Fiction covers a lot of territory. From simple stories for toddlers to thrillers for adults, there are enough fiction styles and subjects to interest any person of any age . Sometimes having more choices makes the choice harder, since endless choices can be overwhelming.
Fiction is not easily classified by age, since reading levels and interest levels don’t always match a person’s age. The picture books tab covers books designed for young children and those who want beautiful illustrations for their stories. Some of these are still appropriate for children in the first few school grades who have learned to read independently or still enjoy being read to. They are also good for reading to mixed ages.
Some fiction can be found under the Authors tab if an author wrote many books or wrote both fiction and nonfiction. The rest will eventually be listed under this tab as I have time to write the pages. You can tell by the title of a page whether books described are for an age, a series, or a theme. I tend to like themes, since they are easy to incorporate into unit studies.
The books I recommend are books I have read or know enough about to be convinced they are well-written and provide examples of good character. Most were written before authors began to be politically correct. These books do not portray drug use, teen and preteen sexual activity, child abuse, or sexual abuse as normal parts of teen life, but rather as aberrant or unhealthy behaviors.
Publishers have sent me samples of fiction written for what publishers consider “young adults” — actually teens. Much of it assumes unhealthy activities and dysfunctional families are typical. Public libraries are full of books like this because that is what publishers promote and think most teens will identify with. I’m of the opinion that many children in such unhealthy situations are better served by nonfiction written to help them, than by fiction where characters in these situations aren’t able to solve them and, instead, cut themselves, give into despair or think suicide is the only way out.
All families aren’t perfect. I know that. That has always been true. But it’s also true that young people are hungry to know their problems can be solved and that caring adults can help. In Between (see my review) is an example of a book that deals with the foster care experience for a teen, Katie, in a responsible and helpful way, while providing likable characters and humor. Another book that treats the subject realistically for preteens is the Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. It, too, is written in the voice of the foster child. I was a foster parent, as was my next-door neighbor. I knew lots of foster children, mine and hers, and thus I can see how realistically both Katie and Gilly are portrayed. I would recommend anyone planning to become a foster parent read these books first, to understand what you may be up against if you foster older children.
The point here is that although children and teens have problems and may even be from abusive or dysfunctional families, they do not have to accept these situations as normal. What they read should lift them out of the darkness and show them there can be light and alternatives. Children who have never known love can be shown what love is like so they can recognize it in themselves and others. Children who have had bad parenting can see what good parenting looks like so they can aspire to break the cycle and make a better life than they have known, for any children they may have.
Fiction allows us to try out being someone else in a safe way, without leaving our normal routines. We can experience different cultures and occupations vicariously. We can see what happens when a teen becomes a single mom. We can see how others deal with the death of a loved one, or a terminal illness.
Fiction is still fiction, which means it’s not true. But authors can make stories true to life, even science fiction and fantasy, and they can create memorable characters for us to get to know almost as well as we do real world friends — or enemies. Who will forget Anne Shirley of Green Gables? Or Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia? Who could forget Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore? How about The Little Red Hen who did everything herself when no one would help her?
Fiction can be a shared treasure that makes instant friends of strangers when they discover they love the same books. Because so many more books have been written for children in the past fifty years, the generations now may not have read the books their parents loved and books children love may be unfamiliar to their parents.
That’s one reason reading aloud together is so important. It enables families to have a common frame of reference as they remember their favorite parts of books they have shared. Shared fiction often provides a jumping off place for family conversations on sensitive subjects, too. A parent might ask a child, for example, how she thinks a character felt in a certain situation or what choice she thinks a character should make.
Most children want to see themselves as important to someone or doing something important. They are curious about how friendships, families, and later, dating situations, are supposed to work. Most don’t want whatever problem they are facing to become the “new normal” in their lives. Books should help them in their quest for knowledge instead of telling them they are just like everyone else, so it’s OK to stay in whatever rut they may be caught in.
I love some books for their humor, and others because they deal compassionately with serious subjects. Historical fiction transports me to another time and place and helps me learn to appreciate where God has planted me. Animal stories help us understand and appreciate nature and to have healthy relationships to pets. Almost all well-written fiction teaches us more about ourselves and human character traits.
As more and more books being published reinforce political correctness, my reviews will help you find the ones that reinforce timeless values. I believe those include strong families, the importance of education and hard work, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule , and a willingness to help each person achieve all he or she can in life regardless of parentage.
I have a separate book blog that contains my reviews of books meant for adults rather than younger people. The previews of my latest posts there appear in the right sidebar here.