Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teen Books That Even She'll Love to Read

I've been bragging on our teen daughter, S, lately and how amazing she is to me.  Granted, she is still completely human and has struggled and rebelled like the rest of us have.  However, at her core is just a compassionate, mature, phenomenal person that I am honored to have in my life.  I am awed by her strength and grace just about every day in big and small ways.

How did she get to be so incredible, you ask?

Of course, her life experiences and being a part of a faith-filled family have certainly helped mold her into the young woman she has become, but along with those, we have tried to fill her life with an ample library of character-building books (and teaching her to love reading helps, too).  I've talked through some of these with her over the years and I'd like to share with you just some of the books she's read in the past few years and actually enjoyed as a teen girl.

These are books she might recommend to other teen girls if she was running her own blog...

The Holy Bible

I should note that S does not own this particular teen Bible, but another that we purchased for her in a local shop (and was not available online to provide a link).  But I think any version of the Holy Bible should be at the top of any teen's reading list.

Ask Hayley, Volumes 1-3 - by Hayley DiMarco
These volumes look like magazines with article length advice and glossy photographs, which is ideal for a busy teen girl.  I don't know how many times S has poured over these and shared them with her friends.  These are a staple in her carry-on bag when we travel (by car or plane) and serve as a light read (timewise, not topically) when she just needs a quick break between something with a lot of chapters in it.

Do Hard Things and Start Here - by Alex & Brett Harris
When I think about how hard our daughter, S, has worked voluntarily in a variety of environments and not for worldly gain, I am just astounded with her serving heart.  Books like these have certainly challenged her to move beyond the world's expectations for teen girls and seek more in her life.

A Guide for Teens: The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make - by Sean Covey
This is another book I've seen her read more than once.  She has a good head on her shoulders, too, so I really think books like this one are helpful while she is still a teen to prepare for adulthood.
Becoming Me (and other books from the Diary of a Teenage Girl series) - by Melody Carlson
This series of books by Melody Carlson are fictional stories written in first-person, diary-style.  She has read a number of these over the years, but I am providing the link to the first in the series for you here.  She felt a little strange when reading the first one only because she had never encountered a book written like this and I think it unnerved her to be reading someone's "diary," because, I think, she started thinking about, "What if someone read my diary?"  But ultimately, she did like these books and their underlying positive messages.

Never Been Kissed - by Melody Carlson
After knowing she enjoyed the Diary series (above), by Melody Carlson, we got her this fiction book, which she also enjoyed quite a bit.  Even though I tend to read a lot of non-fiction myself, I think it's good to blend in some fiction books that also exemplify godly character qualities for teens.  She has read several fictional series over the years, but these that I'm mentioning here by Melody Carlson seemed more relatable to her than the ones of Amish girls and girls living in different periods of history that she has also read.  Although, S said that this one was not quite as good as the Becoming Me book above.

Every Teen Girl's Little Pink Book - by Cathy Bartel
S actually walked in on me as I was typing up this post (and I was able to verify all the books I'll be including in this post that they are the best ones she's read regarding good character building stuff) and she saw the picture of the Little Pink Book and she was reminiscing about what a good book that was.  I believe this is a collection of a few books in one for the "gift edition."  There are other versions of this book, but I posted the picture and link for the one she has.

YW (Youth Walk) magazine
This miniature-sized magazine is filled with Scripture and devotionals and current Christian music news, etc. just for teens.  It always seems to arrive on just the right day when she needs a bit of encouragement.

No Body's Perfect - by Kimberly Kirberger
 For teens who like short stories, much like those found in Chicken Soup for the ____ Soul series of books (S is a huge fan of the Chicken Soup books), this is a really great one to increase in them self-acceptance about their own bodies and identity.  The world is full of a lot of things that seem to degrade women (young and old), so I like to make sure we are constantly building our girls up about their characters and individual beauty to counterbalance what else they see and hear in the world.  One easy way to do that is to provide them with a book like this.

Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free - by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh
I remember back when she read this she was really surprised by things that were "lies."  I figured this book might contain a lot of review material for a girl who is steadily in the Word and surrounded by good influences, but she was really broken free from some things that she'd held onto before reading the book.  It was exciting to see the growth in her (as evidenced by our many discussions about what she was reading) throughout her experience with this book.

This is Now - by Patti M. Hummel
We encourage all our kids to stay in the Word, but sometimes just sitting down with the Holy Bible can feel a bit intimidating.  I know our son, H, tells me how he usually ends up reading the same stories over and over (because he loves them), or sometimes when someone from church recommends a story or section, he'll look that up.  S has read through the entire Bible following a reading plan, but she has reread many, many passages that she finds encouraging and enlightening.

Now, devotionals, are especially helpful for a start to their day (or an ending if they prefer doing them at nighttime like S does).  If you are not familiar with devotionals, they tend to base a daily reading on a particular verse or passage.  It gives some new perspective on maybe familiar verses.  Sometimes, it inspires us to look more deeply at adjacent verses and therefore gives us a new place to start in our Bibles -- much like when a friend suggests we look up a particular part.

The writing in them is concise and to the point, for the most part, and often gives some life application tips.  This is Now was one of S's most favorite teen devotionals (though she's done several of them).  She finally had been through it so many times that she passed it onto her teen cousin, who also loves devotionals, and will hopefully pass it down to her sister after she's gone through it a time or two.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships - by Joshua Harris
S received this book as a gift from another homeschooling, adoptive, Christian family we knew upon finalization of her adoption.  We saved it for a couple years because she was a little young and distracted to really appreciate the message at age 11.  But when she read it at 13, this book generated many really great discussions.  There were several points she shared that she did not particularly agree with (at age 13), but that she could appreciate the author's view on the subject.  And many things she read here actually influenced her decisions about dating in the years to come.

She has since donated this book to our homeschooling collection so that her brothers and sister may read it when they get to an age when it will make sense for them.  It's a fairly well-known book, but well-known for a reason.  There are some incredibly high standards set forth by this book and don't know that most people would be able to follow every bit of advice.  However, it does set forth a new kind of model in lieu of "dating," and definitely helps young people reevaluate what they see and learn from television and in the world to better decide what model to strive for in their own lives.

Before You Meet Prince Charming: A Guide to Radiant Purity - by Sarah Mally
I learned about this book while watching an episode of 19 Kids and Counting.  The teen girls in the Duggar family had read this book and one episode featured a visit from the book's author.  I appreciate insight I've gained from the Duggar's television show, books and website, so I decided to order the book for S to see what she thought.

It turns out that she loved what is taught in this book (I think, even better than Joshua Harris' book) because it is not so focused on the dating vs. courting debate, but rather on developing her own godly character to prepare herself to become the ideal wife for the man God has chosen for her to marry.  I remember her changing some major perspectives about things regarding her behavior and thoughts throughout the reading of this book and those changes are still with her today.

Dateable: Are You? Are They? - by Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco

When I ran across this book, co-written by Hayley DiMarco, I knew it was one S would like to read.  Guys and relationships are heavy on the mind of every teen girl, so I like to help her have as much positive influence about these subjects as possible so she is constantly soaking her mind in what godly characteristics should be apparent as she prepares herself and/or opens her eyes and takes closer looks at the young men she is surrounded by.  This was her most recent "for fun" read and she has really poured over the pages and taken the book with her at every opportunity when she might have a few moments to read something that isn't for school.

Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti - by Chad Eastham

Guys Like Girls Who... - by Chad Eastham

First, I'd gotten S the Waffles and Spaghetti book mostly because around age 15 and 16, she was just inundating me with questions about why boys were so weird and different in their general way about things.  I was able to answer some things based on my own experiences with my father, my husband and our sons (plus a variety of other guys I've had in my life), but this book was just really well-written for teens.  It's funny and entertaining and just really gets in there and answers a lot of questions that she wasn't even thinking to ask.

Then, when she liked that one so much, I was recommended the Guys like Girls book because it's the same author.  She also enjoyed this book, which focused less on the differences between girls and guys and more on the essence of what guys are really looking for in a personal relationship.  This is not to suggest that girls should mold themselves into someone to gain the attention of a guy, but rather, it's about developing those good character qualities in ourselves that make us generally more likable people for others of any gender.

More Than a Carpenter - by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

This is actually a classic, originally written in 1977 by Josh McDowell, but updated and revised with/by his son, Sean, for a new generation of readers.

Originally, S was assigned to read this book as part of her high school curriculum through My Father's World), but then this year at SOM, they want the students to read and report on the book again.  So she has had two assigned readings of this book.  Now that she's gone through twice, she says it's a book I should even read and that it's not just appropriate for teens.  I take that to mean that she thinks it's worth reading even if it's not an assignment.

When she was rereading the book, she quoted from it that Jesus was either a "Liar, a Lunatic or Lord."  What was ironic is that we'd just heard a message at church the prior Sunday where that quote was attributed to C.S. Lewis and is referred to, online, as Lewis's Trilemma.  So it was just kind of funny to hear the same quote twice from different sources in the same week.

Basically, I think this book isn't so much about the reader, but more about Jesus's character.  He is our ultimate role model.


There are a lot of good books out there to help teens build good character and these are just a few that S has read and recommends.  If you know of others, I'm sure she'd be ecstatic to receive your recommendations.  But feel free to pass a link to this post onto your friends with teens (or about to be teens) and get the word out about these great books.


  1. I didn't get through all of this entry yet but just wanted to mention that I downloaded an audiobook by Melody Carlson to listen to with L on her visit, and I was kind of annoyed with some of the content (and glad L was asleep during much of it).

    I guess Carlson books are more suitable for older girls, or maybe you just have to pick and choose which books of hers you read. This particular series (Mixed Bags) didn't even seem Christian for the first half that I listened to. Not that I'm saying books have to have cliche Christian scenes and characters, but it just had a very secular vibe to begin with. I'm not sure if maybe it redeemed itself by the end. Just thought I'd throw that out there for anyone reading.

  2. You know, I remember S saying something about how the beginnings of the Melody Carlson books were very "worldly," but she felt that the overall messages were good by the end of them. And she was an older teen when she read them, so it may mean the difference.

    With all of these suggestions, it depends on the teen, too. This is just one mom's/teen's recommendations because I know how difficult it can be to sift through all the options available out there and I was hoping to provide some feedback based on our own experiences.

  3. Yeah, it depends on what they like and what sort of experiences they've had, for sure!

    And I hear you (or S) on the whole Amish thing. I just started reading some Amish fiction in the past couple of years, and it's pretty good, but why is there SO MUCH? Oh my gosh! When you do searches for Christian fiction, 90% of it is either Amish fiction or historical romance. There's not a lot of good modern-day stuff.