When I read for fun, I’m not looking for a sermon. Most readers feel this way (non-adults included).
Recreational reading is fun, but you can bet my beliefs, morals, and experiences (world view) are coming in with me. To be fair, you should expect that an author will also bring their world view too. It’s very human.
Stories can be a great way to challenge how and what I think, as long as its done in a fun way, but I hate being preached to. You know, “you will think this way because…,” or, “if you don’t think this way, you are…” Like that really works. So when an author (or TV show) tries to tell me what to think, and I disagree, I often stop reading (or watching TV).
Before we banish all fiction that portends social relevance, there is nothing wrong with stories that deal in difficult subjects. Some of the best novels are about tough things. Charlotte’s Web was on banned lists for a long time.
Maybe a few suggestions.
- Avoid stories that treat you like you don’t have a mind, or don’t allow you space to disagree. These stories may attempt to think for you. If you don’t share the same world view there should be no harm and no foul, and the author shouldn’t belittle for disagreeing.
- Avoid novels that manipulate (melodrama). These stories have the amputee little boy or girl adopt the three legged dog because they child knows what it’s like to not be wanted for the same reason. Melodrama is dishonest and unfair.
- if you are a “kid,” asking a caregiver to read a book with you is a very non-threatening way to look at a topic. My own son did this once or twice, so I know it works.
During my time as a University student, I had an advisor that was wonderfully honest and I appreciate something he said, allow me to paraphrase.
- Fiction is full of agendas, it must be, because it is a human story. Every story teller and audience is human, and filled with opinions. You may be the preacher preaching to the choir, or you may be in the choir getting preached to (even if you don’t want to be). Regardless, always think for yourself and be sure you grant others the same opportunity.
Here are a couple good novels for difficult topics.
- Speak – Laura Halsey Anderson. This novel deals with the topic of rape in a very sensitive way. It’s also well written. A good template for novels and tough issues.
- Running Lean – Diana Sharples This novel deals with eating disorders in a hopeful, respectful, and sensitive way.