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by Tamara Grantham
The pandemic has brought many changes. Some—like recognizing blessings we once took for granted—are positive. Other changes have brought unexpected difficulties. Case in point—mental health. Isolation is a tricky beast. A few minutes spent in introspection can lead to inspiration, but days of isolation and introspection can lead to feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and ultimately depression. For teens, these feelings are magnified and even more difficult to process. Teens are prone to feelings of questioning their self-worth, and isolation from peers and wholesome activities only amplifies these feelings.
How are we as parents to help our teens overcome these burdens, especially when the go-to forms of entertainment during isolation come in the forms of electronics and social media? While the dangers of social media have become more acknowledged in recent years, it doesn’t come as a shock. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Such a sentiment couldn’t be truer in today’s world of hyper-focusing on outward appearances, which is only compounded by a barrage of perfectly edited images streaming on your teen’s favorite device.
How are teens to know their self-worth when comparing themselves to such fictional portrayals of life? If all they see are the outward projections, how are they ever to understand true human nature along with its intricacies, failures, triumphs, and diversities?
The answer can be found in good wholesome literature.
Books help readers see the world through the eyes of multiple perspectives. Readers get the unique experience of internalizing a wide array of human emotions. Rather than images on a screen of outward, photoshopped life, reading wholesome literature can help readers—and especially teens—empathize with human emotions. Even if they have no personal experience with such situations, they can imagine what they might do. Would they make the same choice as the characters? Would they choose to do something else? Alternately, if they have had experience with a similar situation, would the choices proposed in the book change their perspective? Would they have acted differently?
Through wholesome literature, readers can uncover a treasure trove of positive messages they can understand and connect with in unique ways. Truths that may have been difficult to understand become clear. Even Jesus taught life-changing principles in the form of parables.
But how are parents to find wholesome literature—and find books so entertaining as to rival the all-powerful screen?
Some resources include a long list of catalogue titles from Cedar Fort—books ranging from children’s literature to titles for adults.
Another method for screening books can found in various websites listing “book ratings.” However, keep in mind that one person’s opinion on morality may not be the same as another’s.
Classic literature such as The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and many other titles by classic authors can be a boon to parents looking for wholesome literature.
In addition, modern books for teens with strong moral messages can be found in a new exciting fantasy series written by an author with a purpose. Author Tamara Grantham is giving 5% of all book sales to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or AFSP. Although her books focus mainly on fun and fantastical stories, she hopes that her messages of positivity will resonate with her readers through her writing.
The Not-So-Chosen One focuses on a teenage boy named Gordy Simpleton, who wants to be the “Chosen One.” Unfortunately, the newly escaped Wraith king has killed all the potential Chosen. When the Wraith king's crows attack Gordy's sister, her transformation into a wraith is inevitable. Only the now-extinct Chosen One can save her. Gordy hatches a plan to trick the Wraith king into believing he's the Chosen One. With the help of his cousin and a mysterious girl named Luria, Gordy struggles to become the best pretend Chosen One the world has ever seen. If only he could convince the Wraith king and save his sister . . . and not doom the world in the process.
The author hopes that through her story, children can begin to realize their own self-worth. In addition, with her donations, she hopes to shed a light on the availability of help for those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. Although still somewhat a taboo subject, her wish is for teens to know they’re not alone and treatment is available. The AFSP plays an active role in communities, helping to reach out and be a beacon for those seeking help.
While the pandemic may have brought about many changes in our daily lives, it has also brought opportunities. Opportunities for change, for growth, for new experiences—and most of all—for healing, and ultimately, for hope.