Whatever you do, do not be mislead. It’s bad company that corrupts good character. And it’s the companion of fools that will suffer harm. But, dear homeschooling mother, those who walk with wise men will be wise. For this reason, let’s talk about books and their role as company to our children. In spite of all the literary options available, there are certain books that are the best books. And every teen should read them before they graduate.
First of all, we need to define company to make certain that we’re on the same page. While we’re initially addressing the topic of books as company, bear in mind what is behind the cover of a book. At first you may think that I’m referring to the words. In part I am. But past the words is an author who crafts them. And every author has ideas to present to your child. And keep in the forefront of your mind that ideas have consequences.
For reference, let’s define company by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
- In military affairs, the soldiers united under the command of a captain.
- An assemblage of persons for entertainment.
- Persons that associate with others for conversation or pleasure; society.
- The state of being a companion; the act of accompanying; fellowship; society.
Indeed, this applies to your teen just as much as it does to you. For it’s a spiritual battle that we fight. And the mind is the battleground.
In military affairs, soldiers unite under the command of a captain. With this in mind, it begs the question, “Who is the captain?” In other words, who or what is in charge and is the influence behind the ideas your teen embraces?
That being said, authors may try to use their platform to influence your teens either for or against Christ. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the intent of an author’s message.
Mainly, it’s the kind of entertainment found within the book that’s of concern. What is the cause to effect of its pleasure? Seeing that books may amuse or instruct, we need to carefully consider the pleasure which the mind receives from any thing an author presents as interesting. Are there word pictures that may arouse sinful desires which feed the flesh? Or do they plant seeds in the soil of thought which nurture the Fruits of the Holy Spirit?
In addition to the points above, company refers to persons that associate with others for conversation or pleasure. In their own right, books are a form of society that one keeps. Yes indeed, books are an author in print. With attention to who the author is, would you want your teen to keep company with the author in person?
In some instances a parent may want to have their teen read something controversial in nature. Often times it’s with the intent of helping their teen to understand an opposing view. But the key in this instance is for the parent to invest in reading the content as well. And then as a team discuss the topics together in the light of Scripture. Teens need guidance; they don’t want to have to try and feel their way through important matters.
Have you ever looked up the word fellowship? It may surprise you to learn that it’s more than just gathering with people. To clarify its definition, it means “partnership; joint interest; communion; intimate familiarity…. a union.” This adds a whole other weight to the importance of the role that literature has in the lives of our teens.
How to Handle Bad Company Within Good Books
Naturally, our teens encounter bad company in life. And it goes without saying that it isn’t any different when reading good books. So, the way to handle this is to have your teens be ready to do character studies of characters that authors portray. Needless to say, your teen will need to have his Bible on hand to hold up actions, thoughts, and ideas in the light of Scripture. But be aware that bad company within good books is different than books that are flat out lousy books.
What is that difference? Good books clearly draw a line between what is good and what is evil. And they uphold virtues according to God’s standard as the desirable ideas and behaviors to emulate. Whereas raunchy books cast sin and evil as acceptable in thought and in deed.
Walking With Wise Men
To emphasize the value of walking with wise men is one of the greatest responsibilities we mothers have. And where we may lack access to wisdom in some areas, we can certainly find it in the writings of wise men.
For us to help nurture and shape the thinking of our teens is to bless them, their future, our communities, and even our nation. Furthermore, our teens begin to develop discernment. That being said, here is my list of some of the best books for teens to read.
25 Best Books Every Teen Should Read Before They Graduate
- A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell
- Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewiez
- The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
- The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Berlin Diary by William Shirer
- Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
- The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C. Douglas
- The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
- The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy
- The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Copper
- Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
- The Tree of Liberty by Elizabeth Page
- Matthew Fontaine Maury: Scientist of the Sea by Frances Williams
- Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
- The Magna Charta by James Daugherty
- The Boys of ’76: A History of the Battles of the Revolution by Charles C. Coffin
- The Story of Liberty by Charles C. Coffin
- Sweet Land of Liberty by Charles C. Coffin
- The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Ishmael by E.D.E.N. Southworth (Lamplighter Publishing)
- The Thunder: A Novel on John Knox by Douglas Bond
Please note that some of these books are currently out of print, but they are worth hunting down and may be available at your local library or used bookstore.
Create a Literature Notebook
As your teens read through these books, learning valuable lessons, and taking note of the character traits of the main characters, it is a good idea for them to keep a notebook or journal of their discoveries. One of the best tools I have found to use comes from one of our favorite homeschool resources, Productive Homeschooling (formerly NotebookingPagesdotcom). With the Literature Study Set included with membership, in total, you’ll have more nearly 100 themed pages for your student to use to create his Literature Notebook (a simple 3-ring binder), including character study pages, background information, chapter summaries, literary device and vocabulary pages, and more.