"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tween and Teen Book Recommendations and Why My Boys Won't Be Reading the Ranger's Apprentice Series

A few years ago, I started to see recommendations for The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan popping up in various places. A couple of years ago, I sent an email to my local Catholic homeschool group asking for opinions about this series. Everyone responded very positively about the series, save for one mother. This friend of mine sent the following response:
I read the series out loud to Peter. He really enjoyed them and I liked them well enough. The downside is the occasional, infrequent swear word... I'm not certain, but I think the usage of swear words increased slightly in later books. Since I was reading it, I could omit those, of course.

One upside that I appreciated was the fact that bad guys were bad and good guys were good - no role confusion. :) In one of the books, the bad guy was really cruel and it had me squirming a bit - he kept people in outdoor cages for punishment. That was the only uncomfortable moment for me since he seemed a bit demented, which is worse than just bad... if you see what I mean.

Hope that helps!
There are so many good/great books that have been published for boys that after reading about the swearing that takes place in this series, I decided that it was not a series that I wanted to introduce to any of my children.

In one of his sermons, my pastor once stated, "You wouldn't eat around the poison in an apple, so why would you watch a movie with poison in it." I think that the same standard applies to books. As my husband says, "The water is slowly getting hotter and the frog isn't jumping out."

So what books are there for tween and teen boys? Quite a few come to my mind. These include:

Anything by Fr. Francis Finn
Vision books about male saints (and others. Mary Fabyan Windeatt's books are also good, but my children prefer the Vision books)
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Red Keep by Allen French
Blood Red Crescent by Henry Garnett
Crossbows and Crucifixes: A Novel of the Priest Hunters and the Brave Young Men Who Fought Them by Henry Garnett
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanor M. Jewett
Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody
Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton
Red Falcons of Tremoine by Hendry Peart
Beorn the Proud by Madeleine A. Polland
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
The Story of the Champions of the Round Table by Howard Pyle
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serrailier
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Outlaws of Ravenhurst (We have this version and this version of this book.) by Sr. M. Imelda Wallace
The Treegate series of books by Leonard Wibberley
Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard
Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard
If All the Swords in England: A Story of Thomas Becket by Barbara Willard
This book made an impression on me. All of my children who have read this book have been affected by it too.
and more...

*After further consideration, I have decided to remove Gulliver's Travels rather than linking to the abridged version (I am partial to unabridged books). Julia let me know in the comments that Seton Home Study School recommends reading the abridged edition of this book. I contacted Seton to find out why and one of the counselors responded:
"Thank you for your e-mail. I believe you're referring to the recommended reading list for English 10, which has a note following Gulliver's Travels saying 'abridged, edited.' Such a designation, along with notes like 'Mature' on the English 11 reading list, are typically in response to feedback from parents. The recommendation for this particular title of the abridged version would have been in response to parents calling to request that the unabridged version not be recommended at a tenth grade level."
I asked one of my daughters and my oldest son about the unabridged version of Gulliver's Travels and they both told me that there are two parts in the book that are inappropriate. I am thinking that I must have read an abridged version when I was younger because I was shocked at what I was told. Thank you, Julia, for bringing Seton's recommendation to my attention.

Recommendations for younger boys can be found here and here.

My oldest son is a young teen, so I do not know what he will like as an older teen yet.

Please note: If I ever recommend anything that seems contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, please let me know. My friend, Elena, can tell you that I appreciate the heads up and will listen. I will also remove recommendations from my blog (and items from my home) if need be.


  1. Julia9:19 PM

    I have never read Gulliver's Travels, but I know that Seton Home Study School's 10th grade book list has it listed and in parentheses says "abridged version only" or something like that. Since I haven't read it, I don't know why they say this, but it might be a good idea for you to look into it.
    By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog posts. You have a beautiful family and congratulations on your little one who is due soon!

  2. Thank you, Julia. I will contact someone at Seton to find out why they recommend the "abridged version only". I do not recall anything being amiss in the book, but I read it in junior high or high school. I appreciate the heads up

  3. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Thanks for the list - my girls will enjoy these also. Reviewing literature has nearly become my full time job along.

  4. You're welcome, Elena. When I have a little free time, I will ask the girls to recommend additional books that your girls might like.

  5. Anonymous8:19 PM

    Hi Christine!
    Thanks for the list, and I agree with your post about the Ranger's series. We shall keep you in prayer as your date comes closer:)
    Kathleen L.

  6. You're welcome, Kathleen and thank you. Your prayers mean a lot to me.


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