5 Minutes for Books: Touched by a Vampire

by Jennifer Donovan

Last year when my daughter Amanda was in fifth grade –fifth grade– she insisted that all of her friends were reading the Twilight novels, and she wanted to read them. When I’m in doubt about whether or not a certain book’s content is appropriate for her, I often just read it myself so that I can decide. I have not read the Twilight Series , but I have talked to people who have.

She reads a lot, and by knowing what’s out there is one way I can guide her to appropriate books that she’ll love. In addition to reading books myself and talking to those who have read them, I love reading great blogs that give recommendations and plot summaries for children’s books and Young Adult novels (one of my favorites is Jen Robinson’s Book Page). 5 Minutes for Books also has a Kids’ Picks carnival the 3rd Tuesday of every month, which provides me with great recommendations from other kids Amanda’s age or who share her reading tastes.

So–back to the Twilight Series . I have just discovered a fantastic new resource dealing specifically with this hugely popular series for both teens and adults (and apparently every tween at my daughter’s school, except her).

touchedbyavampireTouched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga is a great book. It is a fantastic resource for moms who are either trying to decide whether or not to let their daughters read the books, or those who want to open up a meaningful discussion about the books. It would also be a great springboard to use so that you could discuss the issues that Bella’s, Edward’s and Jacob’s lives evoke with your own Twilight-obsessed grown-up friends.

Amanda is now in sixth grade and we’ve already had yet another chat about the books. “Everyone has read them, Mom. It’s fine if I read them. Really.” For now, my answer is still no. I thank Beth Felker Jones for writing Touched by a Vampire. She’s bolstered me in my decision, because now I realize that I’m not just protecting her from that romantic content that is beyond her maturity level, but I’m also protecting her from the view of love that Meyer paints.

But one thing that I’ve learned by reading some of her books alongside her, is that it’s a great way to open up discussions. If you want to discuss Twilight with your daughter (and perhaps a group of her friends), or if you to fully understand them before you let your daughter dive in, I can highly recommend Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga. I also now almost look forward to letting her read it in a few years when these issues will be relevant to her.

One can use the book two ways. There are discussion questions that address the themes of the books as a series — from beginning to end. Topics covered include:

  1. obsessive love
  2. abusive love
  3. sexual purity
  4. marriage and motherhood

There are also about 10 questions on each of the books at the very end of the book that you could use as a discussion guide as you read each book, but I think that the topical chapter entries are much more relevant and powerful in looking at the series as a whole.

This book is written within the context of a Christian worldview, and Beth Felker Jones does share some scriptures and some Christian viewpoints about love and marriage, purpose etc. However I would think that any mother could use the thoughts and questions about the portrayal of love to open up a meaningful discussion with her teenage daughter, regardless of religious faith.

You can read an excerpt at the publisher, Waterbrook/Multnomah’s site.

If you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment telling us your experience with the Twilight series. Are you an adult who loves it? Has your teen read them? Your comment is your entry. We’ll announce the winners in next week’s 5 Minutes for Books column.

The very lucky winners of Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn are:
#31 Jen
#61 Marj M. (@yahoo)
#83 Marine Corps Nomad
#87 LBynum (@yahoo)
#89 Brenda Rupp


Contributing editor Jennifer Donovan manages 5 Minutes for Books and contributes to 5 Minutes for Giveaways. She blogs at Snapshot.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tyra Whitlow October 12, 2009 at 1:10 am

I haven’t read the books or watched the movie myself since I’m just not really into the whole vampire thing and seeing the preview caused me to not really have any desire to change that. But I do know some people who have watched it and even some who are a little obsessed by it so I think it’d be interesting to know what to say to them beyond ‘I’m just not interested’. And while my kids are only 6 and 4 right now, I’m sure that eventually they’ll question wanting to read or see this kind of stuff too so I think having this book would be great!

Thanks. :-)

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2 Thena October 12, 2009 at 8:00 am

I haven’t read any of the books. My 18 year old son, 25 year old daughter and my eleven going on twenty year old step-daughter has read all of them. I watched the most recent movie with my daughter. I liked it, I’m not counting the days until the next one obsessively or anything. But I will probably go see it with my daughters.

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3 corinne October 12, 2009 at 10:15 am

Thanks for the tip on this resource. I’d love to read it and use with my 11-year old when she is old enough for me to let her read the series!

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4 Laura October 12, 2009 at 11:41 am

My daughter is 12.5 and I’ve not let her read the series or watch the movies either for similar reasons. Thanks for telling us about this book.

Laura

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5 Amy October 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I’ve read the books, most of my friends have read the books, my mother has read the books… I saw the first movie and am REALLY, REALLY excited for the second movie… and I am really interested in “Touched by a Vampire.” I hadn’t heard of it until reading this, but it sounds fascinating and I think it would make for great discussion topics with the rest of the people I know who LOVE the Twilight Saga. :-) Thanks for sharing!

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6 Holly October 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I have read the books and seen the movie, but I am not enamored with them, as so many are (I’m in my late 20s and my friends are as silly about them as teenagers!)

I am very interested in this book because I work with the teenagers at my church and lead a weekly discussion group for high school girls. I think it would be very interesting to talk to them about this stuff, especially with the upcoming movie.

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7 Benita G . October 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I haven’t read the series, but I’d love to, and then I’d love to pass them on to my friend’s daughter.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

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8 Jen October 12, 2009 at 3:27 pm

I have read the books and seen the movie, and am grateful my kids are 5 and 3 and I don’t have to decide this kind of stuff yet. I’ve worked for the past several years with the youth of my church and can see how obsessed some of the girls are with the books and why parents would be worried. I’m glad there are good resources like this to help parents out.

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9 maria October 12, 2009 at 4:23 pm

read the books and loved the books….i let my daughter 9 watch the first movie. I thought the movie was kinda cheesy, but am still looking forward to new moon!!

Would love to give this book a shot as well!

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10 Laurie October 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm

My older teen read the series. She bought her own copy without my advice. I decided to read them so we could discuss them together. I was not happy these books, with very adult situations, had been marketed to the younger teens. They don’t coincide with the values I try to instill in my children. My 15 year old won’t be reading them any time soon. Thank goodness she has no interest and saves us the argument. I would love to read this book to see if we are on the same page. :o)

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11 edj October 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm

OH I want this one! Like your daughter, mine claimed that everyone had read them (they’re in French too, you know). I wanted her to wait and had no problem making her, but then we were stuck somewhere this summer and she had absolutely nothing else to read and they were there…so I broke down and let her. I haven’t read them myself yet, but this review convinces me I need to! Also, I want this book :)

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12 Karen October 12, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I have read the books and so has my 13 year old daughter. Would love to have this book

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13 Sarah at themommylogues October 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I’m an adult who loves the series. I’m not sure there’s an age that would be best to wait until, it’s probably different for every girl. But I do recommend reading them before she does, because you could have some great discussions. My girls are 6 & 4, so I haven’t needed to decide yet either.

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14 Staci A October 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I have yet to read the series, but my sil is in love with it, and passed that onto my niece. I’d love to read this as a way to help me talk to her, because though I can’t help what she’s exposed too, and I can help her understand it. Thanks for the chance!

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15 Angie October 12, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I haven’t read the series yet but I do own it! I’m too busy to read anymore!

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16 TulipGirl October 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm

“Touched by a Vampire” is SO much more than I thought a book like that would be. It’s written conversationally, but the themes in it run deep. I’m so glad you reviewed it and are giving it away! (Pls. don’t count this as an entry — I already have my copy!) I just want to encourage more people to read this great resource.

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17 Claudia October 12, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Okay, I have to say, that I will not be reading this book. Their is nothing wrong with them and compared to most young adult books, they are VERY mild. I would let a ten year old read them. I am a christian, and the way I see it, is very appropriate, and is the way it should be. And really, when they say everyone they know has read them, they are telling the truth. And in my opinion, if you dont let them read The Twilight Saga, if you shelter them that much, you may have a problem. :(
And I dont want to offend anyone… But really you have to read the actual books, and not just this book, to tell if it will be appropriate.

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18 Ross October 13, 2009 at 4:22 am

I haven’t read the twilight series yet, but plan to before my daughters start asking. I have however recently come across a new children’s author you may like to try. Ashley Howland’s first children’s novel is Ghostnapped, it’s well worth a read and can be found at:
http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/Ghostnapped.html

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19 angie October 13, 2009 at 8:28 am

my daughter and son have both read the books my son is now using this to pick up girls because they think it is so cool that he read the twilight series and ask him about it all the time
shopannies@Yahoo.com

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20 Angel B October 13, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I have read the whole saga and absolutely love them. I do not have any daughters this age, but I am a fourth grade teacher. A lot of my girls started wanting to read them last year. I strongly advised against this. They are ten years old!! No, the first few books are not “explicit,” but it is just too heavy for girls this age! Not to mention that Bella is not always the world’s best role model for young girls who do not know any better. And besides, the last book does get a little graphic. It’s tasteful, but definitely not something I want my daughter reading until she is at least 15 or 16 and I know she can handle it.

But as a Twilight fan, I would love to read this book! I am definitely putting it on my list!

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21 Cindy B. in Montana October 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I’m a 50+. Hubby and I saw Twilight. I hadn’t even heard of the series till the movie came out and all the hoopla started. We both thought the movie was cheesy, but I like the story. My step-daughter is a huge Twilight fan and she convinced me to read the books. I’m just finishing up Eclipse. I do like the books and enjoy the story line, but I’m definitely not addicted. I can put the book down to get things done :)

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22 Thomas October 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I’m probably the only guy writing on this. Oh well. I had Dr. Jones as a theology professor in college. She’s a great teacher, and I’m going to say this book is a must-read for any parent with tween/teen girls familiar with the Twilight series. She always has a way of presenting with clarity and wisdom that is totally admirable.

Thanks for your contribution to the Twilight discussion, Dr. Jones!

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23 john pratt October 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

i haven’t read the book but would love to. please include me for the chance to win the book.

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24 Marj M. October 14, 2009 at 12:50 am

I have never seen this TV series. (we have had no reception for going on 6 yrs. and do not miss it.) I have a 14 year old grand daughter, on the other hand, who watches this show with her mom. I know they would both enjoy the book. (After I read it too)

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25 TulipGirl October 14, 2009 at 1:20 am

Quote: “Okay, I have to say, that I will not be reading this book. Their is nothing wrong with them…”

I’d encourage you to reconsider reading “Touched…” While it does critique some of the themes in the Twilight saga, it isn’t “anti-Twilight.”

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26 Margaret October 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

I have read all of the Twilight books and I enjoyed them, but there is no way I would let a young child read them, or see the movies. I have Beth’s book on my to read list because I’m really interested in what she has to say about the series!

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27 Rachael October 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I am a Christian, 29, who loves the series. I only have an infant son, but I would let my teenage daughter read them. I have the perspective to see that this is FICTION, therefore, not real. So should I have a daughter who is interested, I would most certainly have that discussion with her especially about they obsessive love themes. I am interested in this book and will read it.

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28 missy crace October 19, 2009 at 11:53 am

following

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29 Crystal October 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I am a married woman in my twenties with a 2 year old child. I have just recently became interested in the Twilight saga and I LOVE it!! I read through the whole series in 2 weeks and I’m not a reader, and I have seen the movie SEVERAL times, as I have tickets for the midnight showing of New Moon. I don’t see where their is ANYTHING wrong with this series. People need to realize and remember that this is just fiction!! It is crazy that people have made this out to be some “evil” movie when it is basically a new age Romeo & Juliet. I mean, you don’t hear this big uproar over such popular movies that have drugs, sex, & adultry but let a teenage girl fall in love with a vampire and obstain from having sex while having a werewolf as her best friend and people go CRAZY!!

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30 Adri October 22, 2009 at 8:45 pm

A friend gave me copy of the first book an I was presently surprised at how much I liked it. Vampires and romance aren’t usually what I like. I’ve since enjoyed the other books ad the 1st movie. Some points reminded me of the Christian walk, sacrificial, people thinking they are unlovable etc. Unfortanetly Twilight isn’t the book for a Christian book club so, it’s hard to tell what hearkens to real Christian values and what is just wishful thinking.

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31 Lindsey October 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I have to say first that I do agree with a parent wanting to check on the books that their child reads. But, these books are relatively mild. There are romantic elements within it. But these elements are related to the elements of abstinence (Edward and Bella) and close friends (Bella and Jacob). I think that you should read the books first before you pass a final judgement on it. My mother did the same thing when I was younger and wanted to read a new book so I absolutely understand. But I am now 19 years old and I absolutely love this series. I am a college student who loves to read and if I have a free moment these are the first books I pick up to read for my free time.

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32 Carmen November 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I’m a 15 year old and I was in love with this book series. The moives ruined the books for me. My 10 year old brother has read Twilight thanks to my mom buying him a copy because I refused to let him read my copy because he is too young to read this series. With everything that goes on in the books as a whole I don’t think you should read them until you are at least in 7th grade. I know that alomst everyone has read this series at my school though. If you are looking for good books for pre-teens to read then I suggest The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson or Maximum Ride, perhaps Vampire Kisses but I would say it depends on the parent. God bless and happy readings.

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