Monday, May 23, 2016

Clean Teen Reads - the short and personal list

One of the most common things I am asked is "Do you have any recommendations for clean reads?" It's a fair question and I'm personally a fan of clean youth literature. There are great novels out there across the spectrum - addressing a variety of important issues. This post is not meant to disparage any type of book - it's simply a list of my favorite clean novels.

Young Teens
(though these are classic, beautiful novels that any age would appreciate):

The Hired Girl by Amy Schultz (historical)
My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt (contemporary
Getting Near to Baby by Audrey Couloumbis (contemporary)
Blue Birds by Caroline Rose Starr (historical verse)
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (historical)
The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (historical/fantasy of sorts)
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (magical realism)
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (contemp.)
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt (historical)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (the first historical novel I fell in love with as a young teen, and still one of my favorites)

this list could go on and on because most middle grade (meaning intended for the audience ages 9-13) is clean and so there are a ton of really wonderful books that could easily fall on this list - but these are my tried and true favorites -- at least, the ones that come to mind right now.

Older Teens
  (NOTE:  please see disclaimer below)

Queen of Water by Laura Resau (contemporary - set in Ecuador - beautiful, beautiful story)
Red Glass by Laura Resau (I love her novels and they are most often really clean reads!)
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (a great Western/Mystery that won the Edgar Award a bit back)
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (historical/one edgy scene - but one of my all time favorite books. So worth the read!)
Charlotte's Rose by AE Cannon (historical)
Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani (mystery/suspense)
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (who hasn't read this? If it's you - get on it..and have tissues handy)
Wishing Moon by Michael O. Tunnell
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (okay, this is technically an adult novel but it is SO good -- any teen seeking a great read would love it)

And some boy-centric novels: 
(though girls would like these just as much):
Prizefighter in Mi Casa by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo (so, so good!)
Alabama Moon by Watt Key
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri
Icefall by Mathew Kirby
Levithan by Scott Westerfield
The False Prince (series) by Jennifer A Nielsen
Variant by Robison Wells
Any graphic novel....there are a lot of great ones out there
younger boys: the Oragami Yoda series was super fun and is great for young boy readers

 Young Adult Series:
I have a daughter who loves to read YA series and I've had to make an effort to find some that fit my personal "clean-comfort" level as her mom (especially when she was a younger teen). A few of the clean series that she really enjoyed include (I'm just naming the first book in each series but all are good): Matched by Ally Condie, Everlost by Neal Shusterman, My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Additional note: An available resource for families is - you can search and find a break down of what is in the book (sensitive topic to have anything that resembles book ratings, I know, but I personally think there's nothing wrong with being able to make an informed decision. It's not a judgement - it's just information). The site isn't all inclusive, but it's been a good resource for our family. 


Disclaimer:  My definition of 'clean' and your definition of 'clean' may not be the same thing. That's okay! But please keep that in mind. My definition of a 'clean' teen read has mild-if-any swearing, mild-if-any sexual situations (simple kiss, etc) and not-over-the-top violence (though many dystopian series seem to lean toward some violence so be advised).

Tell me...what are some of your favorite clean reads? I'd really love to add to my list!


Faith E. Hough said...

Great list, Tess! I totally agree about MG novels; so many of them are such great literature that both teens and adults would love them, too.
Historical fiction is often cleaner than contemporary, at least--well, again, that has to do with personal taste. There's less sex, more violence in general. Michaela MacColl's historical fiction is never gratuitous or graphic, although some heavier topics are mentioned. And they're old school, but the Betsy-Tacy books were some of my own favorites as a teen.

Tess said...

Faith: Thanks for adding your thoughts - I'm going to look into those ... always interested in adding to this list! :D