How To Find Good Clean Books And Why It’s So Hard

I discovered some ways to find good, clean books— including Book Review Sites, Groups of Like-minded Readers, Apps, Booklists and Awards.  

But, before we dive into all that, why is it so hard to find good, clean books?

1. There’s no universal book rating system

Movies have them. Books don’t.   Apparently, there’s too many books published to make this possible and the American Library Association is opposed to it.  

Some bloggers have established their own rating systems, and rate and review books on their sites.  Of course, these systems are built on the philosophies of the reviewers, which may or may not align with yours. 

2. Everyone has a different definition of clean

Some readers don’t want profanity or sex scenes, others don’t want violence or triggers of abuse.  Even the word diversity can mean different things to different people.  So one person’s clean book might not be clean for someone else. 

3. The term book rating has two different meanings

Sites like Amazon have a 5 star product review rating system where consumers can vote on how well they like the product.  Of course, this includes books.  

Some book reviewers use book rating in the sense of judging whether or not it has offensive content.  

4. What’s your definition of good?

Is the book well-written?  Is it predictable?  Are the characters flat?  Is it excellent quality? 

An absence of profanity and sex doesn’t mean it’s a well-written story.  And therein lieth the rub.  How good is the book?

5. A book that is appropriate for adults might not be appropriate for young readers. 

And here we get into lots of gray areas.  What should 14 year olds be reading?  How about 11 year olds?  How about advanced readers who are only 8?  You see the problem.  

This is a judgment call.  Who’s going to make it?  The parents?  The schools and libraries?  The young person?  

The rest of this post is divided into finding good clean books for adults and finding good clean books for young people.  

How to Find Good Clean Books for Kids 

Books about Books

Three authors have published books with curated booklists on top of articulating a well-developed philosophy of reading to kids: Gladys Hunt, Jim Trelease and Sarah Mackenzie.

Pick up a copy of their books. I can recommend all three when searching for wholesome, well-written books for kids.   

Sonlight Curriculum

Sunlight homeschool curriculum puts out a highly curated list for their literature based education. 

Although I haven’t read every book on the list, I haven’t found one yet that I couldn’t wholeheartedly endorse.  

Besides carrying wholesome content, their picks show their high standards for good literature and high quality illustrations. 

Read Aloud Revival’s BookList

I personally love Sarah Mackenzie’s picks.  They’re almost always winners for me.   

Teach kids to be discerning readers 

Here’s a new thought:  teach kids to be aware of what they’re reading and make good decisions about what to read and what to avoid.  

Parents don’t always have time to preview everything their child is reading.  There’s too many books published every year for book review sites to keep up with everything. 

Kids need to be taught what their family values are and when a book is not aligned with them.  Obviously, this process will vary greatly depending on the age of the child and their relationship to their parents.  

Christian publishers are generally a safe bet for kids’ reading material

As a general rule, they don’t publish profanity or sex scenes.  So advanced readers who are reading adult fiction can head for the inspirational section with relative confidence.  

Zondervan, Baker, Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, Waterbrook, Revell and Tyndale are Christian publishers who are committed to putting out clean books.  

Of course, we’re back to the varying definition of clean, but the overall selection is going to be more trustworthy.   

How to Find Good Clean Books for Adults 

Check out my post How Do I Find Books I Like? Most of the ideas there will work if the books you like are good clean reads.

Check out the Christy Awards winners

If you’re worried about the quality of Christian fiction, consider the books in the genre that have received the Christy Award.

The award is named after Catherine Marshall’s classic, Christy, and is given to the books lauded as the best in the genre.

If you’re looking for a relatively short list this one should do the trick.

Take a Look at Barnes and Nobles’ Book Graph

B & N has innovated a new way to trace your read-likes in order to help you find your next favorite.

Start by clicking on a familiar title and follow the prompts. Check it out on the B & N website.

Join the Clean Reads Group on GoodReads

Aside from getting lots of ideas for your next great read, you can read reviews about the books that interest you. And you can interact with other readers– discuss and ask questions about particular books.

Consider a book app to help you in your search

Epic Reads by HarperCollins published a list of 6 of the best ones.

On that list of six, Litsy is one that is new to me. So is Serial Box. New ideas emerging for the changing way we interact with the world.


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