What Teens Read

Next time you’re in the bookstore, browse the teen fiction section. Notice anything? There are rows and rows of paranormal stories on the shelves. Author, Jennifer Tubbiolo discusses why these books sell and what gaps we need to fill as Christians.

Many mainstream books for teens today center on extraordinarily gifted characters. The thing is, these characters usually defeat the villain by finding strength inside themselves, using their own gifts, with no reliance on God. Christian teen fiction, on the other hand, tends to focus on tough issues like friendship, dating, and family—which is great. But teens today are also very concerned about the big problems in the world…problems they are going to face.

The Gap

Teens are passionately on the side of justice, and incredibly strong. (Yes, strong. I know this flies in the face of the reputation of this generation, but it’s true.) They are also unsure about how to effect change in the world, and fear that when it comes down to it, they might end up alone.

Teens are passionately on the side of justice, and incredibly strong.”

Teen readers could use more stories that show God supporting his people in supernatural ways…like how Elijah asks God to open Elisha’s spiritual eyes to the army of angels surrounding them (2 Kings 6:17–20). Teens need to picture this, experience the truth of it, and most of all, trust in Jesus to fight alongside them when the time comes (Revelation 19:11).

Truly Gifted

My hope is that more stories will include teen characters with biblically based gifts and normal problems, and show God entrusting them to do great things even when the adults in their lives lack faith in them. Let teens be heroes and heroines alongside Jesus and his heavenly army—let them see examples of how they might develop spiritual gifts to do good in this world. I know God wants great things for them.

What about you? Growing up, what books made the biggest impact on you?