Why You Can’t Read Twilight: A Letter to My Daughter

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Today my baby girl cut her first tooth. I want to believe that by the time she and her little friends are old enough to read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, everyone will have forgotten about that embarrassing literary atrocity. But, I’m afraid that might be wishful thinking. I want to have an answer prepared when my daughter says, “My friend Susie gets to read the Twilight books and why can’t I?!” Here it is:

Darling Girl,

I know that Susie and some of your other friends are devouring the Twilight series. They’re telling you how epic and romantic they are. My dearest, they are wrong. I have read the books in question (Ok, fine, I couldn’t make myself finish the last one with the half-vampire baby with that ridiculous name. I just couldn’t do it.). And they are nothing of the sort. If you want epic, read Lord of the Rings or Kristin Lavransdatter. If you want romance, read Miss Austen’s novels.

What’s that, my heart? You want specific reasons? Very well.

They will waste your time. In short, they’re simply mindless books. There are other books to read, my dear. Books that you will carry with you in your heart and soul till the day you die. I think far too much of you. I think far too much of your mind to let you waste it on something like Twilight.

And no, it’s not because there’s a little bit of violence, or because they’re fantasy books. There’s nothing better to help you learn what’s true than to read fantastical fairy stories. Your Daddy and I hope you read all sorts of good fantasy. We agree with Mr. Gilbert Keith Chesterton when he says:

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear…The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”

My dear, it’s not that I don’t want you to read about evil things like vampires. I can’t wait till you’re old enough to read George MacDonald’s Lilith. It’s my favorite vampire book. I just want you to read really splendid books about vampires, not lame ones. I want you to read writers who are master wordsmiths and who tell stories full of truth, beauty, and goodness. Needless to say, Miss Meyer is not one of them. If you don’t believe me, read this discussion that points out some of the stylistic gems she pens like this one: “I quickly rubbed my hand across my cheek, and sure enough, traitor tears were there, betraying me.” Wow. How does that even happen?

Dear girl, these books are just bad literature. You are too clever to waste your time on them. Now, we’re not expecting you to always read Dostoevsky and Dante and never read easy page-turners. Just because something is easy to read doesn’t make it bad. There are plenty of easy, fun reads that have meaningful things to say and are well-written.

The Twilight books are not in that category and Miss Meyer’s terrible writing is not the only major problem with them. The female protagonist is just about the worst role model I can imagine for you. You can read about what I think of that and what female literary characters I want you to get to know instead some other time. What I want to tell you today has to do with love. I don’t know anything about Miss Meyer’s personal life. But from what I read in Twilight, I can’t imagine that she really understands love.

You see, there’s something titled “love” in these books that isn’t anything like love at all. The boring protagonist Bella and her boyfriend who, I must add, is shockingly dull for being a 100-year-old sparkly vampire, have a relationship that is presented as an epic romance. Instead, it is a weird infatuation. Boring-gal and Old-Man-Vampire are madly attracted to each other from the moment they see each other (or in Old-Man-Vamp’s case, smell each other). He even compares the strength of his attraction to her scent to that of a pretty serious drug addiction. My dear, that’s not love. That’s hormones. Also, it’s creepy. Let’s just come right out with it: giving up your soul and abandoning your family because of your infatuation for an elderly stalker that might accidentally drink your blood is never a good choice.

Next, enduring love must have a basis of friendship. The only thing you have in common with your beloved cannot be your relationship. “We both like the other person a whole dang lot” isn’t grounds for an epic love, it’s the grounds for a bad high school break up. All Boring-Gal and Old-Man-Vamp talk about is their relationship. Yadda yadda yadda. Boring boring boring.

True love is exciting and dangerous and epic, but not because your man might accidentally kill you because he wants to drink your blood. True love is exciting and dangerous and epic because when you commit to loving someone forever, like Daddy and I have, you promise something so difficult and consuming that it is only possible by the grace of Our Lord. True love isn’t about sacrificing your humanity so that you can live with your weirdo vampire forever. True love is about filling each ordinary day with small sacrifices for your beloved. It’s about making the mundane events of life something beautiful and heroic. True love isn’t about gazing passionately into your beloved’s eyes (this may happen and that’s fine). True love is when your husband takes the toddler on a run in the jogging stroller at 6am so that you can sleep an extra 30 minutes next to your baby who nursed all night. It might sound unromantic to you now. But it won’t someday if you experience the unfathomable depth of true love. True love is so much more demanding than Miss Meyer thinks. And it is so much richer than her pathetic, weak rendering. You may not understand now, but someday, I hope you do.

That’s why you can’t read Twilight. You may envy Susie for having parents who let her read it. You may even be angry with Daddy and I. That’s ok. Our job isn’t to make you like us. Our job is to guide you to what’s true and beautiful and good. But do know, that every decision we make is because our love for you is beyond measure…and because bad literature makes us want to die. Also that.

Love,

Mama

Disclaimer: We’re not the sort of people that will be banning books from our household right and left. Rather than forbidding our kids from reading certain books, we plan to read the books our kids want to read with them so we can discuss the ideas presented and help our kids process them. By simply forbidding them to ever read certain books, we would only be making those books more enticing and we would risk our kids not truly understanding why we disagreed with the ideas presented as well as remove an opportunity for them to learn to discern good literature from bad and beautiful ideas from ugly ones. Once our kids reach an appropriate age choices about what they read will be entirely up to them. Hopefully, by that point they’ll have developed enough taste that they won’t want to read Twilight. Making decisions about when kids are ready for certain books is something only their parents can do. We won’t be allowing our kids to read Twilight when they’re preteens because so many ideas about relationships and identity are being formed at that age and we think the negative portrayals of women and twisted relationships aren’t something we want our kids to be presented with until they are older.

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Comments

  1. says

    Ditto, just ditto. I have said since I read the books (yes, I wasted my time reading them just so I could feel 100% justified in my opinions) that Twilight is on the top of a very short list of books that I will not encourage my children to read and I plan on encouraging them to read the majority of the “banned book list” .

    There are so many more worth while heroines for teenage and adult girls to emulate. In fact, I’m adding that to my list of “book lists” I need to make for the blog.

    • Ashley says

      I love this so much! People have asked over and over as to why I don’t “Twilight”, and I never felt like i could put my feelings into words. Thank you for doing that for me! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  2. Christine says

    This is wonderful! Thanks! I’ll be printing it out and saving it, in case, one day, my daughter (who is currently 3.5 months old), wants to read the Twilight series.

  3. says

    From one “mean mother” to another: Your daughter will, one future day, thank you for this position. Until that day, stand firm and be courageous. The virtues of truth, beauty, goodness, and love will, ultimately, triumph.

    Well done.

  4. Dimsss says

    Haha… I did not even read the books.. but watched movie trailers, and I was horrified.. truly horrified at how people were so taken up by it.

    I do hope you will introduce your child to Terry Pratchett though! He is magnificent and has vampire characters as well in his Discworld series.

  5. says

    If you want to read Terry Pratchett writing for YA audiences, you could read his Tiffany Aching trilogy, which begins with the Wee Free Men–a book so funny that your coffee will come out your nose.

  6. Holly says

    This is a wonderful post and hits every point it should. Fortunately I have boys so I’m sure I will be faced with other battles. What are your thoughts on Harry Potter?? My oldest (5) is starting to ask. I read the first one (and saw the movie) but that’s all of them. Yet, I hear mixed reviews (especially from the Christian perspective). Your thoughts?

    • Haley says

      Thanks so much, Holly! I have a boy as well and that’s what I’m expecting: different battles but plenty of ‘em. Funny you should ask, I JUST wrote a post on how much I love HP and why I think they’re great for kids because of their foundation in Christian thought last week: http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/06/11/why-your-kids-need-to-read-harry-potter/
      I think, however, that your 5-year-old is too young for the series. The first two or three are still pretty light but books 4-7 have some pretty dark themes that a 5-year-old wouldn’t be ready for. I’m not sure how we’re going to address that with our kids. I hate to make them wait til they’re 10 or 11 to read the books, but it might be torture to start them out younger but only let them read the first three. We’ll probably just take it case by case depending on how sensitive each kid is to somewhat scary content. Go ahead and read the series yourself and consider reading the first book as a read aloud when you think your son is ready. They’re fantastic books, really. I hope your family enjoys them!

    • says

      I know that this is an old post, so you may not even see my reply, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents anyway.
      I was in 5th grade when the Harry Potter books first came out. A few of my friends parents didn’t let them read it because of the “magic” in it. My mom decided to read the books to my sister (in 4th grade) and I so that if anything came up, we could talk about it. I still remember sitting there while she read–and I’m 24. Even when we were older we still loved to be read to. And when the last few came out my sister and I read through them ourselves just because we couldn’t find the time to all get together.
      The Harry Potter series is written incredibly well and has (as Haley’s post below tells) a wonderful foundation. I highly encourage you to, when you think your kiddo is ready, read them together. The time together is invaluable and reading these together will prompt some really good discussions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I still do.

  7. Ingrid says

    Can you give a review of the Hunger games? I haven’t ventured into the next pop fiction for teens and I would love to hear what you think first. Maybe I won’t have to go there.

    • Haley says

      Yes! I would love to. I read them a couple of months ago and my husband just read the first one and we’ve been discussing. Stay tuned, maybe I’ll have a chance to write one up next weekend.

  8. Angel says

    I must agree that I would probably not let my preteen read the books– my daughter who read the series is 16 ( I read it first). Please read the “Bella” section of Breaking Dawn sometime. It isn’t daughter worthy literature but I just get a kick out of it. The ending is the best part of the entire series. I have to admit that I skim the “Jacob” section in the middle because it is SO raging boring.

    • Haley says

      I think I had to stop reading as soon as they named the baby Renesme (sp?). I just couldn’t suffer through any more, haha.

  9. Chae says

    Are you considering reading Twilight with your daughter when she’s older? It could be a useful tool to talk about abusive relationships, i.e. your boyfriend is not an authority figure, etc.

    • Haley says

      Honestly, I’d skip it. I think that’s important topic that we will have plenty of conversation about but I don’t think I’ll use Twilight as a discussion tool :)

  10. says

    I’m trying really hard not to cry after reading this truly beautiful, passionate letter. I’m an English major, and a writer myself, and these horrid books that pass as literature were reaching a fever pitch of popularity at the end of my high school/beginning of my college years. At 16, I slightly enjoyed the first one; at 21, I barely finished the fourth.

    My younger sisters (now 14) devoured the books last year and have read them repeatedly (why my mother allowed this is beyond understanding), and while I have done everything I can to steer them towards anything more appropriate, they still insist that Twilight is “the best thing ever.”

    But I have a niece, who is three, to whom I write (on my blog). And she is who I was thinking of as I read this letter. You’ve articulated what I’ve been struggling to say and I must convey to you my most heartfelt thanks. Not only do you point out what’s wrong with the books, you point out what real-life love looks like and how they differ. So thank you.

    Also, I adored your post about 10 Books to Read to Your Daughter. While I can’t agree with all of them, I think it’s a very strong list. I would add Ella Enchanted and The Hunger Games (just the first one) to that list, as well as Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia. I hope you don’t mind that I linked to it in my own blog, as I have a number of friends with strong literary inclinations who also thought it was a brilliant post.

    Cheers,
    Willow

    • Haley says

      Thanks for your kind words, Willow! You have a lucky little niece :) I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my very first niece in December, yay!

      I haven’t read Ella Enchanted (commenters on that post have urged me to, though!) but I loooove Lucy in Chronicles and I actually really enjoyed The Hunger Games (especially the first one, the second one felt like a rehash and the third was only slightly better) although I think they’re also problematic. But that’s a post for another day!

      Thanks for linking!

      Haley

  11. says

    I couldn’t even finish the first book, blah! Now 50 Shades….I reluctantly devoured. I read my husband a few lines from it and he asked why I was reading “Smut”! Needless to say I have not been inclined to read the next 2 books. There are better books out there!

  12. Ashley Rain says

    I loved this! Being a young mother myself who grew up on all the old greats, it pains me to see other young people devouring garbage. Sweetheart, you want romance? Anne of Windy Poplars (I think this is the one where she and Gilbert write back and forth constantly?) made me so excited for the day that I might be in love!

    • Haley says

      I’ve been re-reading most of the Anne books this year but I haven’t re-read Anne of Windy Poplars in forever! I think I’ll borrow the audiobook from the library and listen to it in the car on my way to teach ballet. It’s so delightful! Anne and Gilbert!

      • says

        The Anne series is so near and dear to my heart! I love anything L.M. Montgomery! Windy Poplars is special in its own way too, because my hubby and I started our relationship by writing each other LONG emails, which so reminds me of Anne and Gilbert’s letters :-)

        I love the series so much that my dog is named Gilbert <3

  13. says

    I would rather my daughter read the Hunger Games as the female character is so much more whole. However, when she reaches the appropriate age, I won’t deny her the right to read Twilight. A book that gets a kid reading rather than watching TV, texting, or playing video games is a win. Children have to start with a love of reading then develop a literary taste. I read all kinds of amazing authors at the age of 12, 13, 14 and 15. You name it I read it: Kerouac, Kinsella, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Austen, Woolf and many more and you know what, I didn’t understand them the way they were intended to be understood, I enjoyed them but couldn’t fully appreciate them as the themes were way over my immature head. Now the Young Adult genre is full of so many amazing books, many are written so well that they often rival their adult contemporary fiction counterparts. The growth of that genre is in large part to the commercial success of Harry Potter and Twilight. Do I think Twilight is well written, no. But I know that my baby girl will be smart enough to read Twilight and see it for what it truly is, a book that is gimmicky, sustains itself on a perverted sense of sexual tension, that has incomplete characters and poor writing. Twilight is beloved by billions just like McDonald’s food and Doritos are. Twilight is the junk food of the book world and sometimes, we all need a little junk… in moderation and at the right age.

    • Haley says

      Modish Mama, I absolutely respect your choices about what you will and won’t provide as appropriate reading material for your daughter. You are the mama and I know that you want to do what’s best for your daughter. However, I have to disagree with some of your claims. “A book that gets a kid reading rather than watching TV, texting, or playing video games is a win.” Hmmm, I really think it depends on what the book is and why settle? Why settle for a child simply not doing something mindless like watching TV and calling it a day? Why not aspire to kids creating, imagining, playing, and learning? And I agree, “children have to start with a love of reading then develop a literary taste.” It sounds like you read some great authors as a preteen and early teen. Of course you didn’t understand them like you would today but they were developing your literary taste which is a fantastic thing. You would have fully understood something mindless like Twilight but would it have developed your literary taste? Yes, but it would have developed poor taste. And yes! There are some great young adult genre books, so why settle for a book that is, in your words, “gimmicky, sustains itself on a perverted sense of sexual tension, that has incomplete characters and poor writing” ? Why eat junk food when there’s a feast in wait for you? Do we need junk? I don’t really think so.

      • says

        But I think the big difference in our opinions is that I give my daughter more credit. I think she will be more then capable, at the appropriate, to choose what she should and shouldn’t be reading. I totally get what you are saying in this post, you want your daughter to be encouraged to reach her amazing, limitless potential and you feel Twilight shouldn’t be a part of that journey. I’m just thinking, by the time they are at an age that Twilight becomes relevant I think what authors they are reading will be fairly low on the list of what type of person they are eventually going to become. Your model as a mother and woman is going to influence her path in life far more then Bella Swan or Stephanie Meyer ever will.

        • Haley says

          Firstly, you must have skipped my disclaimer at the end of my post. I explain that when books are age appropriate, of course our children will be allowed to read them and we will discuss them with our kids. My point was that the books are not appropriate for their usual demographic: preteen girls.

          And you are so right about the primary influence for our kids being ourselves! I quite agree. That is most important. However, I don’t think books are unimportant. I think they are influential and formative.

          And I don’t think it’s a matter of not giving my daughter enough “credit” as you say. It’s a matter of offering good choices for a developing child. I love your example of comparing Twilight to junk food. It’s a great comparison. And it made me think about our kids and what choices we offer. The goal, of course, is to raise children who are skilled and capable of making decisions on their own. To give them tools to navigate the world well. Not offering them certain choices doesn’t mean we’re not giving them credit, it just means we understand their stage of development. For example, if I gave him the choice, my 3-year-old would eat candy for every meal. It’s not that I don’t give him enough credit. I just know that he’s three! Three-year-olds are not ready to distinguish between what is healthy and what is not. Refusing him that option doesn’t make me a restrictive parent, but giving him the freedom to chose candy at every meal would be seriously detrimental to his well fare. So what do we do? We offer good choices. He can choose to have an apple and peanut butter, cheese, carrot sticks, dried fruit, etc. He gets to make a choice and the options he is given help to develop his taste for good food that will nourish his body. In the process he begins to understand how to make good choices about food that will give him skills to carry with him about healthy eating when he’s off making his own choices about food.

          To refuse an 11-year-old the choice to read a mindless novel promoting terrible views about women and relationships isn’t a matter of not giving her enough credit to see through those lies, it’s a matter of understanding her stage of development. She’s just learning to navigate the waters of relationships and views about women. Do we offer her a broken compass? Or do we give her tools that will nourish her with understanding about what healthy relationships should be? When she’s older, sure! She’ll be able to see it for what it is.

          Of course we wouldn’t give a 12-year-old girl the choice to hit the mall rather than attending school, even if she has no “taste” for school and prefers the mall. And there’s certainly 12-year-olds out there who, if given the choice, would definitely rather go to the mall than attend school. But that’s not a choice we offer as parents. And nobody thinks the worse of us for it. Parents let their kids make choices that are appropriate for their age and development. We might disagree about what is and isn’t appropriate according to what our kids can handle, but let’s not pretend that refusing them a bad option means that we don’t have respect for our children.

  14. Kelly says

    Although I do agree with some of what is said here, I do believe that children should be allowed to read what intrigues them. This may not be your definition of love or your idea of good literature, but to a 13 year old girl the book is an easy read and keeps her attention. When I was 13, reading Mark Twain did not keep my attention. Twilight is not well written, but think about what type of girls it appeals to. It appeals to girls who consider themselves “normal” or “average”, much like the main character Bella and it shows that the most extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people. It gives these girls hope that someday they will find their own Edward Cullen, a man who treats an ordinary girl, like an extraordinary one. And isn’t that what all women want? And what all girls hope for? To find that man that treats them extraordinarily and makes them feel and experience amazing things.

    I completely agree with you on how the books were written and the plot could have been WAY better. I also agree with that Bella should have been made more of a stronger female character. The fact that she wasn’t annoyed me throughout the whole series, but I can see why girls would want to read the book. They want to find that extraordinary man someday. Although she needs to find him, not just stumble upon him like in Twilight ;)

    • Haley says

      Kelly, I think I just disagree that a book is worth reading because it’s “an easy read and keeps” a child’s attention. I mean, trashy magazine articles are easy reads and keep your attention but they’re not worth your daughter’s time, right?

      And I don’t think Mark Twain would have appealed to me as a 13-year-old girl, either. But there are thousands of other authors out there who write good books that would appeal to 13-year-old girls.

      I also disagree with your rosy view of Edward Cullen as “a man who treats an ordinary girl like an extraordinary one.” Apart from Twilight certainly not being the only books with a female protagonist that feels ordinary, plain, and awkward (there’s so many good options out there!), Edward and Bella’s relationship is disturbing! He is controlling. She has no power in the relationship. He takes a “I know what’s best for you. You can’t protect yourself” attitude. And then what it says about sexuality? Having sex causes her physical harm because she’s human and he’s a super strong vampire. She’s black and blue all over. But, it’s ok, the plot tells us, because she likes it and doesn’t want him to stop hurting her? What?! It’s creepy! That’s all apart from the ridiculous romanticizing of their obsessive infatuation. “Isn’t that what all women want? And what all girls hope for?” Well, I certainly hope not!

      Sure, I can see why preteen girls want to read the book. Their ideals of love and what it means to be a woman are immature and often misguided. Just like Twilight.

      • Kears says

        So much has already been said, and while I agree with your views, I also want to defend what Kelly said. I’m not trying to change your opinion, but merely trying to inform you and your readers how other moms who will let their children read the books feel.

        I think Kelly hits the mark when she talks about this being simple entertainment. There are many media items that we share with our children merely for entertainment that aren’t teaching morals. Take most of the older Disney movies for example, with the Little Mermaid (one of my favorites) taking the cake. Ariel at age 16 disobeys her father’s fair rules, falls in love at first sight, gives up everything (*cough, family, *cough) to become human, magically gets him to love her in 2 days with just a horse ride and some food, then they live happily ever after once she leaves the home she’s always known. So, while the story really teaches us few good morals, we enjoy it and show it to our children. At least it’s got good music, right?

        I feel the same way about Twilight. I certainly hope that any daughters I have (just a boy for now) will choose to read the other books that have been talked about. (You MUST read Ella Enchanted, so beautiful!). Yet I have no problem with her, for mere entertainment, reading this book. Most girls enjoy the story of Bella because they want a boy to love them for who they are, and Edward does. While most of the argument boils down to the differences in opinion of how abusive the relationship is, I won’t get into that (especially the sexuality part – sex hurts a lot at first and after having a baby!). But, I just wanted to share that to me this book, while not being stellar by any means, does provide entertainment that shares the similar levels of love found in the Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., just most violently! and that’s why I believe that many mothers don’t mind their children reading it.

        • Haley says

          Thanks for weighing in, Kears! I definitely need to read Ella Enchanted.

          I completely agree with you on the Little Mermaid’s dubious moral messages. And although the music is totally grand, we would have to have lots of discussions about why Ariel makes so many terrible decisions if I was going to allow my kids to watch it. Just because something is entertaining doesn’t mean it’s good or worth watching/reading.

  15. Jennifer says

    Your remarks about Mrs. Meyer and her books are cruel and come off as downright snobbish. My hope for you daughter is that you allow her to decide for herself what she likes and doesn’t like (she will decide anyway). I also hope she doesn’t resent you for not allowing her to be a child and get caught up in foolishness and fun. Reading should be about what you enjoy not what someone tells you that you should enjoy. I admit that when my group of friends were discussing the series at work, talking about werewolves and vampires, I thought they sounded ridiculous. However, I soon realized while reading the series that for me, the appeal had nothing to do with the vampire and werewolf stuff (except for the physical strength and immortality). It was about the relationship between Edward and Bella. How he was so totally dedicated and protective of her and made it his mission to take care of her every need and desire. Most people know and agree that real love is not like that but it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy reading about it. For me fantasizing about what life would be like without limits or mortality was fabulous. It’s fantasy but that’s what makes it fun! I loved the series and if that makes me a dumb and mindless shrew, so be it. At least I am happy…

    • Haley says

      Jennifer, I have given my honest opinion about the value of Ms. Meyer’s series: that they are not worth reading. I have a hard time believing that thinking a book is not good is cruel but..well, moving on to snobbery. Does my desire for my daughter to read good and beautiful books to develop her mind and soul make me a snob? If so, I’m ok with that.

      Everyone makes decision about likes and dislikes! My goal isn’t to get my daughter to like everything I like, it’s just that she’s exposed to things that will spark her imagination, challenge her thinking, and develop her character. And yes, when things are not age appropriate and I believe they will be detrimental to her, I will not offer those as choices. (See above comment about food choices. Do we give our kids junk food for every meal because they like it? No, that would make us bad parents and would harm our children. Do we give them junk books to read because they like it? etc.)

      Also see comment directly above about the disturbing nature of Edward and Bella’s relationship. The issue isn’t that the relationship isn’t realistic, it’s that it’s terribly unhealthy but being presented as epic love.

      And for the record, I LOVE fantasy! It’s one of my favorite genre! Which is why it’s so disheartening to me when Twilight is chosen over so many amazing books.

  16. Emma says

    If you would actually get over the fact that some many people rip on the books and movie you would see that they are very good books. But it’s your choice whether you like them or not but I just have one question of they are such bad books why are they one of America’s top sellers?

    • Haley says

      Emma, I have read the books in question (except for all of the final book) and I have given my opinion of them above. As to your question about best sellers…I simply disagree that just because a book sells means that it’s good literature. Romance novels, for example, are a huge business but no one argues their merits due to their sales. But perhaps we simply disagree on what the judgement that a book is “good” or “bad” means.

    • Natasha says

      The fact that they are “top sellers” means absolutely nothing. They are too sellers because a bunch of teen girls are infatuated. I was a teen when the series first came out and was in high school so no I’m not just trying to talk down on teen girls. There were also shirts being sold and worn by so many classmates that said things like “every girl deserves her vampire” and other vampire romance shirts but that doesn’t make it good fashion. I personally can’t give my opinion on the books because I couldn’t get into the infatuation with it. But the claim that it’s a top seller doesn’t prove that it’s good literature.

  17. Angela Decker says

    I first read the books and thought they were fun but slowly realized how horrible they are in terms of both literature, morals, and grammar. For a specific and funny blog about the grammar, check out reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com.

  18. says

    Just discovering your blog and really enjoying it. I say over and over that we have to be intentional parents and not just accept “not bad” but actually, ACTIVELY seek and choose “good” choices for our children. (You provide a list of GREAT choices! I’ve read them all as well!)

    “I also hope she doesn’t resent you for not allowing her to be a child and get caught up in foolishness and fun.” — I think “fun” is completely different than being caught up in “foolishness.”

    • Haley says

      Thanks so much, Jamie! I think you’re so right. I think when we continually offer great choices, the mediocre things are left behind.

      Also in response to that comment above that you quoted, I’m not sure what the fun, carefree days of childhood have to do with reading Twilight…but, anyhow…

      I checked out your blog and added you to my reader! Love your sheep :) Thanks for stopping by!

  19. says

    Are you on Goodreads.com? I want to see your reading list! Loved this post! I’ve never read Twilight and have pondered reading at least the first one so that when I have daughters I won’t only be telling her “No.” I’ll be telling her, ” No, and this is why (fill in the blank) and here are some great alternatives.” :-)

    • Haley says

      Thanks, Lori! I’m not on Goodreads. Is it worth it? I’m terrible at keeping up with things.

      Well if you decide to read it, it will only take you an afternoon. Max. :)

      • says

        I really love being on Goodreads. It helps me to keep up with what I’ve read and what I want to read. Makes it so much easier when I go to the library and can’t remember the title of that book my friend told me about. Another perk that I enjoy is that I’m friends with people on the site that have wide and varied tastes in the books they read, which helps me branch out. I used to almost only read historical Christian romance and Christian fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love that genre! But I was thirsting for something more and wasn’t sure where to start! Since being on Goodreads, my horizons have broadened significantly :-) Goodreads will also make recommendations based on the books you’ve read, which in turn helps me to discover even more books that I might have over looked otherwise.

        All in all, it isn’t completely necessary, but I really enjoy it. It has been a great tool for me since I most of my friends that I interact with on a day-to-day, face-to-face basis don’t have quite as varied of reading tastes as I enjoy. So I guess Goodreads is only as good as you make it. Adding friends who have great taste in books as well as keeping up with your own reading on the site will yield fulfilling results :-)

  20. says

    This is wonderful. I also read something the other day that said Bella and Edward’s relationship contains all 15 signs of a violent relationship. Yes, that’s what we should our daughters is TRUE LOVE. I read it since I used to be a teacher to see what the fuss was all about and I’ll admit I got sucked in but not to the story itself but it was like a train wreck that I just couldn’t look away from. It’s not beautiful and it’s not romantic – it’s scary, and like you said, not in a good way.

    • Haley says

      Thanks, Leah! I find their relationship super creepy and unhealthy. “like a train wreck that I just couldn’t look away from”-so true!

  21. says

    I just found your blog through Pinterest. All I have to say is YES! I love everything about this letter. I will be saving it for my nearly 8 month old little girl should she want to read it on down the road. When Twilight and Fifty Shades are referred to as literature, I develop a nervous tick.

  22. Sydney says

    Wow! I stumbled across this when I was reading you post about why children should read Harry Potter (which by the way, I fully agree with .) & I must say, this is an amazing post! No only do you point out how unromantic these books are, you show that they are in fact un healthy. Pre-teens, teenagers, & even some adults have twisted views about love & I believe that when they read this series it will just hurt them more. The Twilight series is not a series about love, it is a series about lust & hormones & a creepy boyfriend who stalks a girl. Bella does not have a good relationship with her parents & she pours her life into this vampire who apparently thinks she’s like a drug. I for one do not find anything attractive with that… like at all. I’m 15 & when the series came out I must admit, I was intrigued. However my mother has the same belief with you on these books, and so I wasn’t aloud to read them. Sadly, I went behind her back & read the first two. I couldn’t even finish the end of the second one because they were THAT horrible. I truly feel sorry for any girl who thinks these books are romantic. I feel even worse knowing that they want a relationship like Edward & Bella…. I for one know that when I’m older & have children of my own, I will make sure they understand why I won’t let them read this horrible series.

    • Haley says

      Thank you so much, Sydney. It’s great to hear from someone in the age group that Twilight targets who can see the book for what it is. Also encouraging that even if my kids end up reading it anyway, it doesn’t mean that they will be fooled by it’s depiction of love. Thanks for sharing this!

  23. Natalie says

    I feel no loyalty to the Twilight series in any way so this is not about defending the book itself. I’d like to think of myself as mindful, tasteful and not so unclever that I can’t “enjoy” a chick book or a chick flick from time to time while understanding that it is not anything to be compared to a classic literary work. Why anyone would encourage or even allow their young daughters to read it would be beyond me for any reason, but that falls under our personal responsibility to raise our children based on the guidelines that we’ve established for our own families. That needs no explanation or defending regardless of what the book (or movie) is. But I, like Jennifer, find your post downright snobbish and rude. All the hateful and condescending downtalking about Stephanie Meyers’ writing is a turn-off. I share in your idea of values and the setting of certain standards for our daughters…but they sure lose credibility in my book when they are all wrapped up and delivered in such a hateful package.

    • Haley says

      I’m sorry you feel that way, Natalie. But I do stand by my description of Meyer’s books. That they are mindless, a waste of time, terribly written, weak, full of unhealthy depictions of relationships, and simply bad literature. Again, it’s my honest opinion of a book series. If disliking them makes me a snob, as you say, well….so be it :)

  24. Amy B says

    I applaud you for your stand on your opinion – and I totally agree. I can’t fathom how a mother could read these books and think that it was apprpriate reading for a preteen or teenage daughter. A poorly written book which glamorizes sex certainly does not meet my expectation of appropriate for anyone, for that matter. I am so tired of anyone’s negative opinion of something being classified as “hate.” I don’t “hate” Ms. Meyer, I don’t even “hate” her books – I just don’t like them.

  25. Tessa says

    While I don’t quite agree with some small aspects of your definition of love (since I am not religious), I do wholeheartedly agree that Twilight presents an extremely messed-up view of love. It’s not real at all, but rather an extreme level of obsession that is unhealthy and kind of disturbing. It is even more disturbing to me that young girls now view this as their ideal relationship. I also agree that Bella is a very flat character. Even before the movies came out, I hated her because she was so uninteresting and WAY too whiney. It’s awful that young girls are using Bella and her relationship with Edward as models for their lives.

  26. says

    Dear Haley,
    I’m 11 years old and I’m starting the twilight series I like it and all but I agree with you about most the things you said about twilight. My mom will only let me read the 1st 2 though until I’m older (much, much older). About the violence, I’m almost done with the 1st and none of the violence has scared me, is that weird for an 11 year old?

  27. Mary Chamblee says

    So you praise HP but think twilight is an atrocity, isn’t that a bit hypocritical. I personally love both book series, and recommend them for young adults.

  28. Renesme Really? says

    In our family, when the kids reached the time when they might have read the series, we mocked and mocked the personality-free heroine and the stalker creep hero. The girls read the books…and shrieked with horrified laughter. Family culture is very, very powerful.

  29. Anna says

    I read Twilight in my teen years and I did enjoy them simply for what they are. As you must do with all books. I have also read many great classics such as Edgar Allen Poe, Canterbury Tales, The Iliad and the Odyssey. My parents never once told me that I couldn’t read certain books. In factact they couldn’t keep them out of my hands growing up. This is why I think that telling kids they shouldn’t read certain books is not the right approach. If you raised your daughter right they will be able to notice the multiple flaws in Bella and Edwards relationship. But let her discover that for herself.

  30. TwinkleSquid says

    I think the best medicine to protect against them wanting to read such trash would just be to fortify your little minds with worthwhile literature along the way. By the time they are old enough to be interested in trends and peer pressure, they will know how to spot the duds and think for themselves instead of gobbling down easy to read highly publicized and commercialized hoopla.

  31. Jody H says

    You are a very eloquent writer. I’m going to have my daughter read your post. She’s now 16 and we struggled over this when she was 12 and all her friends were reading the series. Her friends who were forbidden to read it, got it from the library at school and hid it from their parents. By the time she was 13 I told her she could read the first two, but I also wanted her to listen to why I thought they were a waste of time and inappropriate, (I had read the series). I went over most of the topics you covered in this post. We had many discussions about the books. I did ask her not to read the fourth book and told her the story in a nutshell so that she knew how it ended. Parenting is difficult. I often reflect on the scripture in proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I think we just have to strive to do our best, teach our children correct principles and pray daily that they will make good choices. Best wishes as you start your journey with your daughter.

    • Angela says

      I think this is a great way to do it. Explain your reasoning and then let them make the choice and talk about their decision. Perfect parenting right there: teaching, letting them choose now that they have knowledge, and then helping them learn from their choice.

  32. Melyn says

    I totally agree with your views on Twilight! I admit that I was suckered into reading them, and while I did find them enjoyable at first, I soon realized that they had a miserable moral standpoint and were just terribly written. You mentioned in the letter about having a favorite vampire novel. Lilith, I think you called it? I was wondering if you’ve ever read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s one of my all time favorite vampire books next to Dracula.

    Im so glad I found this blog!!! It gives me happy tears to know that I’m not a rare breed in my overwhelming love of books!!! :)

  33. says

    There is so very much I agree with in your above post. As a mother and children’s librarian, I am thrilled to see other parents so passionate about offering strong literary choices for their children. Having read the Twilight series more for professional reasons rather than personal ones, it is a hot damn mess. I will admit that I actually enjoyed the first novel in the series but each one was progressively worse than its predecessor. The writing is tragic. The themes are misguided. And while there were many possible chances for Meyer to right her ship she played straight into the cliche.

    From one self-proclaimed book snob to another, I get it. However, there are times when some quick, mindless dreck is needed to cleanse the palate… to cure a book hangover (what I like to call the effect after reading something truly amazing that nothing feels like it can live up to its amazingness) in order to move a reader to the next great find. My mother is the ultimate book snob but she did me THE ultimate service of allowing me to make my own choices in literature. We discussed it all. Nothing was off the table. Her example is how I will continue to handle my daughter’s choices.

    Like you, I approached motherhood with a fierce goal of only offering my girl the best of what is available… PBS and organic veggies! And all this works for awhile until free will sets in. It’s hard to predict the type of reader your beautiful girl will be but I hope by the time she is old enough to choose books like Twilight (which God help us all if they are still popular then) that you are open enough to allow her to let that free will shine through. The best we can do is keep open dialogue with our children to discuss everything they are reading and watching. I cringe when my little one wants to read the Barbie books but we do because it teaches her about making choices and while in this case the choice isn’t harmful, it empowers our girls to keep making choices that will lead them to the right ones as we support them in the their pursuit of truth. I want my girl to read all the best stuff but if there is some fluff or dreck along the way, eh, so be it. Reading is never a waste of time. Good or bad, those of us who have been taught not just to read but to think critically, will always find a lesson. I feel strongly that books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray are gateway drugs to harder literature. A girl who plows through Twilight will want something else and it is up to the parents and teachers and librarians in her life to then point her in the direction of the best of what’s around.

    Good luck to you mama! I admire your passion.

  34. Rebekah says

    Amen, amen, and amen.

    The only thing that I would (and perhaps will) do when that day comes is let my daughter read it and come to the same conclusion. I’m an English major, so I know that she will have the greatest literary foundation from childhood. With this foundation, there’s no possible way to read Twilight and hail it as the same genres as Austen, Tolkien, or even J.K. Rowling.

    That, and it will be a chance to teach her to watch out if she does have a boyfriend who is controlling who her friends are and when to hang out with them.

    • Haley says

      Those controlling relationship dynamics are so creepy, aren’t they? I agree that the key is a good foundation of great literature, later on kids won’t be fooled by nonsense.

  35. says

    Twilight : Wuthering Heights :: Bridget Jones’s Diary : Pride & Prejudice

    Basically it’s intellectual crap, but can be entertaining. And should be rated R, so that it is read only by adults or older teens with an adult “present” to help discuss things. I actually liked it. Sometimes it’s relieving to read things purely for entertainment. And as far as Mrs. Meyer’s writing, I’m not really sure how to describe it. It was NOT a work of literary genius, but I couldn’t put it down, so she has something great there! My husband read it too, although I’m pretty sure his motivation was that he wanted to be able to properly criticize it, which you can’t do if you’ve never read it. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for great things for our kids instead of settling for merely not-terrible, and I certainly will ask my daughter to wait to read it until she’s in her late teens and be there to talk to her about it. Which I think is where you’re going with this post. :) One last thought–once we descend into the pit of using ad hominem as the basis of arguments, it’s hard to get out!

  36. says

    I applaud your sense of style and ethics-I am a Catholic-loving Protestant. However, I am perplexed as to why you find it okay to treat Twilight as though it were an illegal drug. In banning it, you know you will only make it more attractive. You are wrong in this, plain and simple…let them read it, view it, sit beside them and explain why it is what you think it is but let them decide…

    • Haley says

      Since I already covered this in the post, Christian, I’ll just quote myself :)
      “Rather than forbidding our kids from reading certain books, we plan to read the books our kids want to read with them so we can discuss the ideas presented and help our kids process them. By simply forbidding them to ever read certain books, we would only be making those books more enticing and we would risk our kids not truly understanding why we disagreed with the ideas presented as well as remove an opportunity for them to learn to discern good literature from bad and beautiful ideas from ugly ones. Once our kids reach an appropriate age choices about what they read will be entirely up to them.”

  37. Catherine says

    Amen! My mother forbade me to read “Flowers in the Attic” and to watch “The Exorcist” when I was young. I eventually got to both of these, and decided she was completely right! I finally got to them in my mid-20s, when I was old enough to handle the content. Though I still needed a shower after reading V. C. Andrews.

    I haven’t read any of S. Meyers, nor do I plan to spend the time to do so – reviews like this are quite enough!

  38. Tiffany says

    I really enjoyed your post. I am a Christian, mother of four, freshman in college, plan to major in English, and total literary SNOB! Kudos to you. There is nothing more wrong with leaving Twilight out of her literary diet than leaving junk out of her diet or horror flicks out of her movie collection. Also, kudos on calling a spade a spade. There’s nothing wrong with that! People are way to PC anymore. Critics have jobs for a reason, and I find your criticism helpful!

    I did not read the Twilight books. I’ve only seen one of the Twilight saga movies, the third (I think it’s the third, the one in which she has a half vamp baby), and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. I did watch it with my daughter, although I majorly censored it, and I was appalled at the nonsensical sexual situations. Another family member started the movie for my daughter and her to watch together, and thank God I decided to check up on her.

    She (12) loves the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Secret Garden, Percy Jackson, Nancy Drew, Wrinkle in Time, and many more. She, like her mom, hates movies made from books. I love that she loves to read, and I love even more that she decided on her own that Twilight is not her taste, even when all her friends are reading it. I was not sure whether or not I would let her read it, but after recognizing what you have pointed out here, I am sure. Considering my daughter’s own opinion, that is a battle avoided. She will NOT be watching the other movies. As far as letting children make up their own minds about things, I will not be letting her make up her own mind about drugs as long as that is my decision. I also will not be letting her make up her own mind about poisoning it with written crap as long as that is my decision. She can decide what color jeans to wear with what shoes and what earrings. Some decisions are theirs, and others are ours. Here here! to those who would like raise well rounded, cultured children.

    Proud Mom of Literary Snob in the Making

    • Haley says

      Thanks, Tiffany. I love hearing other parents success stories when they have fed their kids good literature and the kids themselves decide they don’t want the junk.

  39. Sarah says

    I think you gave some really great reasons to not read it. I read them when I was 12 and luckily, I realized how awful they were. I can imagine your daughter wanting to read them anyways, since that’s how I was, but hopefully she’ll take what you have to say to heart.

  40. Carla says

    Let me start by saying that I don’t disagree with your arguments. I read (all the way through) the series, and I understand the stylist and romantic failings that plague it. As a writer myself, I can understand the outrage.
    But I absolutely abhor this letter- let me explain why.
    You should say all this to your daughter, no doubt, you should tell her how you feel honestly and thoroughly about big and little things, and this is no exception. But to FORBID her to read it? It goes against everything I believe in, as someone who supports creativity, intelligence, and the encouragement of learning in a family. Keeping your children from things that can pose a danger to them is a parental responsibility. But keeping them from things you don’t like, even if your reasons are sound, is a sure way of creating resentment and distrust, as well as inspiring them to want those things even more. When I was about 12, my mother forbid me from reading a book for very good reasons: it features a violent rape, as well as a lot of other mature subjects that she felt were inappropriate. I was a bookworm and had long since surpassed my grade level when it came to reading, and I read practically every book I could get my hands on. The minute she told me she would not let me read it, that book became the only thing I wanted to read. I was insanely curious, and also more than a little angry that she did not believe me capable of handling it. I went to great lengths to get the book from a local library without her knowing, and read it with an eagerness and fascination that I probably would not have had, had I encountered it on my own. And she was only doing it to protect me. Imagine the anger your daughter will feel knowing that you do not find her intelligent or self-assured enough to make her own decision about the series? If allowed to read them herself, in her own time, and only if she decided she wanted to, she would go into it with a clear mind and probably get bored, as you did, or see the failings of the story. But instead you plan to push your beliefs down her throat, and you think, as a preteen or a teenager she won’t push right back?
    She will have grown up surrounded in real love, and yet you won’t trust her to know the difference between that, and the Twilight version? How very sad, that you do not trust her with such a simple thing- to think about what she reads. How, then, will you ever trust her to handle the big stuff?

  41. Carla says

    Just to clarify, I know that you added a caveat to the end of this post, explaining that what your kids read will be up to them. In that case, I am all for it. But the letter says the opposite: if you plan to let your children have freedom of choice when it comes to books, why, then would your daughter need to be upset that “Susie” is reading it. Wouldn’t she be able to read it herself, if she wanted to, or decide that she didn’t care what Susie was reading? I disagree with this letter because in the kind of environment you sound like you want to raise your kids in, it would be not only unnecessary, but dangerous and counterproductive.

    • Haley says

      Carla, I think I cover all of your criticisms on my parenting in this post:
      http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/09/17/should-you-limit-your-childs-reading-choices/

      As to your statement:
      “It goes against everything I believe in, as someone who supports creativity, intelligence, and the encouragement of learning in a family. Keeping your children from things that can pose a danger to them is a parental responsibility. But keeping them from things you don’t like, even if your reasons are sound, is a sure way of creating resentment and distrust, as well as inspiring them to want those things even more.”

      Limiting children’s reading choices that are not only poorly-written but contain unhealthy, misogynistic, and dangerous ideas about relationships and self-image goes against everything you believe in? How could letting a preteen read such a pathetic book nurture creativity, intelligence, or learning? I think that ideas promoting unhealthy relationships are dangerous to preteens, it’s not merely that these books aren’t my personal preference. I take my daughter’s self-image very seriously and I have a responsibility to promote positive ideals for love and relationships, not let her follow her whims about any and everything. I’m not naive that she might read Twilight someday even if I don’t allow it. And as I said in the disclaimer, if that’s something she wants to do when she’s 17, I’m not going to forbid it. But at 11? No. The books we read are formative and children are being formed into the people they will become. Your mother may not have succeeded in keeping you from reading the book that was too mature for you, but because she loves you, she did not hand over a book she knew would be disturbing and inappropriate for your age. Just because you went behind her back doesn’t mean that she didn’t make a good parenting choice. You can read more in the post: http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/09/17/should-you-limit-your-childs-reading-choices/

  42. Naomi says

    Yikes! You’ve taken a big hit for this post, and as a fellow mom of a daughter, I’m sorry. I have to agree with your every word here, and to me it’s truly snobbish of others who call your parenting into question because you desire to develop true taste and character in your children. Obviously, discouraging them from filling their minds with crap is one of the best ways to do this. It actually just makes me sad that so few people have the understanding that what goes in our minds has the great potential to damage our hearts and minds, particularly those of young people that are in critical stages of devolopment. Good for you for looking ahead for your daughter. She will thank you for it, I’m sure.

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Naomi. I think you are absolutely right that we underestimate the influence of what we surround ourselves with.

  43. Jeanie Prichard says

    So true!! Made my daughter wait to read it. She had already read all the Harry Potter books twice! The Hunger Games, etc… She is only thirteen and came to me after reading Twilight with a few remarks. She hated it because of Bella Swan! I was so proud of her that day! :)

  44. says

    Nah…. you are thinking WAY too deeply about a book that wasn’t meant to be deep. My daughter read it, I read it, an occasional “eh” book doesn’t hurt anyone.

  45. Crystal says

    While I couldnt agree more, I dont see the harm in allowing your (Of age) daughter read the Twilight Saga when the time comes. There are worse books out there ;) However, I agree 100% about the classics..They are the TRUE romance novels. Im a 31 yr old mom of a beautiful 4 yr old girl. She is my world. I always want the best for her, and it would be an honor to me if she loved books as much as I do. We read about 4-6 books daily, and she cant get enough :)
    I have to admit…and Im not totally ashamed of it either…I thought the Twilight Series was cute. I enjoyed it. Not as much as Ive enjoyed some of my favorite classics, but, I did! Theyre horribly written, but I didnt care! Haha! Another admission….Fifty Shades. LOL! HORRIBLE! however, if it werent for Fifty, my newound love of Thomas Hardy novels would not have been born <3. I believe books open the doors to other literature. If you read one of Miss Austen's books, youre probably going to read them all. Then, when you have finished, you may research other classics written in the time period, and so on. So, While I couldnt agree with you more on how horribly written the Twilight Saga was…I wouldnt have a problem allowing my teen to read it. God Bless <3

  46. Hope says

    First off I’m 11 years old. I’ve read the series and I love it! My mom read it and I guess you can call her a Twimom. I would love to read some of your novels because to put your work out on the line for EVERYONE to read it is really hard! I hate reading my short stories in English class and would be scared to death to write a novel and have so many bad things said about it. I actually read the books after I saw the firsts movie at a friends and was hooked. I asked my mom and she said I could read them all. I’ve read scarier books like Desperation and I’ve had the baby talk with my mom so the sex scenes didn’t bother me. Not planning on talking about it with my friends but whatever.

    I don’t regret reading the books. It gave mom and me more to talk about and we actually spent a day at the marathon at the theater. I started writing short stories for fun. I asked mom for other books to read and right now I’m ready Little Women and want to read The mortal Instruments series next. I have also read the Hunger Games and don’t see how Renesme is worse than computer made animals that are brought to life from the dead players that attacks Katniss and Peeta or how Harry Potter can do all the things he did. It’s fiction, I know it’s not real so why are you acting like kids are too dumb to realize its all fake! My favorite thing one of my teachers said is everything I do makes me the person I am and I love me :)

    My dad isnt’t a fan but he tells me at least I’m reading and not doing something stupid or causing trouble. So I guess I could skip the bad reads and start smoking pot and getting pregnant like my friend that’s only 13.

    • Haley says

      Hi, Hope. I’m thrilled that you’ve developed a love for reading (Little Women is one of my absolute favorites!). My concern isn’t at all that readers have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality (kids are for too clever for that, as you pointed out). My concern lies in the meaning of the book, the significance, the message. In addition to its poor quality, Twilight presents lies about love. Harry Potter on the other hand, although also fictional, is a story that understands love and presents it beautifully. And, yes, I’m sure you can always find something worse to do. But why settle for “not the worst”?

      • Hope says

        It’s your opinion that they are poorly written. She must be doing something right to sell all those books. Anyways I think many stories including classics lie about love. I like Romeo and Juliet, he kills himself because he thinks she’s dead when she’s really not. When she wakes up she sees him dead and kills herself. They killed themselves because they couldn’t be together. How is that different from Edward and Bella? He is willing to die when he thinks she is dead from jumping off the cliff and she is willing to take his place with the Volturi. The whole he loves her but she loves someone else is in tons of books I’ve read. My language arts teacher tells us it’s all about perception, and not to belittle others interests just because you don’t like them or see them in the same way. My art teacher teaches me the same when it comes to my paintings. Sometimes I paint real life stuff and get judged for not being exact in shape or color. Then I can do abstract work and get judged because its called weird or dumb because it doesn’t make sense. Twilight and Harry Potter are both good in their own ways. I don’t know why everyone wants to compare the two, its annoying to bash one of my favorite series with another one. As for ‘not the worst’ that’s my dad talking about me reading in general because I read stuff like wimpy kid or comic books too. He told me I should read Dean Koonts because he’s read almost all of them and it would give us something to talk about. I don’t think I’m settling so I’m not sure why you are putting words in my mouth. I don’t settle when I read, I choose to read, just like I choose to paint, play the clarinet, or learn the guitar. As for your title about your daughter. Why are you are more worried about what books she may enjoy instead of all the other influences kids deal with everyday. Teach your daughter about peer pressure, eating disorders and help her set goals in her life so she knows what she wants and works to get there and not lose them. Like I said I’m only 11 and its weird to my friends that I already know I want to do everything art for college and go to an Art Institute. They call me a nerd for reading for fun, writing short stories, and painting things for my family. I guess my point is let your daughter form her own opinion on stuff not yours.

  47. says

    I love this post and all the response. I happen to agree with you about the series. I read the books. I don’t like that so many young girls are reading them while forming their ideas about love.
    I am a new author of ebooks for teens, their mothers, aunts, cousins and friends. I hope someday you want your daughter to read the Saginaw Series.
    http://amzn.to/SuRAN0

  48. ty says

    While I agree with your basic description of Ms. Meyer’s books, I must say that your assessment of her lack of knowledge when it comes to “true love” in her personal life is uncalled for. It’s an outright attack on her as a person. She may not be a literary legend, but for goodness sake, let the girl have her own opinion. Are you an expert on true love? I know I’m not and I’ve been happily married for 20 years! Let she who is without sin cast the first stone…

    • Haley says

      Ty, I certainly didn’t intend to personally attack Ms. Meyer and I hope I made it clear when I said that I don’t know the first thing about her personal life. Does she have true love? I wouldn’t know. Is her depiction of love in these books accurate, healthy, or good? No. Can she have her own opinion? Clearly, as she gave us several books full of her opinion about love! I also have my opinion, and as this is my personal blog, I get to share it here :)

  49. Carly says

    “The boring protagonist Bella and her boyfriend who, I must add, is shockingly dull for being a 100-year-old sparkly vampire…”

    Yes, yes, yes!!! I actually read and enjoyed the Twilight books, but I also agree with everything you say here! Mindless read, absolutely no basis in reality OR in fantastical romance, and not very well-written, either. And oh my goodness, I love that you voiced one of my biggest irritations about the books: Those two are just so BORING!!

    Also, one caveat: I think the second half of the last book was the only part of the whole series worth reading, so if you could screw up the courage, you might give it one more try. Bella becomes a little more self-possessed and intelligent as a vampire, for one thing, but most fascinating to me was thinking of Bella’s transformation in context of our new bodies we will receive in heaven after we shed these earthly shells! She speaks of it as “the way she was meant to be,” and she can see new colors, see and hear everything as it really is, etc. I doubt that’s what Miss Meyer had in mind, but it’s what I was thinking! :-)

  50. Tiffany says

    I’m curious about your thoughts regarding Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV series, not the movie) and her relationship with Angel, a 242-year old vampire. Obviously Buffy isn’t a literary character, but the thing that always drew me to her was her independence, strength and vulnerability. I’ve never read one word of the Twilight series (and proud of it, too!), but everything I have seen about it portrays Bella as a damsel in distress. So not Buffy, or any of the women in that show! I am so glad that there are people out there who feel the same way I do about Twilight; that there are much better role models for our young girls to look up to.

    • Haley says

      Interesting thought, Tiffany. I’m familiar with the series but I haven’t given much thought to the idea of Buffy as a role model. At least she and Angel aren’t boring! :) But, I think Joss Wheddon’s romantic relationships can be pretty twisted sometimes and some of his female characters (like Faith) end up using their sexuality to manipulate others which I think is a negative trait for women and men. I’d have to think about it more! Thanks for the insightful comment.

  51. Melanie says

    I am a senior in college, and I read the Twilight books a few years ago because I thought my initial hesitation to the series MUST have been wrong with the ridiculous craze it acquired. Needless to say, I now know my initial feeling was correct.
    I want you to know that I admire your take on the subject with your daughter.
    By the time I started Twilight, I was old enough to make my own decisions about what I read, but my mother read to me and encouraged me to read constantly as a child – things like C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Tolkien. She is also the reason I have such a deep love of anything Austen. By the time I was forcing myself through the Twilight books (like you, I could not even finish the last one), I knew better. I knew that my friends must not have been as blessed as I to have a mother who instilled a true appreciation for literature and for love stories in them. I also knew the pre-teen girls to whom I was teaching dance at the time were being exposed to a seriously unhealthy depiction of a relationship when they all read the books…
    I admire any mom who aspires to have that same influence on her daughter. I am so glad mine did!

    • Haley says

      Thanks for this kind encouragement, Melanie! I was a Laura Ingalls Wilder fanatic as a little girl (who am I kidding? I still adore her) and love Lewis and Tolkien, too :)

  52. Anastasia says

    While I agree that the Twilight series isn’t a great literary work, (Yes, I’ve read all four books and even enjoyed them.) I think that entertainment for entertainment’s sake is just that: entertainment. We don’t need everything we come into contact with in our lives to be educational. How exhausting! For example:
    I grew up spending a lot of time at my best friend’s house. Her mom used every part of their lives to be an example and a life lesson. I always thought it was so tiring to be reminded that a drive to the grocery or the characters in a TV show be used to teach a lesson of some sort. And to be honest, my friend tuned her out much of the time.
    My point it this, while yes, this is not an example of what I want for my daughter’s love life, it’s not something I’m going to make a big deal out of. I’m going to teach her the difference between true love (and by the way, true love isn’t perfect, and Stephenie Meyer herself, on her website, said she’d make very different decisions than Bella if placed in the same situations) and the type of love we find in entertainment then let her make up her own mind.
    Also, you have no way of knowing how mature your daughter will be at 11 or 12. By the time I was that age I was more than mature enough to handle that type of literature. Some girls aren’t. It all boils down to knowing your child and providing an example to live by, because that speaks volumes over what type of entertainment she’ll come into contact with on a daily basis.
    What’s more, I would be willing to bet that Austin and Louisa May Alcott had no intention of putting their characters up on a pedastal to be admirred. They were simply writing books for entertainment purposes, just like Meyer did.

    • Haley says

      Anastasia, I disagree that Austen and Alcott were writing books merely for entertainment. While I agree that they weren’t trying to present their characters all as figures to be admired (and I don’t claim that anywhere), their books deal with matters of virtue. That doesn’t mean that their characters always make good choices (they don’t!) but they are fantastic works with so much to say about character and life.

  53. Charlotte says

    I can’t possibly be happier reading this! I am a college sophomore and I remember when Twilight first came out when I was in middle school. My friends loved the series and I admittedly enjoyed the first three books at the time. And then I grew up and read The Hunger Games, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights, and so many more classics and learned about real love and real women. If God blesses me with daughters I will make it my mission to give them better books and a better role model than frail, insecure Bella Swan. If girls want a role model or love story about an “average or plain” woman that they can relate to, then they need to read Jane Erye. Nobody was more plain and more ordinary, and more loving, independent, and wonderful than Jane.

  54. Kathy says

    I am shocked that you are so vehemently against a book series. Perhaps it showed you something you were missing in your life. I read all of the books, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. I happen to have a lot in common with Bella, though. My parents divorced when I was young, and I was raised by my dad who was gone a lot. I met my husband in high school, so it brought back some amazing memories. We had an instant connection, and have been together since. We have an amazing little girl, and I wish that our little family could be together forever without illness, or old age separating us. Ido find it extremely fascinating that you are more excited about The Hunger Games, where children are forced to kill each other violently to survive. Also, that your chosen heroine chooses to kill her friend who helps her, while mine learns to protect them all. It doesn’t bother me that you dislike Twilight, but that you classify the Hunger Games as any better is disgusting. Oh, and Renesmee is a silly name, but Katniss isn’t?

  55. Amber says

    I agree with you Kathy, Twilight is an amazing book series and I LOVE it, along with millions of other readers. Most likely the reviewers daughter will read it anyway and fall in love the series! I am a lover of books of all kinds. I thought the Twilight series was perfect, I loved all the characters and what they stood for. I cried with them and laughed with them and love Edward. The last book was a favorite. Stephanie Meyers is a wonderful writer and I enjoy her style very much. Everyone is untitled to their opinion, I just had to take a second to say how much I completely disagree with this review. My entire family loved the series, my husband and 3 boys. Since I’ve gone this far, I may as well add that I think the hunger games is awful. The movie made me feel like I was in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. It felt like I fell asleep after studying WWII, reading The Lord Of The Flies all while Lady GaGa videos were mindlessly playing in the background! Horrible! But, then again, who doesn’t love watching and reading about kids killing each other. So, if I had to choose, I’ll take my Twilight series, thanks. I would still allow my children to read The Hunger Games and make their own choices. I for one will let all my boys read Twilight and watch the movies. If more guys treated women in the same way Edward does, with respect, love and old fashioned values, the world would be a better place!!! My 2 cents :)

  56. Mia says

    You hate vampires, oh well. I can’t help but to feel peeved with your attitude about the Twilight series. Stephanie Meyers is not a bad writer. I’m pretty sure she got A’s in all her english and grammar classes in school growing up, as did I. My daughter is an excellent reader, and has been reading quality literature as well as plain old fun books since she was a preschooler, both fiction and non-fiction. She has read the Guinness Book of World Records, dictionaries, encyclopedias, she loves mythology, classic fairy tales from around the world, the Harry Potter series, the Little House on the Prairie series, Anne of the Green Gables, A Little Princess, The Hunger Games, Little Women, and Judy Blume books, Ivy and Bean, and Junie B. Jones when she was younger… This year I decided to allow her to read the Twilight series, being we have talked about puberty, sex, and relationships, and I continue to have an open door policy with her. I watched the movies with her, and we chose to fast-forward the sex scenes. My daughter is smart, and if you can’t counterbalance the media’s influence on kids realistically and openly, then you are inviting trouble and confusion. Exposure to popular culture is inevitable. Edward loves Bella in the series, and would do anything for her, including let her go for her safety and well-being. He doesn’t forbid her to do anything or be anything. He is not jealous or controlling. I don’t understand how you believe you can offer a constructive opinion about a genre you don’t like.

    • Haley says

      Mia, I’m not sure where you got the impression that I don’t like vampires. I love stories about vampires and I say so in the post:

      “I can’t wait till you’re old enough to read George MacDonald’s Lilith. It’s my favorite vampire book. I just want you to read really splendid books about vampires, not lame ones.”

  57. says

    How can anyone say that the Twilight series is a good series for teenage girls, when Bella and Edward’s relationship has all 15 signs of an abusive relationship set by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. That is not something I would want my daughter to read about. My teenage sister tried to read the series, but only read the first one. This is because she saw the relationship for what it was controlling and abusive.

  58. Katie Rivera says

    I could not agree more! I read the books at my cousins request and while I did manage to finish them (you’re 150% right about creepy vampire baby btw) they just refused to sit right with me. Since reading them I’ve begun attending Latin Mass services and there my faith has grown so much stronger. I began to realize why they didn’t sit well. Aside from wanting to live forever (which sounds exhausting in and of itself but you will literally never sleep again?! Now THAT’S torture) these people don’t love each other. There is no gentle affection or giving in their relationship. They’re obsessed with each other in an obviously unnatural way that troubles me. She chooses him and his family over parents that obviously love her and want nothing more than to protect her. I would never do that. I honestly don’t think I ever could do that. It causes me actual pain thinking that girls will grow up desiring Edward Cullen instead of Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester. The world deserves more than the Twilight series.

  59. Elizabeth says

    Let me preface my comment by saying that I have read the whole series, as well as Meyer’s “The Host” which is actually a more intriguing story, although not because it is a love story, which is not how I read it, but because of the questions it poses about what makes a human…But, I digress, whether you enjoyed or hated the books isn’t really the point. By the time our daughters are old enough to be reading these books, I suspect that Bella Swan will have faded into relative obsurity, and something new, and equally poorly written/developed, is likely to be the new must read for the YA market.
    While I hesitate to call the Twilight series “literature” (they fall more into the pulp fiction category for me) I don’t think I would ban my daughter from reading them. She would need to be at least junior high age, not 10 or 11, but if all her friends were reading the books, I wouldn’t necessarily stop her from reading them, and this is my reason why…
    The Twilight books do provide a good amount of conversation fodder about what relationships should be and how to be a whole person with or without a boyfriend. No, Bella does not show anyone how to be a happy, well adjusted person, nor do any of the other characters. Meyer’s does not depict a healthy relationship, but she can help open the door to discussing why this is not the way things should be.
    Unfortunately, many books, tv shows and movies geared to pre-teen and teenage girls promote the Romeo & Juliet type romance, but in their retellings, they seem to forget that the tale was a tragedy. The Twilight series is just the latest variant on this story. It seems to me that it will be all but impossible to prevent her exposure to this idea, so planting the seeds that will cause her to question whether this is a role model or simply a silly, shallow, sad girl, is the most important thing to do. This type of discussion will help her even into adulthood, because the silly, sad, dependent female character is found in adult books, shows and movies just as often.

  60. says

    Haley,
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a good book is judged by the reader.
    I am not a fan of the Twilight series for many of the reasons that you stated. However, in all fairness, if the writing from Miss Meyers truly was as bad as your opinion states, I do not think it would have been as successful as it was. The comments you had about her left a bad taste in my mouth.
    Having said that, I do agree that the books are highly inappropriate for preteens. My oldest is 12 and I am thankful for the fact that her desire in reading this particular series is slim to none. We have taught her all along to Love God first, respect herself, teach her the value of the quality of friendships, not the quantity, etc… SHE made the decision to not read these books. I guess my point is this, teach her along the way and she will learn from it.

  61. Mama Cat says

    D Love this post! I subscribed after reading about your AFP. :-). We are Catholic and practicing NFP. Not quite as awesome, but with kids ages 7, 5, and not yet 2, all c-sections, we are trying to discern i f at 35 I am physically ready to do that again. Lol This post reminds me about the discussion I had with my 5 year old about why I won’t buy him a DS. He can read already and I cannot claim credit for that, but he enjoys his Tag reader and educational games on PBSKIDS.org and we are currently reading The Chronicles of Narnia together. In other words, I direct him to better things than what his friends are doing. When “because I love you too much to feed you garbage” didn’t seem compelling to him, I told him he would understand someday when he is the guy always paying for the pizza when his friends are adults. 

  62. Carmen says

    I was “forced” to watch the Breaking Dawn: Part I with my sister. I figured since my kids and I were spending the night at her apartment for the weekend, I could suffer through it for her (my sister’s sake – it was a sacrificial act of gratitude). Well, I didn’t care for it (some serious parts made me want to laugh, and there were so many inconsistencies that I was confused, and I suffered through the first one’s because of my spouse!) The part where she died, I thought, was the most interesting part, and I commented to my sister that her acting was great as she played dead. My sister burst out laughing, saying that they used a dummy for that part! I about died from laughter.

    Long story short: my little girl won’t be watching those movies anytime soon. As for the books, they don’t exist. SpongeBob SquarePants is written better.

  63. Ninette says

    I agree with you about the books not being the greatest examples for young girls but, I must say, as a 20 year old who has read all the books and seen all the movies, it definitely helped me learn a thing or two about life.
    First of all, I NEVER want to be a whiny girl like Bella. She was very annoying in the books and I have tried so hard to not be like her.
    Second of all, I have learned that sometimes love is worth fighting for. Yes, I know that Twilight isn’t the best example of love but they end up together and happy, not because they broke up and found each other years later (like a typical chick-flick) but because they fought for what they truly wanted.
    Third, Twilight is something that I keep around when school and everything is getting to be too much and I just need a mindless book to sit down with that I dont have to work to understand the language or really think about. It’s so much better than buying a magazine and reading about the latest celebrity gossip or seeing the super skinny models and lowering my self-esteem.

    That’s not the only reason you shouldn’t be so against Twilight though. What is the difference between Twilight books and any chick flick? In chick flick the girl is always helplessly in love, the guy is a jerk to her, and she ends up sickeningly happy in love in the end. Isn’t that exactly what Twilight is?

    And lastly, I have to say that I was really lucky, my parents let me read whatever I wanted. They may have made sure it wasn’t too old for me but most of the time they based what I read off of what I wanted and what my maturity level was. Not my age or what they like. That is why I have such a love for books. I got to find out my favorites on my own. I’ve read countless books that I hated, one example is Pride and Prejudice. Nobody forced me to read it though, it was my own choice. My parents gave me the free will to decide what I should read. They always talked to me about what I was reading though, and read the books with me, so that I could discuss it with someone and have a rounder opinion of it. I think that is better that forbidding your child to read something. Reading is a gift that too many people don’t take advantage of, why would what to steer your child away from that?

    • Haley says

      You are so right about most chick flicks! It is so frustrating! The guy is a jerk and doesn’t have anything together and yet is supposed to be some sort of romantic hero. Bleh!

      And my desire is certainly NOT to deter my children from loving to read. Both my kids read ALL THE TIME and I love it. I also think it’s important to give children a lot of choice in what they want to read. I remember trying to check out chapter books from my school library that were supposedly above my grades “reading level” and the librarian wouldn’t let me–until my mother wrote a firm, but tactful letter explaining that I was to be allowed to check out any book I wanted! However, I think there are certain situations when it’s appropriate to deny or at least delay a child’s desire to read a book if the material is too disturbing (I tried to read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at age 7 and was traumatized by the child rape scene) or if the message of the book is deemed so negative without any real redeeming qualities. The books we read do form us into the people we become and I for one would like my daughters to wait until they’re no longer preteens to be influenced by the terrible message of the Twilight series.

  64. Samantha says

    While these books are insanely popular now, I doubt they’ll be nearly as popular in ten or so years. At least, I’ll be surprised if they still have a large fan base then pushing them. They certainly aren’t the classics that Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter have become. So what if they’ve been made into movies? Every book has at this point.

  65. carmen says

    I love Twilight and I’m Catholic!! Edward’s inner turmoil reminded me of the struggle we go through with our own desires… I mean, you can’t always be thinking that kids don’t know the difference between fantasy and reality… no matter how you raise them, eventually we all learn to distinguish between FAKE and REAL and obviously vampires are fake. Edward’s being a vampire is metaphorical. And you know what? I love that he teaches Bella how to be a lady… he’s the one that shows her how sacred sex is, that it should wait until marriage when it’s FULL COMMITMENT, you know? Bella obviously came from a broken marriage and she had major issues with the concept of marriage, but Edward being traditional was able to help her. PLUS, Bella in turn teaches Edward to be pro-life as she is completely willing to die for her baby rather than abort it. It’s really beautiful. I love Twilight, I don’t think it’s gross. 50 Shades is gross and pathetic and has no moral value whatsoever.

  66. Rosie says

    I cant agree more. I might add that beyond being a lame romance, it is a highly inappropriate romance. Honestly, who sneaks into their girl friend’s room to watch them sleep. Ultimately CREEPY. I will admit that the book is good at one things, and that is arousing those feeling (aka hormones) of your very first love. However, I am of the opinion that until someone has experienced those feelings first hand, they SHOULD NOT read the Twilight series. I can’t tell you how many people I know, both young girls and women in struggling relationships, who after reading the books, have gain twisted expectation of how love is supposed to feel, and what it is like.
    I agree, my young daughters will not be reading these books. It bothers me that these are marketed to young girls, because the content is not Tweenage content. If my girls want to read them when they are young adults, then so be it, hopefully by then I have exposed them to enough literature that they will be able to recognize a good book when they read it.

  67. Robin says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You may have opened a whole can of worms with this post. I want to hop on a soap box and go nuts, but I’ll refrain as I’m preaching to the choir. I am hoping by the time I have a daughter, Twilight will disappear into oblivion and I won’t even have to have this discussion with her.

    Probing question that is only slightly related: it seems like these days there are a lot “hero” in pop fiction is very emo. They are reluctant heroes, which I think is fine, but they are sullen, unhappy, uninteresting, often angry people. Bella is a good example, as is Katniss. Regardless of the value of the overall BOOK, how do you feel about current depictions of heroism? Or maybe I’m totally off my rocker?

    • Haley says

      Hmmm, that’s a really interesting insight, Robin. I haven’t really thought about that before but now you’ve got me thinking!

  68. says

    Love this post!
    I’m a Catholic mama to a toddler daughter whom I hope will be more Elizabeth Bennet and Katniss Everdeen than Bella Swan. If she does insist upon twilight I’ll read it with her and snark all over it.

  69. says

    Awesome blog post. I’m pretty sure I threw the book across the room when I got to the Jacob/baby imprinting situation.

    I have a son (so far) but I am also a youth group leader for our young women. Aside from the ridiculousness mentioned above, the young men that are idealized in these novels are the worst examples of guys these ladies should be looking to date/be courted by. I’m never sure what to tell them because I am not their parents…

    • Haley says

      Haha, I did the same thing at that part. WHAT? And I completely agree. Your opinion might be really important to the girls you mentor :)

  70. Emily says

    The only reason I disagree with this post is because of how long I worked at a bookstore. I worked at a bookstore for years. Teen girls will always gravitate to the teen section. It is in their nature to want to read secular teen books. And speaking as someone who has read a great majority of them including Twilight, Stephenie Meyer’s books are a far cry from the remainder of them. Consider others in the same genre. Vampire Diaries – teenagers in this one drink, do drugs, sleep very casually with one another, oh and yes there is also black magic. Blue Blood Series – the teenagers go to modeling jobs where they expose themselves, everything is about wealth and status, and yes the main characters sleep with one another. The P.C. Cast books are filled with witchcraft and black magic. I’ve even seen girls reading the Sookie Stackhouse books, which are full of erotica.
    Now I will agree to Bella being a horrible example to teen girls. She continually leads the main characters on. However, for a ‘book series’ which has minimal violence, no drugs, no drinking, no exposure, NO SEX before marriage because the main character believes in abstinence and promotes it while refusing to sleep with the main character because he wants to preserve her virtue, and then on top of that, the very pro life message the final book gives when Bella wishes to keep her baby even if the baby is a threat to her life, I would much rather have my teen daughter reading this than 99% of other teen books out there. I will not let my daughter read Harry Potter when she’s a teenager because it promotes the use of casual magic and disregard for rules and regulations whereas Twilight promotes an essence of family involvement. Bella and Edward spend a great deal of time with his family, and despite a divorce situation, Bella’s father tries to be involved in her life. And for all the people who believe Edward is controlling, I always saw him as very protective. I read these books with my husband, and he remembers the experience as some of the best moments we had together because he saw a lot of Edward in himself. There is a sense of growth in Edward, how by the third book he has transformed to allowing Bella to become more independent ie letting her ride her motorcycle. If he were controlling and abusive, he wouldn’t allow that but he does and he also gives her a leather jacket to protect her as well as a helmet. Considering Bella willingly places herself in dangerous situations in all the books, I can’t blame Edward for being super protective of her which comes across to women, who don’t like to be dominated, as controlling. My husband wouldn’t want me going out and riding a motorcycle with little to no practice either so if that makes him controlling, then so be it. If you take the movies apart from the books, of course you will not see this, but there is much more involved in the Twilight books than in the films. Not all teenagers are going to want to just read the classics in high school. In contrast, most are not. Teens in the bookstore where I worked made a beeline for the teen section many more times than the classics. They may read some classics. I read the Lord of the Rings but I also have plenty of teen books leftover from my high school days too. Kids will not just read their ‘green veggies’ all throughout their teen years. They will want to read ‘junk food’ at some point too because they are teenagers and they need to read about characters they relate to. And comparing Twilight as junk food, I see it more as the ‘ice cream’ or ‘dark chocolate’ of the bunch compared to the Vampire Diaries ‘Doritos’ or ‘Oreos’. I’ve read a great deal of teen novels and series and always find ones with plenty of negative content.One series, which is considered a juvenile series called the Alanna series features a girl dressing up as a boy and losing her virginity when she is 15. The Sarah Dessen books feature many of the teen girls involved in underage drinking or with negative influences. The new hit series the Mortal Instruments features a homosexual character who ends up kissing another man. The simple matter is you cannot shut teenage girls in a box because they will find ways around it. I know a teen girl who goes to my church, and she watches Vampire Diaries and the extremely sexualized British sitcom Skins. If my daughter were interested in something like Vampire Diaries, which I don’t agree with, the least I would do is sit down and watch it with her or read it with her so we could dissect it together and discuss it together. On things like Game of Thrones, Skins, and True Blood, I would immediately put my foot down and say no. So my question is: Does Twilight get such a bad rap simply because it is so high profile and simple to target and introduced a new trend? Before Twilight, the bookstore where I worked had no fantasy/sci fi sections in the teen area nor did they have paranormal romance. Now teenagers have many options, and those options will continue to grow. Trends come and go, but you have to look at several books in the same genre/trend and compare them to each other and see which one is going to work best for your teen because teens will cater to the trends even if they still read the classics, they will also want to read something trendy too.

    • FDH says

      “I will not let my daughter read Harry Potter when she’s a teenager because it promotes the use of casual magic and disregard for rules and regulations ”

      ^This person.

  71. andee says

    Okay, I agree with all of this. I wouldn’t allow my daughter to read them and I read them all. Here is the thing, there isn’t a reason to not allow her to read a book that you personally think is boring and in no comparison to others (all true statements), I think the true issues are way larger. First, Bella and Edward are in an abusive relationship. I would go into details, but instead, read it here http://shelf-life.ew.com/2009/12/01/edward-bella-abusive-relationship/

    Also, it teaches girls that they can fall in love at first site. They seriously have nothing in common except they are both supposed to be attractive and they are in lust, that is okay to teach our kids? To jump into a relationship with a hot stranger and let him treat you like shit? And then have his kid at 18 and marry him?

  72. Britt says

    Hey there, just wanted to share my story about Twilight.
    When I was in high school, I really loved the series – I had never been in a relationship and they seemed so romantic because Edward seems to love Bella unconditionally.
    When I entered college I met a nice guy and we started dating, and about one year into the relationship I went to reread the first Twilight… oh my god… I was utterly shocked at how shallow the characters were and how their relationship was equivalent to strangers who make out! I had gotten to know my sweetie so much over the course of a year that I simply couldn’t believe how romantic I had envisioned Bella and Edwards’ love, when they have no idea who their significant other is! Reflecting on the series, I realized Bella is a weak, emo girl in a codependant relationship with a stalker who plays the piano and is rich (that’s all I could remember about Edward because his character is so BLAND). So, thank you, for writing this thoughtful letter. I’m sure any children I may have with my sweetie (5 years later and married now!) will be receiving a similar version should the need arise. :)

  73. Nicole says

    I have a confession to make, so embarrassed to admit that I let my 12 year old read these books without any knowledge of the content. I assumed that because everyone else in her class was, they must be OK. Thankfully I have obviously done something right, she read the first and told me after that she was bored. Thank you for making me take a good look at myself, just because a book is popular doesn’t make it appropriate.

  74. RsTuv says

    Um… wouldn’t it be better to let your daughter read it and see for herself how ridiculous it is? You’ve read it and were intelligent enough to figure all of this out- couldn’t she do the same? Better yet– read it together and discuss why these characters are wrong. If you’re wanting her to see how misconstrued the idea of love in the Twilight series is, then she’ll have to read it to understand what you mean, and you would have wonderful discussions of real love vs. hormones and specific examples that she understands the background to.

    • Haley says

      I think the key here is that a preteen girl needs to be reading books that exalt healthy relationships and model what love truly is. Reading it later and discussing the problems of Twilight is fine, but during those formative years for understanding themes of self-image, love vs. infatuation, etc. I would strongly discourage it. And there’s just too many good books to read! Is there time for twaddle? :)

  75. katy says

    Honestly I can’t agree with this, banning books from your childrenis wrong and it will just make them seem more appealing. Just don’t say anything about them to her, by the time she’s 13 they will be old news anyway. If she does read them, let her. If you truly believe she’s so clever then you will trust her to make a sound judgment on them for herself instead of hiding her away from them. A preteen girl will not want to read any of the classic books you’ve included here, they will just make reading seem boring to her, wait until she has matured enough to understand them. And even if she does read twilight, even if she loves the series like so many other teen girls, she’s not going to become Bella swan like you’re so afraid of. Its just a book

    • Haley says

      Hi Katy. I cover most of your objections in this post: http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/09/17/should-you-limit-your-childs-reading-choices/

      But as to your claim: “A preteen girl will not want to read any of the classic books you’ve included here, they will just make reading seem boring to her.”
      That is simply not true. By the time I was twelve I had read Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Anne books, and many more wonderful classics that made me completely fall in love with reading. I think you are seriously underestimating young readers.

  76. says

    I read Twilight because my students were reading it. I didn’t hate it, but I definitely did and do not encourage my students to read it. There are other tween type books (easy, entertaining books) that have great themes and discuss tough topics I would recommend over Twilight. But always, if I could get them to read The Giver or To Kill a Mockingbird, that’s where we started.

    • Haley says

      The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird are so good. I’m so excited to get to read them all over again with my kids! I bet you’re an awesome teacher, Summer! Wish you weren’t moving away!

  77. Erin says

    Although I agree with a lot of the points you made about the books, I have one comment to make. Even though Meyer’s Twilight series is not a award winner as far as literature goes, this series was one of the single reasons why a lot of teenagers started reading again. Then came Hunger Games and same thing there, not a award winner as far as book goes, BUT at least kids were excited about reading and not just playing on their phones. As an adult I don’t always read War and Peace, Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice (classic books you get my point), sometimes what gets me through and excited about reading is a “fluff book”. And that’s what Twilight was for me. An escape to another world. Isn’t that sometimes what reading is about? The classics can be boring and not fun to read sometimes and as an adult your daughter may appreciate the classics (by then Twilight will be OLD by then) BUT at least she would be reading. Maybe it would be a good conversation starter for all your good points to make to her then. More like, I know you this is book is cool but let’s have a real conservation about why, moment. Just my opinion. We need the “Twilight” books in our lives, that way when the EPIC novels come by our hearts we know when to cherish them.

  78. Erin says

    And just to clarify, I don’t care what books you ban for your family. Do what you wish, these are your children, however, just my opinion on books in general and how harshly we criticize “badly written books”

  79. Elaine says

    I agree completely with your post, however I think there is something in particular that is disturbing about the story between Bella and Edward that I didn’t see you mention in the letter or the comments. It has to do with the nature of sex and marriage.

    I remember when these books were the rage with my Christian women friends, and they were excited that there was pop lit out there their girls could read because Bella and Edward don’t have sex until they are married. I didn’t read the books then but I always wondered about them, so I finally got around to it this last year. (I listened to audio books while doing laundry, so no time was wasted!)

    Although there is a lot of questionable stuff going on between Bella and Edward, I was deeply disturbed that sex was actually totally dislocated from marriage by Meyer. Edward wants to marry Bella, but somehow that means she remains ever the virgin. There is understanding of sex as self-giving and an essential component to marriage, nor of reproduction being the natural consequence. Edward’s first impulse toward Bella’s advances in the marital bed was to refuse her, and then when the inevitable happens, to kill the life within her…a twisted and disgusting cherry on an already dangerous co-dependent and harmful relationship. What the heck did Edward think marriage was FOR anyway?

    I am a convert to the Catholic faith. I find Humane Vite one of the most beautiful and complete teachings on human sexuality I’ve ever encountered… so I’m a little sensitive to these things. It’s as if Ms. Meyer took everything that is good and true about human relationships, turned it on its head, and made a romance out of it.

    I just wanted to put this observation out there for if and when your daughter does get around to reading this horrid series. It’s not only in the courtship that things are really sick between Edward and Bella, but in the their ideas about marriage and its TRUE purpose.

  80. narniaelf says

    I’ve read Harry Potter and Twilight multiple times. I didn’t think Harry Potter was the great piece of literature people make it out to be. I’m sorry, from a strictly language point of view, it’s not that much better than twilight. What’s different in Harry Potter is it’s such a well developed story that average writing skill is forgotten.

  81. Chris says

    I’m not a fan of twilight either, to be honest. But I am a librarian in training, and one thing I know is that preventing a child’s right to intellectual freedom is wrong, whether you think a book is stupid or not. If she wants to read it, she has a right to.
    As a mother you shouldn’t stop her, you should just be there to talk it out with her, to discuss your personal views of the book and ask hers, and have a meaningful discussion outlining your reasons for not liking it, and being there to answer her questions and guide her to her own conclusion.
    Just banning the book doesn’t help her critical thinking skills, and she certainly won’t come to the same conclusion as you without the exposure, she may just retaliate and read it secretly at the library, where as a librarian I would not stop her.

    • Chris says

      ps: the your earlier words
      “I want to have an answer prepared when my daughter says, “My friend Susie gets to read the Twilight books and why can’t I?!”

      Your daughter then will most certainly secretly borrow the book from Susie. She does not live on an island. She goes to school for several hours a day, has recess and lunch, and can read the book when you aren’t there to supervise her. The girls will all talk about it at lunch as well.
      Again, it’s better to let her just read it and be there to discuss with her afterwards (I do not advise reading it for her and hovering over her, she needs the space to independently read and thus independently think without your immediate influence). But be there after every night to discuss whatever chapter or chapters she has just finished reading (on her own) and discuss. That’s how you raise a critical thinker but still feel somewhat in control as a parent. She will trust you more for it.

    • Haley says

      Hi Chris, thanks for contributing to the conversation. I’ve always thought it would be so fun to be a librarian. I think you will find responses to many of your objections to my personal parenting choices in this post: http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/09/17/should-you-limit-your-childs-reading-choices/

      “I know is that preventing a child’s right to intellectual freedom is wrong, whether you think a book is stupid or not. If she wants to read it, she has a right to.”
      As for your statement above, there are several things to say. First of all, there is nothing “intellectual” about Twilight. I think we both agree that every child has the right to a good education. However, I don’t think that limiting a child’s reading choices from mindless twaddle diminishes that. Furthermore, I don’t just think Twilight is “stupid.” I think it’ s misogynistic and glorifies unhealthy relationships. I think it is extremely problematic for preteens to read. Where do you draw the line with “intellectual freedom” as you call it? Is it ever OK to censor? Should a child have the right to read 50 Shades of Grey or view porn because “she wants to?” Let me be clear that I’m not putting Twilight in the same category as 50 Shades, I’m just saying that as a librarian it is not your job to guide my child’s reading choices, it is my job and for me, there is a line.

      “Just banning a book doesn’t help her critical thinking skills.” I’m not sure if you didn’t read the caveat I included in the bottom of the post that explains that we will NOT be banning books that are age appropriate and that as teenagers, our children will basically be given free reign, yet as preteens such negative views of women and the glorification of warped relationships will have no place on their reading list. And you are right, just banning a book doesn’t help critical thinking skills. Reading GOOD books helps critical thinking skills. And since preteens can’t drive, I can’t imagine a situation when my daughters are going to be dropped off at the library unsupervised by an adult (we don’t live in a small town and the library is not the sort of place you leave a child unattended.)

      And we homeschool, so I do have much more control over my children’s curriculum than if they were attending conventional school. My oldest is age 4, preschool, and is now reading himself and has enjoyed bedtime readings of The Hobbit, The Little House books, The Chronicles of Narnia, Redwall, and more classics that he can enjoy always. So fun!

      • Chris says

        Thank you for your reply,

        I will show respect by reading the post you have kindly offered, but before I do, just some points about the other things which you brought up in your reply:

        1. “First of all, there is nothing “intellectual” about Twilight.

        Intellectual Freedom doesn’t just mean letting your children read intelligent works. How can they truly know what is an intelligent work if all you expose them to is “intelligent works”? How can they learn what intelligence is when you only give them intelligence? We learn through contrast, though I have to tell you, Jane Austen’s works were first considered the “twilight” of her generation, and yet two hundred years later we love and adore them. Why? Because ideals and values change. I’m sorry, I just went off on a road that I didn’t mean to. The point I was trying to make was this:

        Intellectual Freedom
        “the right of all individuals to read, view, or listen to whatever materials they choose and to speak and write the beliefs and opinions they hold. Intellectual freedom is the basis of democracy and is the core concept upon which libraries are built.” (http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv)

        You daughter will never know what it is to be happy without being sad, what kindness is without expressing rudeness, and what intelligence is without experiencing the “other”, which will go unnamed. I truly believe you are doing her a disservice by not letting her read everything and form an intelligent and critical thinking mind by being able to see the differences. Again, as a parent that is your choice, however I have to admit I am a little frightened by the idea of the helicopter parent who decides and controls everything their child sees and reads (never allowed to take out their own books without their parent watching) until they are a teenager and suddenly able to control it.

        That’s the thing though. Children need to start developing their analytical skills before they come teenagers, so that by the time they are 16, they are mature enough to handle it. If you ban everything “unsuitable” (which you cannot because our media you cannot control: the commercials, the flyers, the images all over the place) if you try to ban everything and leave their analytical skills in poor shape by the time they are 16 or 17 they won’t be ready! They’ll be overly dependent on you and perhaps even then they cannot read twilight with independent thoughts and a sturdy mind capacity to separate themselves from it and ask the questions that need to be asked. You have stifled this part of their growth when they were “too young”for anything inappropriate.

        I’m having a hard time here because I do not wish to be rude and I do not wish to offend you, but this sort of thing makes me passionate because I really am concerned about young minds and their growth and development to be independent and critical thinkers.

        Yes twilight is “misogynistic and glorifies unhealthy relationships” which is why I would let my daughter read it if she asks to at 10 or 12, and I’d be there to discuss these issues with her every night. Because I want her exposed to this. These are not just ideas in books. She may encounter this one day in her life, and I want her to be prepared. She can handle it at 10 or 12 because I’ll be right there to guide her. At 16 or 17 she doesn’t need me for that because by then her analytical skills are sharp (as they should be. By the end of high school, students should be critical thinkers), but this sort of brain development is happening in grades 6, 7, and 8, therefore I want to aid her by exposing her to these things (only if she wants. I certainly wouldn’t force twilight on her, as I said I’m not a fan). If she wants to read anything however, I’ll be there to let her read it and I’ll be there to help her get through it.

        Look at Huckleberry Finn. It’s full of racism and racist slurs, and yet children study it in grade 5, at the ages of 9 and 10. That’s because we expect them to be developing their critical thinking skills then, and of course the teacher is there to guide them and help them understand it in a historical sense.

        You have asked: “Is it ever OK to censor?”
        It’s a debated topic in libraries today, but the general principle is no, it’s not. We can provide computers in the children’s area with filters, but if children seek computers in the adult section, we do not stop them. If they want to take out “Mein Kampf” (that’s Hitler’s biography), we do not stop them. I know you are probably gasping right now, but I’ll repeat that: we do not stop them even if they want to take out Hilter’s Biography. That is the library policy.
        Why??????? Because children have agency and if they are being properly schooled or if they have some sort of guidance at home, they are already developing the skills to separate themselves from these things to better understand them. At least children 8 and over are. On a side note, I did take out Mien Kamf when I was 13, in grade 8. My teacher told us to try this experiment, to take it out of the library and see what would happen. Nothing happened. No one stopped me. I read it and was sickened by how horrible Hitler was, but I also learned that people can try so hard to lie in books and it’s my job to think about the bigger picture, and to detect the lies, which I did, at 13. Presumably your daughter could do this with twilight at 11 or 12, if she is raised as a critical thinker, and exposed to all kinds of works.

        “I’m just saying that as a librarian it is not your job to guide my child’s reading choices, it is my job and for me, there is a line.”

        I must beg your forgiveness, but I never made the claim that it was my right or duty to guide your child’s reading choices, and I apologize if you took it as such. My claim, word for word was “she may just retaliate and read it secretly at the library, where as a librarian I would not stop her.”

        To be clear so there is no more confusion, “I would not stop her” simply means that and nothing more. It is not my job to guide children’s reading habits. Now, if they come to me and ask me for help finding a book for a school project, of course I help them find a book on frogs, etc. But in no way would I ever go to a child and actively tell them to read something, especially not twilight (ugh). Again, it’s simply a matter that I would not stop your daughter, because as a librarian (technically still in training) there is a code I follow, which is a child’s right to intellectual freedom, and therefore I will not withhold any information from her and anyone else.

        “we will NOT be banning books that are age appropriate and that as teenagers, our children will basically be given free reign, yet as preteens such negative views of women and the glorification of warped relationships will have no place on their reading list.”

        Again, as I said above, the appropriate age “teenager” as you say, is already too late because by then they should have already developed their critical thinking skills enough to handle twilight on their own (15-18). It’s at 12, 13, 14 that you should be there reading with them and guiding them. Of course I understand girls at 15, 16, have body issues and confidence issues; that was me 10 years ago! Again though, you can be there to talk with them though if you have raised a critical thinker they will already be smart enough to distance themselves from the text, and besides, we know that children who play video games do not grow up to be murderers (unless you a part of the select few who still believe that, in which case nevermind), so why would this hurt her, unless she hasn’t been taught to engage with the text objectively?

        I guess my main point here is that your daughter will eventually have to live in the real world. Now she is homeschooled, so you can control that part of her life. However that won’t always be the case. She needs to be equipped with the proper skills to get through life, and that includes critical thinking. If you control what she reads and only give her “intelligent” works, how will she be able to deal with “unintelligent” works when she is finally confronted with them? Waiting until she is a teenager is honestly too late (her mental growth will be stunted compared with other teenagers her age). It’s like keeping your child in a spot clean environment away from any bad germs…which we know in the end can make your child very very sick. We need exposure to all things to be healthy. I am not advocating “shove twilight down her throat” no no, I’m advocating, let her read what she wants, and when she picks an unintelligent book use it as a learning experience!

        “Reading GOOD books helps critical thinking skills.”

        Yes, but so does reading the bad :)

        ps: I love that your young child is reading the hobbit. That is amazing.
        pss: I hope I don’t come on too strongly. At the end of the day I think you are wonderful for wanting to give your children the best books. Narnia, and LOTR, etc. I just have to argue on the basis of being a librarian and what librarians stand for, please forgive me that fault.

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