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Publishers Weekly calls it “A nasty, guilty pleasure.” So what is this book filled with shocking profanity, characters guzzling alcohol and smoking cigarettes throughout, taking illegal drugs, glorifying hedonism and selfishness, and where sex (including homosexuality) is always on their minds? Is this book and others like it tucked away at an “adult bookstore”? No, it is a novel from the No. 1 best-selling series titled “Gossip Girl,” and it is probably at your local library and bookstore in the teen section. Teen People magazine dubs these books “‘Sex and the City’ for the younger set.”
We are a family of readers, and we have always encouraged our children to read, but it is getting harder and harder to find good books for teens at the library. We try to censor the books our 12-year-old daughter selects at the library, but it has gotten increasingly difficult to keep the world’s filth from flooding her mind. Were we ever in for a rude awakening when we recently flipped through one of her selections, a top-selling “Gossip Girl” book. She chose it at our local library, and it was full of the “F” word. After this shocker, we looked closer to see what else was in it and other teen books that fill the library.
Here is a sampling of current books available for teens and younger children at stores and libraries. The following are from the shelves of our local library:
- “Gossip Girl” is a New York Times best-selling series of 11 teen books. The “F” word is used liberally, and an abundance of alcoholic drinks are consumed by the teenage characters. But that’s not all. Besides telling readers how wonderful a decadent materialistic lifestyle is, it promotes homosexuality. Advertisements for the “Gossip Girl” website are sprinkled within the book. In a question and answer section of the book, advice is given to the fictional mother of a high-school son who has just realized that he is gay. The mother writes to ask what she should do. The columnist’s advice is to throw a party to “celebrate something exciting and new.” At the “coming out” party, the mother gives her son a book as a gift: “Homosensual: The great gay love poems of all times.” Next, she offers to send him a gay porn video. After this, the boy takes a bite of a “penis ?clair.” Declaring that it is delicious, his mother nods, “beaming with pleasure.” The chapter ends saying, “The family that’s gay together stays together!”
- Another book we found was titled “Greed: Who says you can’t have it all?” It is part of a series focusing on the seven deadly sins. On the back cover is a listing of the other book titles: “Lust,” “Pride,” “Envy,” “Sloth,” “Gluttony” and “Wrath.” Written next to these books it tells the reader to “Commit them all!”
- How about “Rainbow Boys”? This one, as you may have guessed, is about three high school boys who are gay, or considering it. This book cover proclaims “High school’s hard enough as it is without falling in love with your best friend – who’s crushing on the most popular guy in school. Or feeling like your parents would throw you out if they knew you were gay. Or being afraid of who you are …” The accolades on the back cover include one designating it as a Lambda literary award finalist (a homosexual group), the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and the New York Public Library “Books for the Teen Age” selection.
- “The Witch Season” series is about a girl named Kerry who has “gotten mixed up with real live witches,” and “In a quest to uncover the secrets of the past, she’s discovered a magical part of herself she never could have imagined.”
- The back cover of the anti-Persian Gulf war book, “Peace is a Four-letter Word,” is set in 1990 and asks in large letters, “When is the right time to stand up for your values?” Emily, the main character begins as “a normal sixteen-year-old girl” who is a cheerleader, an “A” student, and has a basketball star for a boyfriend. Up until this time, “No one’s ever questioned her values.” Then, a new history teacher “comes into her life,” and “something in Emily is awakened, challenging her to think for herself.”
There you have it. This is just a quick sampling of the books in a public library under the big teen sign. Let’s see, the books have covered topics ranging from how great decadent living is, greed, sex, glorified excessive drinking and drugs, homosexuality and witchcraft. Plus, they are encouraging kids to commit the seven deadly sins. The “Gossip Girl” books have been so popular that there is now a television series with the same title based on the books. All the books we saw in the teen section were paperbacks and usually under $10 – a price that is affordable to young people. Go look at the shelves at your local library, and be prepared for a shock. Is this where you want your hard earned money going via library taxes? For us, the answer is a resounding no!
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Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are best-selling authors and speakers. Mary Beth’s newest book, “Condi: Life of a Steel Magnolia,” will be available Jan. 15. The Browns’ commentary on news and issues of the day can be found on their blog, 2MinuteView.