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Appropriate Books For Tweens: Missing Nancy Drew

The other day, my 11-year-old daughter showed up in the kitchen with a confused look on her face. “Mom, um, there’s some stuff in this book that I don’t understand,” she said, holding out a novel she had borrowed from her school’s library.

As it turns out, the heroine in the novel was debating whether she should lose her virginity to her boyfriend.

I did a double take. Virginity? In a book from the elementary school library? Parents of tweens, take note. You might not like what your daughters are reading.

It’s called young-adult chick-lit, and it’s everywhere. Teenage girls all over are picking up these books. The plots in these novels typically revolve around all the things teenage girls worry about: school, friends, boys and, yes, sex.

Book cover: Nancy Drew mystery stories the secret of the old clock by carolyn keeneIt’s not that I object to sex in books for teenagers. In fact, when I was a teen, I happily (and secretly) read Judy Blume’s Forever, not to mention all my mother’s Judith Krantz novels. But I was old enough to handle those more racy novels.

What bothers me is that young adult chick lit is also widely read by tweens.

Isn’t 10, 11, and 12 just a bit too young to be worrying about virginity?

Granted, the book my daughter was reading (from Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series) was more G-rated than, say, the sex-crazed Gossip Girl. But she’s 11 years old. Why should she read about sex at all? Don’t these books send mixed messages to our young girls?

Perhaps I’m naive, but this feels like too much, too soon. My tween is not ready for her heroines to have a sex life. What happened to Nancy Drew, who was far more concerned about solving mysteries than losing her virginity? What happened to those kinds of heroines or those kinds of stories? We can wait for the Gossip Girls.

What do you think?

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.

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