Should You Limit Your Child’s Reading Choices?

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I am surprised by the popularity of a post I wrote a few weeks ago: “Why You Can’t Read Twilight: A Letter to My Daughter,” and I’m simply fascinated by some of comments it’s received. Some folks love it, but boy does it rub some people the wrong way!

Many commenters think the idea that I would tell my daughter at say, age 11, that she can’t read Twilight is downright loony and they refer to my daughter’s “right” to read it. Now, I aspire to fight for many rights for my daughter: the right to a loving family, the right to a happy home, the right to a good education, the right to nourishing food, etc. But I guess I just wasn’t familiar with the “right” to read bad novels.

I believe Twilight is a waste of time and poorly written.  And more importantly, it contains unhealthy views of women and relationships that I believe could be detrimental to a young mind’s developing ideas of self, love, and relationships. But I don’t think Twilight is really the issue. The real question is: Is it crazy to not let your child read certain books? Should we, as parents, limit our children’s reading choices?

Many critics of my decision to say “No” to Twilight just hated the idea that I was taking away a choice my daughter might want to make. If only I “trusted” her to make the right decisions, they lament, instead of limiting her choices!  This line of thinking surprised me because limiting choices is simply part of being a parent. Few parents I know would allow their very young children to view R rated movies, for example. As parents, we strive to offer our children good choices that are appropriate for their age and maturity level. We do not offer them choices that we are fully aware are inappropriate or may cause them harm. We might allow our child to make the choice to ride a bike, but we would not allow her to make her own decision about whether or not she wanted to ride on a busy street without a helmet at night. We do not say, “You want to go to the mall instead of school today? Great! I respect your ability to make decisions!” Sorry. As parents, we limit choices. It’s just what we do.

Perhaps a better example is how parents deal with food choices. My 3-year-old son would eat candy for every meal if I recognized his “right” to eat whatever he desired. If I acquiesced to his constant requests for sweets, with the full knowledge that I was causing him physical harm, that he would likely develop diabetes, and that he was missing out on all the nourishing foods his body needs because he was filling up with sugar, I would not be a good mother. And it’s not because I don’t “trust” him. It’s because I know that he is three and that as a young child, the allure of sweets is stronger than his nutritional knowledge and his ability to make great choices regarding food. So, what do I do? When he asks for a treat I offer him good choices: peanut butter and apples, dried fruit, etc. Things that have nutritional value, won’t harm his body, and might partly satiate his desire for a sweet treat. Through offering him these choices rather than junkfood, I am teaching him healthy eating habits he can carry with him through life. So when the day comes when he is making all of those decisions himself, he will have a developed palate for good foods and the knowledge needed to nourish his body well. Does that mean that he won’t ever make bad choices? No. He might eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for every meal. My concern is doing the task before me well: giving him the right tools he needs to be able to make good decisions about food.

Why isn’t it the same story with books? Do we not really believe that the books we read form us into the people we are? I want to offer beautiful and good literature for my daughter’s developing mind and soul rather than presenting her with the ultimate junkfood of books. In other words, I want to help her develop a taste for good literature. Because I’ve been an 11-year-old girl and—while I’d love to pretend that I had everything figured out as a pre-teenlet’s be honest: I was still forming crucial ideas, particularly about love and relationships. Would I have had the maturity to see through the ridiculousness of Meyer’s series at that age? Doubtful. It’s written to appeal to a fantasy of immature ideas of love. It’s MADE to be enticing to preteens. It’s even enticing to some grown women. Now, does this mean that as a teenager, my daughter won’t be allowed to read it if she really wants to? No. I hope that by that age she would have fallen so in love with good literature that reading Twilight would be an unattractive option to her. But she very well might read it some day. I’m not worried about that. My job is to offer her books that will nourish her developing mind, aren’t a waste of time, and that don’t present her with terrible relationship models during her formative years. If and when she gets her hands on Twilight, she will already be well-versed in truly good literature. And whether she likes Twilight or not, she will at least see its inadequacies.

Some of the other popular arguments for why I should let my children read Twilight are interesting, as well. One argument in their favor claims that the books are entertaining. But, to say that something is entertaining is not to say that it is good or that it is bad. It merely means that it holds your attention. Most parents have some sort of guidelines about what movies their children are allowed to view…and it doesn’t have anything to do with how entertaining the film may or may not be. Others said that reading Twilight is a positive thing because it’s better than just sitting in front of the TV, not reading ever, or reading books like 50 Shades of Grey. So, reading Twilight is better than frying your brain, being illiterate, or reading the most inappropriate book for children that you can think of? Wow! Impressive. Can’t we offer our kids better options than “well, it’s not the worst thing you could do with your time”? Why settle? Another recommendation is that the Twilight series is easy and gets kids reading. Seventeen magazine is easy reading, but nobody’s vouching for it’s literary value or that it spurs young readers on to great heights of literary achievement.

I have been advised by the Twilight fans that my daughter will hate me forever and eternally resent my decision to not let her read Meyer’s literary atrocity as a pre-teen. To be honest…I’m just not really worried about it.

My job as a parent is to do what is best for my children. It would be great if, one day, my daughter were able to fully understand and appreciate every decision I make concerning her. Sure, it would be sad if my daughter resents my decisions. But those decisions are based on well-thought-out reasons and I am not going to change them to satisfy the whims of a child.

Do you think it’s appropriate to limit your child’s reading choices? Join the conversation! 

(This post is linked-up today at The Parent ‘Hood)

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey smart lady! I totally see your side on this. Not only do I think parents have a right to what their children read and view, they SHOULD have a say! It is incredibly important to keep tabs on what our kids are doing. Should we trust our kids? Sure, but I help with our church’s youth group and I see a lot of well meaning parents who are ‘trusting’ their kids in the wrong way and their children are making adult decisions that could ruin their life. Reading Twilight may not ruin a kids life, but it could certainly make some very bad impressionn such young, moldable minds. I think the fact that it ch a sensation makes it much more dangerous than just entertaining. Left and right I see h.s. age (or younger) getting pregnant on purpose because they want to live happily ever after forever without seeing the consequences of what theure doing. I blame the social media and lack of parenting. So yes, DOR THE LOVE of GOD, and I mean that whole heartedly, PLEASE have a say in what your children are doing!

    • Haley says

      I think you are so right that there is a right and a wrong way to “trust” your kids depending on their age and what is appropriate for them.

  2. Lindsey says

    I think it’s a bad idea to make any parenting choices based on whether or not our kids will like us for them. And I’m pretty relaxed in many ways. I want my kid to explore, make messes, and get skinned knees. I want those things because I believe they will help him learn and develop (and they’re fun and it takes too much energy to be a controlling parent). But I admit, I don’t get the whole “trust” thing. I don’t trust people: not myself, not my spouse, not my kids. People aren’t inherently good; they’re sinful. Maturity is learning this fact and recognizing your need for boundaries, wise counsel (and most importantly, for a Savior). As my kids transition to making more and more of their own decisions, it won’t be because I trust them but rather because I trust God’s sovereign work in them. And now that little sinful soul I have been given to guide is tugging at me and begging “up,” so I think it’s time to go play trucks.

  3. says

    This is a great post! We made choices based on their ages. A lot of times we’d let them read it, but I’d read along with them so we could have a conversation about what they were reading. Throughout the years, my kids began to recognize good literary writing from bad….good content, from bad.
    Thanks for linking up at The Parent ‘Hood!
    ~Kristin

  4. says

    Girl! You wouldn’t believe the battle I faced a few years ago when all my daughter’s friends were reading Twilight (in elementary school!). I received the constant question from other parents, why was I okay with Harry Potter and not Twilight. I agree with you, parents do what they think is best for their children/family and sometimes that includes limiting their options. I told my daughter, there are hundreds of books that she could choose to read at that time, Twilight was not one of them.

  5. says

    I’m with you. And there’s a lot of things I could say about people who are picking your stance apart but on a book? Come on. We teach our children to read, watch, eat, practice, etc all things by limiting or structuring them along the way. It’s part of our job. I actually just blogged on the philosophy of parenting and what it’s truly our job to do. The small decisions along the way – we have to make based on our morals. And truly, I saw it as an anecdotal post where you were expressing something that was important to you but didn’t necessarily apply to all. I’m glad you went back through things. And so graciously.

  6. says

    Personally, I don’t think Twilight will still hold a place in most libraries in 10-15 years. It’s a fad read, like a lot of the paranormal teen-romance section. The language and references will be so outdated I doubt our kids will connect with the books at all.

    I hope my daughter (if I have one) will fall in love with characters from “romantic” books, but I think Gilbert Blythe or Frederick Wentworth much better choices of a literary crush than Edward Cullen.

    I’ve told many friends that I’ll be encouraging my children to read a lot of “banned” books as they grow up, but I will never encourage them to read this series and I agree, while in the end if they read it they read it (and I’ll still talk to them about why I dislike it so much) I hope I provide them with much better options as well.

    Even though I think the books are atrocious no matter what, I really feel strongly that they are geared towards an inappropriate audience when sold to anyone in the 11-17 year old range. Reading it post-high school seems like less of risk to developing ideas of young love and romance.

    • Haley says

      Yes, to everything in this comment, Molly. I absolutely agree about the series target audience. Also, Frederick Wentworth forever.

      • says

        Late by a year to this party but you had me at “Frederick Wentworth”.
        :)
        I think Wuthering Heights was the earlier Twilight. I hate that book!

        • Haley says

          I just re-read Wuthering Heights this year, Melissa, and I honestly don’t know what to make of it! My gut reaction is that it’s romanticizing the most unhealthy relationship ever, but maybe there’s so much more that I’m missing? At least the destructive consequences are revealed in the end? I need someone who has studied the book more than I fill me in :)

          • Courtney says

            I LOVED Wuthering Heights. Its been a while since I have read it, but my favorite part is at the end, when Cathy and Hareton are able to fall in love and make a life for themselves despite everything they have gone through because of the mistakes of their relatives.
            I have only recently realized that Twilight sucks. Took four times reading it, but I saw the light.

  7. says

    From one Mean Ol’ Mom to another:
    Great post: solid reasoning and logic. Our children will not love us or even like us at all times. They will, however, learn to respect and trust our judgment and wisdom, which is even more important and crucial.

    There is no guarantee, that your children will thank you, in the future, for the difficult decisions you make today. However, it is ironic that the very parental decision that infuriates your child/teenager today may the same decision about which your young adult child will boast in the future.

    Parenting requires courage — and patience.

  8. Lanae says

    I agree with you but wonder which books you would allow her to read? I’ve always thought “Romeo and Juliet” was a silly book about teen love. Although it’s considered a literary masterpiece, I always thought it emphasized the intensity of puppy love- two teenagers fall madly in love and commit suicide within days?

    • says

      Though at least with R&J a teenager can learn the consequences of hasty actions and impromptu decisions – those two kids are basically responsible for 6 deaths in 3 (or is it 4) days, including their best friends and relatives basically because they can’t be happy with going out for ice cream and a movie.

    • Haley says

      I’ve only studied some of Shakespeare’s plays in detail and Romeo and Juliet isn’t one of them, but I would definitely let my kids read any Shakespeare. What I’ve discovered when studying Shakeapeare is that there’s always more than meets the eye. But, it’s important for parents to educate themselves about literature so that they can discuss it with their children (I’ll obviously need to study more Shakespeare before my kids are ready to be introduced to Shakespeare so that I can know how to discuss the plays appropriately.) Another difference is that Shakeapeare’s writing has literary merit and that there actually is something to discuss (even if it’s that the two main characters are making mistakes).

    • says

      I think that’s a really shallow reading of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s play isn’t about how wonderful and romantic their relationship is! It’s about how destructive and tragic it is. Though actually the main theme is how the petty rivalry between their families destroys their children and how tragic it is that only their deaths could bring the Montagues and Capulets to their senses to end the feud. It’s all spelled out in the Prologue.

  9. Nichole says

    This is just parenting. Every time you take a stance on something you will be judged, and if its a public stance even more so. I think one of the reasons that people make such a commotion is that it forces them to question their decisions, and sometimes that is uncomfortable, so they decide to go a little overboard defending themselves. I wouldn’t let my first grader/second graders read Captain Underwear or Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and you would have thought I was denying them food based on other parent’s reactions.

  10. says

    Loved this post! I believe it’s our job as parents to nourish our children’s mind, body, and soul. Which requires limiting choices and offering the best choices we can.

    My husband and I are definitely going to limit what our son (and any future children) read. Children are so easily impressionable, so I think it’s very important to provide them with well written, carefully thought out books, rather that the latest trashy romance novel.

    I can’t believe you got so many negative remarks from Twilight fans! It kind of makes me a little sad that grown adults can’t see how the series is inappropriate for young, impressionable children. Or that you have “rights” as a parent, reading what they read.

    Kind of off topic – have you read The Hunger Game series? If so, what did you think of them?

  11. Elizabeth says

    I think you’re right on-these are the kinds of decisions that I’m finding get harder and harder as my kids get older. We talk a lot about book and movie choices at our house, and my older kids (14 and 10) are often unhappy with our decisions about what they can and can’t read/watch. I’ve found though, that sometimes my resistance to certain books (Twilight was definitely one of them) just makes it more intriguing, especially to my teenage daughter. I made her wait years to read Twilight, but ultimately for her it was more about having that part of a shared culture with her peers at school. I think the books are totally stupid and flighty, but she wanted to be able to participate in that silliness with her peers, and I decided I was ok with that after a while. I’d definitely draw the line with some books, of course. And it helps that 99% of what she reads is awesome stuff-she’s read and re-read Harry Potter, Narnia, etc.

    • Haley says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Elizabeth. I absolutely think that offering good reading choices is even more important than censoring bad choices. So, the fact that almost everything your kids are reading is quality will easily balance out the books you aren’t crazy about.

  12. Thistle says

    So I just found your blog today and was quite happy to see all the things you’ve had to say about reading. I don’t actually remember learning to read, my parents taught me before memories got to a point where they’d stick. My bedtime stories jumped from “Hank the Cowdog” straight to “Red Planet” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Once I could reach the shelves of the bookcases, I was on my own. My parents did not supervise my reading, aside from telling me what their favorite books were when I asked for a suggestion. I wound up getting into some very mature books at a young age. It was always the characters and the stories that fascinated me though, the sex or violence or terrible relationships wasn’t what I remember. When faced with a bad role model in a book, my dad tells me I’d come talk to him about and tell him all about so-and-so and what a terrible person it is and how I just don’t care for it one bit. And I remember my dad telling me it’s just a story, I don’t have to agree with or even like the main characters.

    When I was in highschool, Kushiel’s Dart was making the rounds. It’d make 50 Shades blush, I imagine. I asked my dad about it, and his response was that it’s very explicit and he didn’t think I’d be comfortable reading it. It was not outright banned, however. I did not read it because by that point, I loved the books my parents loved and trusted my father’s opinions.

    I’m not certain if my parent’s approach would work for everyone, but I feel it worked with myself and my brother. We read voraciously, the library bent their ’10 book’ rule for us during the summer. I had my share of terrible female characters and amazing ones, and I gravitated towards the amazing ones. I really do feel it was more the influence of my parents – especially my father – that shaped me rather than what I read. I had very definitive opinions, even by first grade when I read Dragonlance, and those were not shaped by the stories. I’d sit there and tell strangers why I thought Tannis was making a terrible choice in the woman he loves and how he just needs to get over it.

    I do agree that some books should be recommended against simply because they’re terrible books, or they might be a bit much for a kid (see: Kushiel’s Dart). But speaking from my own experience… I don’t think having the freedom to read anything did me any harm. If anything, it meant I was talking to my dad on these things and forming my opinion based on what he thought was right, rather than what was in the book.

    Just wanted to offer a different personal perspective on all this. I sometimes feel like I’m an oddity in that my parents didn’t restrict my reading in any way.

    • Haley says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Thistle! Sounds like you come from a reading family :) I had a similar experience growing up (as far as being allowed to read anything on the bookshelves from a very young age). But because my family had mostly classics, I only remember it being an issue on one occasion. One time I picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings around age 8 and reading about a rape made me physically sick. A that point I realized it was too mature for me and stopped reading it; however, it really shouldn’t have been an option for me at such a young age. I do agree that the very best situation is one in which parents and children can discuss books together.

  13. says

    You are on solid ground with your decision, here (which you already know). Literature is something that you know very well. Who better to excite a love of reading quality books than you? And you’re absolutely right…once children have been exposed over time to real, nourishing literature with strong, multi-dimensional characters and good dialogue, books like the Twilight series will seem like fast food to them- possibly appealing at some point in their lives, but ultimately unfulfilling. When Lucy is old enough to make her own decisions about things, you will trust her to do that, but part of why you will trust her is because you brought her up the way you intended and did your best to shape her values by being picky about the influences to which she was exposed along the way. I don’t see you stifling your children. I see you helping them to grow wings that are strong enough to fly them wherever they need to go. And when they’re ready, you’ll cheer them on as they fly! Good job, mama.

  14. says

    You have company, Thistle! My parents didn’t have an off-limits list either. I was a HUGE reader, and my parents were quite restrictive about TV. But some really crummy books got into my hands and mind — I read Jaws in 6th grade (badly written and sexually explicit), and read a lot of Stephen King in middle school and high school. I wish some of that imagery had never entered my head, and the moral universe of most of King’s books is completely nonsensical (i.e. actions don’t lead to logical consequences, and there’s a lot of random evil) and I think that the books were a waste of time that could’ve been much better spent elsewhere.

    I think there’s another idea that is important for this conversation: reading one bad book is often a gateway to other bad books. Emotionally exploitative books (whether in the sphere of romance or suspense/horror) begin to create an appetite for more “quick payoff” reads, and younger readers get hooked on the veneer of emotion or thrills. Then when it’s time to read something that requires more complex thought, younger readers think it’s too difficult or “boring.”

    Luckily for me, sprinkled in among the bad/badly written books were great books: “Little House on the Prairie,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and many others, then “Jane Eyre” especially. Eventually I could tell the difference between well-crafted books with great characters, and crappy books . . . but I spent a lot of time reading crappy stuff. Inevitably, my kids will read some vacuous books, but I hope to steer them away from the books that are outright bad.

    • Haley says

      “…younger readers get hooked on the veneer of emotion or thrills. Then when it’s time to read something that requires more complex thought, younger readers think it’s too difficult or ‘boring.’”

      That is an excellent point, Nancy.

  15. says

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with limiting what your children take in as they are children. BUT, if you are raising your daughter with your ideals and values, there is no way she would see Bella as an empowered woman or strive to be like her. Your voice will speak to her louder than Stephenie Meyer’s. Part of reading is the fun of escaping into a make believe world where it’s different from real life. You can enjoy a book like Twilight for the entertaining drivel that it is, but not emulate the actions of the idiotic Bella Swan. I am a jaded, down to earth, working mama and wife, and every now and then it’s nice to escape into a ridiculous little book for awhile. Because I know it’s fiction and has no bearing on the real world. Teenagers will have romantic ideals in their heads regardless of what they read, but most grow up to understand they aren’t real. And that Bella Swan is no hero. Great post!

  16. Michelle says

    Excellent post! Just one thing, I was wondering if there was a typo here: “I hope that by that age she would have fallen so in love with good literature that reading Twilight would not be an unattractive option to her. ” I’m not sure of you meant to put the “not” in that sentence. Anyway, sorry to be hounding your grammar! I think you’re perfectly right that we, as parents, need to guide our children to make right choices and that includes what books they read.

  17. says

    This is such a good post, Haley.

    I mean, that’s a big part of what we do, limit choices. And of course, in their stead, offer healthy choices. (Not like the frozen tv dinner…)

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Amy. I was thinking recently about your library conundrum with the boys, too. Did you ever figure out a plan or just stick to Amazon?

  18. katryna says

    Very well put, Haley! As a librarian, it was always pressed on us that the parent makes the decision concerning the appropriateness of a book. It is a foreign concept to me that I would not have a say in what my child reads. My life was shaped by the literature I consumed at a young age, and there are things they do not need to encounter until they are more mature.

  19. says

    *APPLAUSE*

    Excellent post! An issue we come up against frequently with our daughter who is a voracious reader. It is absolutely appalling what is consider appropriate material for pre-teens these days, all in the name of “well, at least they’re reading SOMETHING.” I use the healthy food/junk food metaphor with my daughter when discussing what books she reads. I add in the category of “poison”. There are Healthy Food books, which should be the main part of her diet, Junk Food (or “Dessert”) Books, which are ok in moderation and on occasion, and then there are books that are simply poisonous to her mind and spirit and which she just may not read. She seems to be embracing the concept, so far :)

  20. says

    I wanted to mention something. One of the worst things that parents can do is to be “friends” rather than parents. Heaven bless my parents (as much as I griped at the time,) because they were a rock – not just for me but also for my friends. They were never afraid to say “No,” or “Over my dead body,” or similar remark. On the whole, we had a good childhood -and the family is still very close. I know for certain (Mom told me,) that she would have forbidden us to read Twilight – just as she refused to have Barbie dolls around.

    • Haley says

      I agree. Although I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of Gilmore Girls, I just can’t get past how dysfunctional the mother/daughter relationship is when the mom is just the ‘best friend’ and not the parent.

  21. says

    Haley, I could not agree with you more! Limiting choices, creating boundaries on what enters our homes, is so central to what it means to be a parent!

    That being said, I think the situations will also differ by child. My oldest daughter, Hannah, was a voracious reader. We would go to the library weekly, and I never worried about what she was checking out, because I knew she had already developed good taste in literature. If something didn’t appeal to her, and the trashy stuff never did, she just wouldn’t read it!

    One of my middle daughters, Mary, is adopted and has issues with maturity. She reads, but tends towards the more Gossip Girl type literature. Usually it’s not terrible, just shallow, but my husband and I skim the books she brings home, because you wouldn’t believe what they put into some of the YA Fiction nowadays! She brought home Twilight when it first came out, I think she was around 11 years old. When we went to skim it, she put up a terrible fight, saying that all her friends were reading it and if we didn’t let her she would have no friends. Red Flag. As my husband went through it and started pointing out some key issues he had with it (we always try to explain why we veto a book, rather than just saying no), she was already very defensive, saying that it gets better and it really is a good book. Red Flag. Needless to say, she didn’t read Twilight. She pouted for a few days, but after that she forgot about it. Just like that!

    Sorry for such a long comment, but I wanted to get that message across – if my preteen daughter, who brought home Twilight during the height of the hype, only pouted for a few days, I cannot imagine your daughter hating you if you deny it years from now. Most likely, she won’t even know what it is in a decade! Twilight is no masterpiece, and I really don’t see it having any staying power as a ‘preteen must read’ for years to come.

    You’re a fantastic writer and excellent mother, Haley, and I wish you all the best!

    • Haley says

      That is such a good point, Tammy! Every child is different and there’s no formula that works for every kid in every situation. We can already tell that discipline, for instance, is going to be so different for our daughter and our son because their personalities are completely opposite.
      Thank you!

  22. says

    How timely this post is for me (and a great introduction for me to your blog). My 6year old is a prolific and skilled reader. He is with a higher grade for reading at school so this ‘skill’ has been recognized and assessed by others. This year he has begun reading the Harry Potter series and is fast making his way through as he’s now ploughing through number 5. And Im feeling dreadfully uncomfortable about it. I am a Literature teacher so feel I am reasonably qualified to make judgements about reading matter. While I haven’t read Harry Potter, I am aware that the books become progressively ‘dark’ as each is written for a growing (and ultimately adolescent) audience. While I actually thing they are well written and of good quality, nevertheless, I’m uncomfortable about the choice and unsure whether to allow him to continue. I dont want to dampen his reading enthusiasm, especially as he is a young boy and the reading activity of young boys is known to be dismal. I want to try and balance his growing independence and attendant decision making with what I feel is best for him to be reading. And for the first time, I really quite unsure what step to take. Interestingly, if I thought Harry Potter was trashy as I believe Twilight is, I’d have no problem. So that is another element to add to this dilemma you do adequately explore.

    Thank you for the food for thought. I have been leaning towards the decision to stop Harry Potter after he finishes this book. I plan to do so by offering other enticing reads that I’ve researched and taking him on a special trip to the book store to stock up on this new reading material. I hoping this finds a balance between independence and parental supervision.

    • Haley says

      That’s a tough one. We love Harry Potter and my husband and I have wondered at what age we’ll allow our kids to start reading them (due to the progressively darker material). I really think it depends on how sensitive the child is. But I highly recommend reading the series! It’s a treat.

    • Haley says

      I enjoyed reading your post about the Hunger Games, Mary. My readers have been asking me to review the series and I just haven’t had a chance to write up my thoughts, yet. While I actually enjoyed the series and think that it is a good foundation for discussion, they are definitely “candy” books. Immediate gratification books. I agree that introducing real meaty books first is the best way to go. Our kids are still littles so we haven’t had to cross that bridge, yet. My guess is that our older teenagers will be allowed to read Hunger Games if they will discuss them with us as they go. But the important thing is that the decision should be up to parents! Thanks for your comment.

  23. Stacey says

    I really appreciate what you have said here. I do think this debate is greater than the literary merit of the Twilight series. However, I think that Twilight evokes great emotion in people. They want to defend their decision to “eat the candy” by claiming its nutritious. They don’t want to admit they read it as an empty calorie, sweet treat.

    Regarding limiting your child’s “right” to read bad books, I think you are dead on! My husband and I just went through this last year with our then 11-year old son. It wasn’t Twilight, but it was still a book that we deemed inappropriate, yet all his friends were reading. He wasn’t happy about it and we caught flack from the other parents, but we had to stand our ground. I’m glad there are other parents out there that feel the same way!

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Stacey. I’m not looking forward to these battles, but I know as our kids grow up they will arise! It’s always encouraging to connect with other parents that are intentional and involved in the lives of their children.

  24. Jessica says

    I am not a parent nor do I plan to be one in the near future but, I am 22 years old and unfortunately I have read the literary atrocity that is Twilight. I read the first book of the series my freshman year of high school and continued reading the rest because I started the series and had to finish it.
    I have played a major role in raising my youngest sister as my Mom is physically disabled and I am proud to say she is almost as voracious as I am.i is now reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Rhiordan. However before she started them a couple of her friends wanted her to read Twilight with them. Instead of going along with them she came home and asked me if she should. I was in a pickle about it. How was I supposed to explain how horrible Twilight was to a 10 yr old? Finally.I set her down and explained to her that it should really only be read by older people. Of course this did not satisfy her curiosity.I went on to explain that Bella was a very weak person who should not be idolized in any way. I explained in age appropriate terms how tried and failed to commit suicide when the person she loved left her, how it was not love between her and Edward. I then compared her to Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, who she know because of the movies and reading the first book, I figured she would understand that comparison best. Hermione was willing to sacrifice herself for her friends and her own happiness to keep her family safe from Voldemort. When Ron let them down she cried her eyes out but then picked herslef and Harry up and carried on. I told her while when she was older she could still read Twilight Mom Dad and I wanted her to be strong like Hermand she
    should really read books that made her feel that way.
    She got a look on her face that told me she was reallly thinking about what I had said and then she told me she wanted to be strong like Hermione too. So she went to school and told her friends that she refused to read Twilight because she didn’t think that being whiney was anything she wanted to read about and they shouldn’t either.
    Of course these little girls went home and told their parents what Haley had said and the parents called my Mom who had no idea what they were talking about so she handed the phone to me and I delt with some very angery mothers and one father. They wanted to know where I got off telling a 10 yr old she shouldn’t read a book that was meant for not education. It was ridiculous. I told them they didn’t have to like my decision or agree with it just like I didn’t have to like or agree with their decision to allow bad role models into their daughters lives but I would not under any circumstances allow them into my sister’s life without atleast trying to steer her in a better direction and that for the record the 10 yr old little girl you are calling me about shose on her own not to read the books I did not force the decision on her at all.
    So I geuss in short I am telling you that your idea about how to deal with Twilight and other books that have questionable messages worked for at least one young girl.

    • Haley says

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jessica! Your sister is lucky to have such an amazing big sister. I’m shocked that other parents would question your family’s reading choices. Good for you.

  25. says

    I’d like to chime in with a resounding “Amen!” I remember my mom putting her foot down about certain books when I was in junior high, and though I was cranky about it then, I’m thankful for it now! I did not need to read Joyce Carol Oates’s Man Crazy at age twelve.

    Now, I have two daughters, and I’m gearing up for those years when I’ll have to limit certain choices (and deal with the fallout) for their sake. It’s helpful to have your stance laid out so clearly. Thank you!

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Thea! I hopped over to your blog and just love it. Have you read “10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child” by Anthony Esolen? I think you might really like it!

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