Books About Tough Issues

Serving Young Teens and ‘Tweens by Sheila B. Anderson talks about how tweens are going through a lot at this stage in their lives. This is also a time when they begin to pull away from their parents, for this entry we will say they pull away from their parents as a source of information (Chapter 2, 2007).  That is why it is important for them to have other resources to get the information they need.  This can sometimes make parents uncomfortable.  They don’t like their kids reading about tough issues.  This is understandable but these issues are not going to go away.  Sometimes fiction is a good way to introduce a tough issue.  For instance, death can be a tricky subject at any age.  But if they start off knowing that they story is not real but the events could happen it could soften the blow.  Bridge to Terabithia is a great book for this purpose particularly for those that are 9 to 11.

WARNING: Tear-jerker
128 pages
John Newbery Medal winner

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Jess has been working hard all summer to win the title of the “fastest boy in the fifth grade.”  Little did he know that the new girl next door would change all that.  Leslie wins his title in an unexpected turn of events.  This links them together for the rest of one of their lives.  These two band together and change the their world while creating another. Battling bullies in one and building a kingdom in another.  Leslie teaches Jess to be a king and to believe in his own abilities as a person and as an artists. Jess gives her the best gift of all friendship,  he stands up for her when no one else doses and excepts her for who she is.

One of these characters does die and it leaves the other devastated and detached from the world.  Death can be very hard to talk about. The question of what happens after you die is brought up in this book  which is bound to be a question that a tween or younger child will ask.  If a parent does not feel comfortable talking about the subject then they could get books on the topic. But more importantly if a tween doesn’t feel comfortable asking a parent about this subject or another one like it, they can find the answers they are looking for. That is why it is so important that books fiction and nonfiction containing tough issues are keep on library shelves and in bookstores.

Movie 2007


One thought on “Books About Tough Issues

  1. I think you have done a wonderful job presenting the topic on “tough issues” as well as your summary of your chosen book. Mentioning that tweens are pulling away from their parents/guardians as their main source of information and in need of a replacement is a sound approach that may aid other individuals accepting “challenged books” dealing with sensitive issues. Great point…. These issues aren’t going away. I love the book “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and think the movie is amazingly well done. I’m glad the movie was able to have a PG-13 rating so more adolescents will view it. The book/movie covers a host of tough issues.

    As an adult, I love giving books as gifts. It probably comes as a big surprise to other LIS individuals. I more often gift children’s books (picture books) because they tend to guarantee for adults that they will have time to read them. I have come across many children’s picture books that deal with death and/or loss. My absolute favorite and recent Caldecott winner is “A Ball for Daisy” which perfectly depicts (without a single word) all the psychological textbook stages of grief. I’ve had a lot of fear of loss in my life of loved ones because of past loss and one book that has been therapeutic is “Love you Forever”. Even the 2008 Kate Greenway winner “Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears” I believe is a wonderful children’s book and even know tweens to adults that love how anxiety and phobias are presented and teaching the idea of keeping a journal and facing fears is a wonderful message. I know a few psychologist friends, regardless of adult only or both children and adult patients that have a copy of that book, granted I think I helped spread its popularity by gifting to my friend and past pediatrician of 20 years.

    I think as a teenager I read Frankenstein at least a dozen times. That was my “tough issues” book. I’m not sure many would view it so much in the “realistic fiction” category but maybe with all the advances in the sciences it isn’t too outlandish today. I understood and identified with the monster’s longing for love of his “father” (parent), trying to fill a void through the acceptance of others, running away from home, and not always the happiest of home environments. The book was a present from a teacher that said it got her through her tough times when she recognized that I too was going through tough times. Another book given to me after one of my aunt’s passed away and wasn’t coping well was given by a middle school librarian, colleague, the book “A Dog’s Life: Autobiography of a Stray”. Yes, the narrator and protagonist is a dog, but the story is still amazing and the message is powerful. When I chose to read it to my class I had to explain that if they see me reading them a book that it is definitely one of my favorites.

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