I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Biblio-files: Helping You Find Clean Page-Turners for Your Kids

boy holding stack of middle-grade fiction books

Recently while perusing my library’s audiobook selections, I came upon a book marked E for Everyone. It had a lovely illustration of a young woman hugging what looked to be an elderly individual. Since the American Library Association had filed it under “children’s fiction” so that it would appear as a suggested title for kids as young as two and three, I naturally assumed it would at least be appropriate for me, a 43-year-old. I could not have been more wrong.

Biblio-files: Helping You Find Clean Page-Turners for Your Kids #kidlit #shelfie #homeschoollife #christianhomeschool

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Beware kid-lit ratings

The book was a graphic novel about a granddaughter who “rescues” her grandmother from a care facility in order to take her on one last adventure. While the basic premise was one I think most parents would feel comfortable with, I think they’d be shocked to learn that the book includes the following:

  • several full and quite graphic nude scenes
  • characters smoking marijuana together
  • a couple arguing about watching porn too much
  • a visual of the granddaughter having a one-night stand with a woman she met at a hotel
  • explicit language
  • and so much more!

Whether this was the accidental miscoding of a book or a deliberate and calculated act of grooming on the part of the ALA remains to be seen.

The good news: After many moms complained, including a great band from those in The Unlikely Homeschool community, the title in question was updated in the national online catalog to indicate an M for Mature rating.

The bad news: This wasn’t the first time the ALA pushed a depraved agenda in kid lit and I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Why just today, I stumbled upon another kid-lit offering being lauded as "delightfully compelling," "playful," and "a powerful coming out story." One simple flip-through revealed an illustration that said "Sex work is work," and the following lines in the text:

"I've eaten vagina and I like it."

"F*c* men. I'm dating women too."

According to the average public library, bookstore, and online retailer, this is a book for kids under 18.)

boy reading The Pushcart Wars

We are the literary gatekeepers

As parents, we are the gatekeepers for the next generation. Just as we lock our doors to prevent intruders from entering and physically harming our kids, we need to be equally as vigilant when it comes to the thieves who would love to enter their minds and hearts and steal away their innocence. We need to be watchful!

"I don’t have time to pre-read every book in the library or bookstore," you may be thinking to yourself.
Of course, you don’t. No one does. According to the most updated findings from the American Library Association, roughly 22,000 children’s books get published each year. How can anyone preread that many titles?

But, what if you were able to access a handful of titles each month, just like the ones I’ve provided in my No Twaddle list—books that had already been pre-vetted for sexual content, liberal agenda, graphic violence, and explicit language?

What if that list came from someone whose opinion you've already grown to trust?

As a Christian writer, an avid reader, the host of a bi-weekly tween/teen book club, and a teacher who's spent the past 21 years helping kids discover great books both in and out of the classroom, I'd love to help you curate a stack of books each month for your kids. 

stack of leveled American History biography readers

Terrible new trend in kid-lit

I've been told I'm a kid-lit snob. 

Truth be told, I don't disagree. I am a kid-lit snob. And why not? When the majority of "conservative" and even "Christian" booklists contain the Wings of Fire series, a middle-grade collection that includes a large amount of crass and cruel language, gratuitous violence, the support of ungodly themes like post-birth abortion, racial injustice, and genocide, someone has to speak up. 

Did I mention that in Book 13 of that same series, the author introduces a sexual agenda that is contrary to Scripture? Well, it does.

As a member of several online author groups, I'm saddened to report that more and more middle-grade writers are being pressured by certain organizations to include specific political, social, or sexual agendas in the final books of their otherwise clean series in order to begin grooming children without parental knowledge. This means, that even the most conscientious parent might find their vetting efforts being thwarted when they approve a series after reading the first few books only to later discover that the subsequent books don't align with their values.

My kids deserve better. Your kids deserve better. All kids deserve better. 

boy reading Boy Giant

Not all new books are "bad"

Does this news mean that Christians should only let their kids read classics or "Christian" fiction? Nope. Classics don't appeal to all readers and to be honest, "Christian" fiction is often poorly written, feels moralistic, and rarely provides an accurate portrayal of real life.

One peek at my home library would prove that I intentionally seek out clean, contemporary novels to add to my shelves. 

"Why?" you ask. 
Well, my answer is three-fold:

As a Christian mom of tweens, teens, and now adults who are all avid readers, I have had to say NO on a lot of popular books over the years--books that would not hold up to the Biblical grid of Phil. 4:8. But here's a simple truth, all kids, mine included, are more apt to respect a NO when they see their parents using it prudently with care and consideration. If I hold a book like say Keeper of the Lost Cities--one that has recently garnered some criticism from a few popular Christian review sites who claimed that while it doesn't contain anything explicitly inappropriate but is just kind of on the "fluffy" side--to the same NO as a book with a premarital sex scene or one filled with F-bombs, then my NO quickly loses its relevance and value.

pulling a middle-grade fiction book off a home library shelf

Additionally, when my homeschooled kids are at Sunday school, sports practice, extended family gatherings, or fill-in-the-blank and all their peers begin talking about a popular movie or book, they can easily face a bit of outsider syndrome when everyone learns they've not seen or read said movie or book. While my child's popularity or lack thereof should never steer my parenting decisions, allowing them to read a clean, albeit "fluffy" book that seems to be on everyone else's shelf can be one simple way I can help them feel less "other" around their non-homeschooled peers.

Lastly, I'm a very well-read person, but even I enjoy a fluffy Rom-com now and then. In the same way that potato chips are ok to eat as long as you don't make a steady diet of them, I think a fluffy book can be a fun readerly treat. Why hold my kids to a higher standard than I hold myself? 

stack of contemporary middle-grade fiction books

My point: vetting books should be a high priority for every Christian parent. But in our efforts to hold high standards, let's not unintentionally teach our kids that fluff/fun is at best a waste of time and at worst a detraction from our faith. While classics and "Christian" fiction books can make great additions to the literary offerings of our homes, so can clean contemporary novels.

Biblio-files Community

Enter the Biblio-files

That's why I'm so passionate about curating quality book lists that Christian parents can trust--ones filled with a wide variety of books that are both clean and captivating.

 I'd love to share some titles with you in my Biblio-files.

As a member of the Biblio-files community, you'll receive a monthly age-appropriate booklist sent right to your inbox. You can choose between the following three reading lists:

  • Early Readers: these are lists of picture books, leveled readers, illustrated chapter books, and early novels for kids ages 4-8.
  • Middle-Grade Readers: these are lists of chapter books and popular series for kids ages 8-12
  • The Bundle: these are the Early Reader and Middle-grade lists compiled into one for kids ages 4-12 (Please note: If you order The Bundle, you do not need to order the Early Reader or Middle-Grade lists.)
From time to time, I include a "Parents, Be Aware" section at the end of each list which contains a title or two that I am neither endorsing nor cautioning parents away from. Every family will have different convictions about certain books based on their personal standards, the sensitivities of their child, and the depth in which controversial topics are discussed within the home. The information in this section is to help you be better informed about content and themes that may require extra consideration.

You'll also receive an age-appropriate themed book list each quarter. Lists include: 
  • my top picks for picture book biographies
  • American history leveled readers 
  • Civil War-themed middle grades
  • more books for kids who love Narnia
  • seasonal/holiday illustrated chapter books
  • middle-grades that make the best read-alouds
  • page-turning fiction for older tweens & young teens
  • series books that will keep your reluctant reader reading
In addition, you'll have access to our Facebook community where other like-minded parents just like you gather to crowd-source great book suggestions for their homes. We share book recs, warn others about books we've stumbled upon with obvious agendas, keep current on kid-lit trends, share tips and tricks for how to develop a vibrant reading culture in our homes, and even share what we're reading for our own personal enjoyment. 

We'd love to have you join us!


How often will I receive a list?

The monthly lists will hit your email inbox on the first of each month. Should you order a Biblio-files subscription on the second day of the month, you can immediately join the Facebook community, but expect to receive your first list the following 1st of the month. The quarterly themed lists come out every three months.

Are the lists printable?

The monthly lists are inserted directly into an email. The quarterly themed lists are delivered via a link to a google doc and are printable. Both lists are protected under all applicable international, federal, state, and local Copyright laws and are not to be redistributed or forwarded to others.

If I subscribe today will I have access to all the previous lists?

The lists are timed based on your subscription date. So, if you subscribe today, you'll receive Volume 1 on the first of the month. Next month, you'll receive Volume 2. In that way, every subscriber will gain access to every monthly list eventually. The quarterly themed printable lists are not timed and are sent out every three months. Once sent, they are unavailable. New subscribers will receive a different themed list at the next quarter.

Are the books on the list primarily Christian fiction?

While there may occasionally be a book on the monthly or quarterly lists that would be considered a Christian fiction and/or is published by a Christian author or publisher, the majority of the books included are traditionally published. They are all clean and captivating but do not contain explicitly Christian plots or themes. There is a place for Christian fiction/non-fiction book lists, however, most of these books are no-brainers for Christian families. The aim of the Biblio-files Community is to come alongside parents to help them navigate the average library or bookstore.

Do the lists feature any books that include magic?

Scripture makes it clear that God's people should not associate with diviners, sorcerers, witches, etc. However, there are many stories in the Bible that include all three. If you interpret the verses that exhort Christians to steer clear of these as meaning we aren't to even read about them, then you'd have to avoid reading God's Word. Instead, if you see the prohibition to be about the association with and affirmation of them, then you can read books like The Chronicles of Narnia and notice both the depraved nature of evil and the redemptive qualities of Christ-like characters (the "good guys"). With that in mind, the Biblio-files lists do feature titles that include magic but only ones that portray the witches and diviners as the "bad guys." Books, regardless of their magical elements should always paint evil as evil and righteousness as righteousness.

My list still has yet to arrive. Can you help?

If it's the first of the month and your list has yet to arrive, please check your spam folder. Be sure to add jamie@theunlikelyhomeschool.com to your email contacts. Please note: Hotmail email addresses tend to bounce the monthly emails back. If you have a hotmail address, please contact jamie@theunlikelyhomeschool.com for special help.

I'm an author/publisher. Can I partner with you for advertising?

You are welcome to send a physical copy of a book you'd like me to read for consideration. However, my acceptance of your mailed package does not guarantee I will review your book and/or endorse it. The Biblio-files does not accept advertising dollars or gratuities from authors or publishers.

Wanna win a year-long subscription to the Biblio-files?

Of course, you do! To celebrate the first anniversary of our community, I’m giving away four annual memberships—two here on the blog and two over on Instagram.

To enter here, leave a comment below telling me the title of the last book you enjoyed reading to or with your kids. Don’t forget to include your name. Then head on over to Instagram if you want for another chance to win!

No purchase necessary to win. Must be 18 years old or older to enter. A winner will be randomly selected and will be announced sometime after Friday, March 1st, 2024. The winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond. If an email address is not provided or the winner does not respond, the prize will be forfeited. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook.