contemporary, historical, mystery, speculative, saints, dystopian—with crisp cover photos, tempting taglines and back cover copy offering a brief description of each book. The site is still in its early stages, so I look forward to watching it grow as new books are added.

The only thing I wish the site had but doesn’t (yet) is the opportunity to take a peek inside and get a sense of the writing. But, since most of the books are available for Kindle, a quick click makes this option available on the Amazon site, along with the opportunity to download a sample of the book before buying.

This site is important to me for another reason as well. As an author, I understand the importance of getting my books into the right hands. Sure, it’s nice if agents and editors love them, but, in the end, we write for our readers. Getting my book into the hands of a reader who connects with it and comes to love the characters as much as I do is immensely rewarding. Sites like Catholic Teen Books facilitate exactly that kind of connection.

Why not check it out?

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess

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About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing about this site, Lisa! My oldest is barely a teen, but having read some secular YA books, I know what a challenge it can be. And, I’ve often seen parents with advanced readers posting in various forums looking for what books are appropriate for late elementary or middle grade kids who read well above their grade level.

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