Recommended Reading


Compiled by Debra Weistar

For children between the ages of 9 and 12, inspiration is of utmost importance. Inspirational
stories–whether they be of the birth/death/rebirth cycle, of a spiritual nature, myths, or simply
about the human challenge of facing adversity–are essential for the development of deep
feeling. Connection to others, one’s place in community, facing death and the yearning for
transcendent possibilities are central concerns of this age. Through story, inspiration moves us.
Sharing such stories aloud is real life inspiration and connection. Use feeling words and your
own emotions to talk with your child about aspects of the unfolding story.

All of the titles on this list come highly recommended, but unfortunately many of these titles are
long out of print. You can order out of print books through quite easily and
inexpensively. Often amazon will have on-line reviews so you can find out what the books are
about, as this is solely a list.

Two excellent teacher’s resources are A Call To Character by Colin Greer and Herbert Kohl,
editors, and Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart: parables of the spiritual path from around
the world edited by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield. Both are excellent sources of short
stories and poetry. A Call To Character is full of great excerpts from full length books and as
such is useful on its own, as well as a resource for more titles.

Download Book List


Compiled by Debra Weistar

Literature and film are excellent mediums to explore and share feelings and ideals with your
teen. Listed here are stories that center on issues of freedom, power, romance, death,
relationship, culture, justice and truth. The characters in many of these stories are faced with
difficult decisions and challenging circumstances. They don’t always know what to do or what
the right thing to do is. Through struggle, they find within themselves the strength to live their
lives fully and overcome the difficulties they encounter.

Young people in the teen years are concerned with issues of freedom, power, identity and
individuality. Sexuality and romance are extremely important. Exploring shadow issues such as
violence and anger (to name just two) is endlessly fascinating. The medium of film itself is
especially suited to this age.

We recommend that you watch these titles (and other movies) with your teen. It may feel a little
awkward at first, but you can use the movie to springboard into a discussion that can lead to
authentic communication. Staying open and non-judgmental is key. Ask open questions—of
your child and yourself. What would you do if faced with a similar circumstance? Have you ever
felt as the character did when ______? Do you think the character did the right thing? What tells
you s/he did the right thing? The topics and situations that some of the titles on this list explore
can be very controversial. Some depict a high level of violence. We do not endorse indulging in
the violence, but invite you to explore difficult topics with your children as a means to better
understand and know each other.

At this time, these lists are simply lists—no reviews or specific guidelines are included. They are
not put into categories or any particular order. We suggest you purchase a video guidebook that
will help you get a better idea of the movie and what to expect. It’s also a great way to discover
new titles. Peruse the guidebook, make a list of interesting titles, then go to the video store
prepared, with list in hand.

We are always surprised by how few of the movies listed here are ones today’s teens have seen
or even heard of. In the rush to see the latest popular film, or listen to the latest popular music, it
seems that those that came earlier (and in this case we are talking only a few years) are
forgotten. These now lesser-known titles are a treasure and can be a doorway into a whole new
world of exploring human values, diversity, struggles, lifestyles and choices.

As for the books, unfortunately many young people’s books go out of print almost as fast as they
are printed. If your library doesn’t have some of these titles, try used bookstores.

The important thing is simply to start, whether with books or movies, and find that common
place where minds can meet, discovery can happen and the parent/child relationship can grow.

Download Book & Movie List