Could you recommend reading material for adolescents?

I have 15-year-old freshman attending a Catholic high school and last summer before his freshman year he was required to read Chocolate Wars. The book is littered with impurity passed off as normal behavior. My son read it but was not happy about it. However, it did serve as an opportunity for us to talk about the moral problems with the book and other similar literature. I am going to talk with the principal but want to have some constructive alternatives I can suggest that would better suit the reading requirement for an adolescent entering his first year at a Catholic high school. Can you suggest any morally sound adolescent literature that I can suggest?

Thanks for any suggestions or direction you can provide.

I’m not sure of the book to which you refer, but think it might be The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Although I have not read the book, the description of it on Amazon.com makes it sound very interesting:

Does Jerry Renault dare to disturb the universe? You wouldn’t think that his refusal to sell chocolates during his school’s fundraiser would create such a stir, but it does; it’s as if the whole school comes apart at the seams. To some, Jerry is a hero, but to others, he becomes a scapegoat–a target for their pent-up hatred. And Jerry? He’s just trying to stand up for what he believes, but perhaps there is no way for him to escape becoming a pawn in this game of control; students are pitted against other students, fighting for honor–or are they fighting for their lives? In 1974, author Robert Cormier dared to disturb our universe when this book was first published. And now, with a new introduction by the celebrated author, The Chocolate War stands ready to shock a new group of teen readers (source).

Part of the literary education of teenagers is to be able to analyze stories and to detect what themes and messages the author is trying to get across. In the creation of such stories, the author may create situations that are not always morally pure, and it is the duty of parents to help their teens understand such passages, as you did with your son. But, unless a parent feels that his child is not yet mature enough to read such passages – and only a parent knows his child well enough to discern that – there is no need to entirely shield a mature teenager from stories that are not entirely morally pure.

There are two books I recommend. The first one is *How to Read a Dirty Book *by Irving and Cornelia Sussman, Catholics who were authors and educators in literature and drama in the 1960s. That book gives great insight into how to read literature that contains difficult passages. It is out of print now, but should be available through used-book sellers or through interlibrary loan. For reading recommendations for your son, I recommend Imagining Faith With Kids by Mary Margaret Keaton. In addition to helping parents teach their kids how to read literature, she also includes lists of age-appropriate literature for children and teens.

Recommended reading:

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