Touchstone has made available online David Mills’ article ” Bad Books for Kids ,” which won first place in the practical theology category of the Associated Church Press competition :

You may be surprised, if you don’t keep up on these things, and few of us have any reason to, how tawdry and sometimes depraved are the kinds of books being offered to teenagers by the major publishers and bookstores, and even the schools. This is true especially of the books supposed in some way to describe “real life.”

Before I came across a short essay on what’s called “young adult literature” a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine that the books were more than mildly offensive, with a few news-making exceptions. (The popular  Face on the Milk Carton describes the main character’s increasing intimacy with her boyfriend, utterly unnecessary to the story, with lines like “She could touch him in places she had never touched another human being.”) I was shocked, and I think of myself as someone who is not easily shocked, by the evidence of commercial depravity.


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