Books for young teens


Last night I was reading a thread on this forum and it prompted me to look further into a series my 12 year old daughter has been reading. I looked on the website and read the reviews. I was surprised and so saddened by what I found. She has already read 9 of the books, was in her tenth, and she has now been exposed to so much inappropriate sexual content.

Some time back, I had read reviews on amazon to see about appropriateness of the books, and all I saw in the reviews were how much people loved the characters and the series. No mention of content I never expected to see in a youth book. And, the books are in our school library. So, I thought they were fine.

I have talked with my daughter, and, long story short, I have told her we need to find other books.

She has always read very quickly, and very often, and it is hard to find new books and series for her. For me, there is no way I can read the books she is, as I do not read at her rate nor magnitude. So, I will have to rely on the above website and recommendations.

  • Do you have any titles that you would give to a young girl? * She likes fantasy (such as Percy Jackson, Harry Potter that she has read).

I think of how I have tried so much to keep inappropriate things away from her–and here it was, right underneath my nose, in her love of reading. It seems sexual things come at us from everywhere, and it is all seems to be made so “normal.”


There are many threads here with the same type of question and lots of suggestions so, just have a look.


Look at the Pauline Sister media group which sells a good amount of appropriate catholic literature for people of all ages for many different reasons.


Catholic Writers Guild has listings of good books (fiction and non-fiction) in various genres, including young adult and teen.

The SoA winners are automatically listed on You can also find the books listed on (type in Catholic fiction, young adult or teen) and Virtue Works Media.


There are always the classics such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia if she has not read them yet.

Sherlock Holmes never gets old and G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown series is excellent.


Do not let her read Harry Potter. It will make her think magic is okay. Magic is very common now is high schools. Many high schoolers are professed witches. It is a common cult in many areas. If she reads Harry Potter books, she may have trouble resisting temptations to join these cults out of mere curiosity. Then try to find an exorcist or to get her to go to confession, and that might be even harder, and you might not even know she is doing it. Best thing is to avoid the temptation to start with. Instead, teach her to avoid such people and tell her the real dangers associated with it. My Dad did for me and it helped me to stay out of trouble.


Also for fantasy I never read them but I think they are probably good is a new series out by Raymond Arroyo of EWTN. He said they are popular and maybe you should read one chapter and see if you like it and then let your daughter read them.


You mentioned Percy Jackson - has your daughter read the spinoff series? Rick Roirdan also has written multiple other series with the similar mythological background as Percy Jackson but with different characters in different settings, one for instance is Egyptian. If she hasn’t read those I would suggest them


Review of these books


This is a topic that actually pains me when I think about it too much. I love to read. I don’t read as much as I used to because of work, so instead I try to look around for recommendations; goodreads, booktube (book review section of youtube), lists, coworker recommendations, etc. I don’t limit myself in target age range because there seems to be some section of book writers that things “adult” books should contain content I have no business entertaining. All the YA books that I checked out last year had something in it that was a “hot button issue” that was contrary to the faith. Even series I grew up with and the authors are still writing because they haven’t finished have changed from fun middle-grade fantasy books to adult torture/insta-love so let’s go sleep with them books (in the same series!).

Fantasy is the main genre I tend to read in, though I’ll branch out to mystery and sci-fi sometimes. You said she reads a lot and fast, which is how I read when I was younger. Is she reading at a higher grade/age level than her 12 years would normally? I can think of a few books I can recommend off-hand, though there are a few others that I could recommend with a caveat:

  • Dragonsong/Dragonsinger/Dragondrums by Anne Mccaffrey
    sc-fi but with dragons on another planet, these books deal with “fire lizards” which are a smaller versions of the dragons that inhabit Pern. Anne Mccaffrey has written quite a few books with the dragons and Pern so if she likes the world she can branch out to other books
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
    kinda absurdist fantasy, she’ll enjoy it more if she’s used to noticing subtle clues about what’s going on and is fine with having the “why is that happening/why does that work that way?” kinda questions that can pop up when you’re figuring a fantasy world out answered with “because it’s magic”, but I read it when I was younger and just enjoyed how whimsical it was and then later on caught clues I had missed when I was young
  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
    A coming of age story about a girl who’s always felt out of place
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques
    I’ll be honest, I don’t remember anything about this series other than I read it when I was younger and enjoyed it. I don’t remember hearing anything negative from parents about it.
  • The Lord of the Rings
    Already mentioned above
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    Already mentioned above
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    I absolutely adored this book as a child and still read it fondly to this day, I absolutely loathe the movie that was made from the book
  • The author Brandon Sanderson (pretty much the only “new” author that I read from with confidence) has a wide range of books to choose from in varying degrees of reading difficulty, he has book series that a coworker recommends for kids called the Alcatraz series and The Rithmatist. The rest of his books are a bit more weighty and I would think she’d need to be older to read.

I’ll keep thinking on it and see if there’s anything else I remember.


Sigh. Not this again.

Black magic is also not as common within teenagers as you think. Atheism is a more common ‘threat’ to her than being a witch.

Just teach your kids about fictional magic vs witchcraft and things will be fine. My super Catholic mother was obsessed with Harry Potter and we grew up with the movies, yet we all grasped that magic was fictional, and witchcraft in reality was satanic.

Most fantasy books and even innocent fairytale have magic anyways, I don’t think it’s going to be easy to avoid. Just be wary about content that blatantly defends Satan and black magic (aka the new Sabrina series on Netflix, for example)


The best book of relationship for teens you could find here - urloveliness.


If she is 12 and reading sexually suggestive/explicit material and didn’t stop the first moment she came across such material, this is a symptom of a far greater problem in catechesis and faith formation. At her age, she ought to have some understanding of human sexuality, whether she is called to virginity or marriage. And 12 isn’t too young to be thinking about God’s calling for her.


We don’t know what series this was, so we don’t know what the allegedly inappropriate material was. Which makes it inappropriate to suggest there’s a problem with her faith.



Why don’t your give her books on the lives of Catholic saints instead of reading trash.

St. Alphonsus Liguori On Spiritual Reading

To a spiritual life the reading of holy books is perhaps not less useful than mental prayer. St. Bernard says reading instructs us at once in prayer, and in the practice of virtue. Hence he concluded that spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won. We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions, and particularly in our doubts; but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us lights and directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will. Hence St. Athanasius used to say that we find no one devoted to the service of the Lord that did not practice spiritual reading. Hence all the founders of religious Orders have strongly recommended this holy exercise to their religious. St. Benedict, among the rest, commanded that each monk should every day make a spiritual reading, and that two others should be appointed to go about visiting the cells to see if all fulfilled the command; and should any monk be found negligent in the observance of this rule, the saint ordered a penance to be imposed upon him. But before all, the Apostle prescribed spiritual reading to Timothy. Attend unto reading . Mark the word Attend , which signifies that, although Timothy, as being bishop, was greatly occupied with the care of his flock, still the Apostle wished him to apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time.

The reading of spiritual works is as profitable as the reading of bad books is noxious. As the former has led to the conversion of many sinners, so the latter is every day the ruin of many young persons. The first author of pious books is the Spirit of God; but the author of pernicious writings is the devil, who often artfully conceals from certain persons the poison that such works contain, and makes these persons believe that the reading of such books is necessary in order to speak well, and to acquire a knowledge of the world for their own direction, or at least in order to pass the time agreeably. But I say that, especially for nuns, nothing is more pernicious than the reading of bad books. And by bad books I mean not only those that are condemned by the Holy See, either because they contain heresy, or treat of subjects opposed to chastity, but also all books that treat of worldly love. What fervor can a religious have if she reads romances, comedies, or profane poetry? What recollection can she have in meditation or at Communion? Can she be called the spouse of Jesus Christ? Should she not rather be called the spouse of a sinful world? Even young women in the world that are in the habit of reading such books are generally not virtuous seculars.


But some one may say, What harm is there in reading romances and profane poetry when they contain nothing immodest? Do you ask what harm? Behold the harm: the reading of such works kindles the concupiscence of the senses, and awakens the passions; these easily gain the consent of the will, or at least render it so weak that when the occasion of any dangerous affection occurs the devil finds the soul already prepared to allow itself to be conquered. A wise author has said that by the reading of such pernicious books heresy has made, and makes every day, great progress; because such reading has given and gives increased strength to libertinism. The poison of these books enters gradually into the soul; it first makes itself master of the understanding, then infects the will, and in the end kills the soul. The devil finds no means more efficacious and secure of sending a young person to perdition than the reading of such poisoned works.

Remember also that for you certain useless books, though not bad, will be pernicious; because they will make you lose the time that you can employ in occupations profitable to the soul. In a letter to his disciple Eustochium, St. Jerome stated for her instruction that in his solitude at Bethlehem he was attached to the works of Cicero, and frequently read them, and that he felt a certain disgust for pious books because their style was not polished. He was seized with a serious malady, in which he saw himself at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. The Lord said to him: “Tell me; what are you?” “I am,” replied the saint, “a Christian.” “No,” rejoined the Judge, “you are a Ciceronian, not a Christian.” He then commanded him to be instantly scourged. The saint promised to correct his fault, and having returned from the vision he found his shoulders livid and covered with wounds in consequence of the chastisement that he had received. Thenceforward he gave up the works of Cicero, and devoted himself to the reading of books of piety. It is true that in the works like those of Cicero we sometimes find useful sentiments; but the same St. Jerome wisely said in a letter to another disciple: “What need have you of seeking for a little gold in the midst of so much mire,” when you can read pious books in which you may find all gold without any mire?

As the reading of bad books fills the mind with worldly and poisonous sentiments; so, on the other hand, the reading of pious works fills the soul with holy thoughts and good desires.

In the second place, the soul that is imbued with holy thoughts in reading is always prepared to banish internal temptations. The advice that St. Jerome gave to his disciple Salvina was: “Endeavor to have always in your hand a pious book, that with this shield you may defend yourself against bad thoughts.”


In the third place, spiritual reading serves to make us see the stains that infect the soul, and helps us to remove them. The same St. Jerome recommended Demetriade to avail herself of spiritual reading as of a mirror. He meant to say that as a mirror exhibits the stains of the countenance, so holy books show us the defects of the soul. St. Gregory, speaking of spiritual reading, says: “There we perceive the losses we have sustained and the advantages we have acquired; there we observe our falling back or our progress in the way of God.”

In the fourth place, in reading holy books we receive many lights and divine calls. St. Jerome says that when we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us. St. Ambrose says the same: “We address him when we pray; we hear him when we read.” In prayer, God hears our petitions, but in reading we listen to his voice. We cannot, as I have already said, always have at hand a spiritual Father, nor can we hear the sermons of sacred orators, to direct and give us light to walk well in the way of God. Good books supply the place of sermons. St. Augustine writes that good books are, as it were, so many letters of love the Lord sends us; in them he warns us of our dangers, teaches us the way of salvation, animates us to suffer adversity, enlightens us, and inflames us with divine love. Whoever, then, desires to be saved and to acquire divine love, should often read these letters of paradise.

How many saints have, by reading a spiritual book, been induced to forsake the world and to give themselves to God! It is known to all that St. Augustine, when miserably chained by his passions and vices, was, by reading one of the epistles of St. Paul, enlightened with divine light, went forth from his darkness, and began to lead a life of holiness. Thus also St. Ignatius, while a soldier, by reading a volume of the lives of the saints which he accidentally took up, in order to get rid of the tediousness of the bed to which he was confined by sickness, was led to begin a life of sanctity, and became the Father and Founder of the Society of Jesus—an Order which has done so much for the Church. Thus also by reading a pious book accidentally and almost against his will, St. John Colombino left the world, became a saint, and the founder of another religious Order. St. Augustine relates that two courtiers of the Emperor Theodosius entered one day into a monastery of solitaries; one of them began to read the life of St. Anthony, which he found in one of the cells; so strong was the impression made upon him, that he resolved to take leave of the world. He then addressed his companion with so much fervor that both of them remained in the monastery to serve God. We read in the Chronicles of the Discalced Carmelites that a lady in Vienna was prepared to go to a festivity, but because it was given up she fell into a violent passion. To divert her attention she began to read a spiritual book that was at hand, and conceived such a contempt for the world, that she abandoned it and became a Teresian nun.


The OP suggested that the books contained sexually explicit material. I am taking her word for it.




Lives of The Saints: For Everyday in the Year



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