In Such a Time as This

March 20, 2020

Recent events have changed life as we know it. Few were prepared for quarantines, job losses, school closings, store shortages, limited assemblage, etc., and the fears of either contaminating someone else, unknowingly, or being contaminated personally.

I have hesitated to write this blog, because, to some, this may sound trivial in the scope of all that we are facing. However, I realize that there are many parents with school age children at home, and regardless of all that is going on around them, they still have to maintain their homes and care for their children each day. For some parents who have children home from school for the first time, this requires keeping on top of any school work assigned by their teachers.

With most classes and activities shut down, the children will have more time on their hands. If your children are readers, they will have time to read more. If they have a library card, there are many books available as downloads or audio versions of the books. All they do is enter their library card number and the book magically appears on their device. Other venues are Kindle Unimited or Scribd subscriptions.

The Library Card holders in my section of West Virginia can access e-books via WV READS. Instantly, the kids can download and start reading Sex: A Book for Teens, by Nikol Hasler. (both the original version and the updated one called Sex: An Uncensored Introduction.)


In this book, the kids can learn how to obtain and care for sex toys, how to fist—gently of course—both anally and vaginally, the best type of rope to use when tying up your partner during sex, fetishes and kinks, and all things Hasler believes your kids ought to know.

Listed in the book as one of the “Websites You Should Know” is the Midwest Teen Sex Show. This web address is no longer the address of the Midwest Teen Sex Show episodes. However, many of the episodes, including the one on birth control, are available on YouTube.

The Midwest Teen Sex Show web address is listed in both the old and the new versions of Hasler’s book even though the show ended in 2010. The updated book was published in 2015. When you open that link now, it opens to “Teen Sex Show.” The child can click the translate button (it’s not written in English) and read such things as:

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of reasons to have sex more often. In addition to being pleasant, this can help you improve your health, and that is that during sex muscle movements are worked, the skin is oxygenated, calories are burned, we increase our self-esteem and the mind clears.

Keep in mind that this site is written for teens. The teen can also read “WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY?”

Please note that in the downloadable versions of this book, the web address is hyperlinked. That means that the child just clicks on those hyperlinked words and arrives at that website.

It is quite curious that the updated version of Hasler’s book wasn’t published until 2015, and yet, the Midwest Teen Sex Show web address is still listed as the first “Websites You Should Know.” Why wasn’t that removed—or if Hasler was still so proud of the episodes, why didn’t she list the true websites where the episodes can currently be found? Who is responsible for this new website with the same address as Midwest Teen Sex Show?

There is much that could be addressed about this book, but that isn’t the focus of this blog today. What other books may your children download on their time off from school?

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan (an editor at Scholastic) and Rachel Cohn is available in both ebook and audio book form. Now the children can hear the 275+ f-words and other profanities, rather than just read them silently.

How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity, is another WV READS offering. The front book flap describes this as:

Poised between the past and the future are the stories of now. In nontraditional narratives, short stories, and brief graphics, tales of anticipation and regret, eagerness and confusion present distinctively modern views of love, sexuality, and gender identification. Together, they reflect the vibrant possibilities available for young people learning to love others-and themselves-in today's multifaceted and quickly changing world.

The book is edited by Michael Cart. The Harper Collins Publishers website describes Cart as “a nationally recognized expert in YA literature. . . . and a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association.” Twelve authors have contributed their stories to this book. One of those stories--"First Time" is written by a popular young adult author named Julie Anne Peters. The School Library Journal (SLJ) describes:

Julie Anne Peters skillfully voices two teen girls' trepidation and ecstasy during their first sexual encounter.

Peters’ contribution to this book, “First Time,” was beyond explicit. Even the feel, smell, and taste was described as, “gooey. The smell is strong. Not gross, the way I feared. It smells natural. I want to stay and taste her more . . .” (p.203)

Really? Is this what you expect from a book marketed to your teen?

How Beautiful the Ordinary is a HarperTeen book from 2009. My copy includes a donation sticker from a PFLAG chapter.

The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner, is another available WV READS download. Dill’s father in The Serpent King is a Pentecostal Preacher who not only leads a congregation of rattlesnake and copperhead snake handlers, but also drinks poison in his church services. His congregation rests on Mark 16:18, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” There is more to this story, however:

Everyone assumed he’d get in trouble someday for the twenty-seven or so rattlesnakes and copperheads his congregants passed around each Sunday. No one knew with certainty what law they were breaking, but it seemed unlawful somehow. And the Tennessee Department of Wildlife did take custody of the snakes after his arrest. Or people thought perhaps he’d run afoul of the law by inducing his flock to drink diluted battery acid and strychnine, another favored worship activity. But no, he went to Riverbend Prison for a different sort of poison: possession of more than one hundred images depicting a minor engaged in sexual activity.  (pages 6-7)

How about Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers? In this story, Jasper’s father is the most notorious serial killer in the world. Now his father is in jail, but another serial killer is on the loose. The type of violence depicted in this book is not soon forgotten.

Boy Toy is a book about a teacher grooming and sexually abusing her seventh grade student.

Almost Perfect, by Brian Katcher, is about a transgender girl. This book even describes how this transgender purchased the hormones.

“Sage, how did you . . . develop like that?”
. . . Then she pulled a small pill bottle out of a drawer…and set it on the desk next to me.  “I take synthetic estrogen.  Hormones, Logan.”
. . . “Like medicine? You actually grew those things?”
. . . “I started when I was fourteen. It took a few years, but I’m happy with the results . . .
“I always thought you just wore a padded bra or something.” Men didn’t have breasts, not in my experience.
“You never wondered why I don’t have a beard? You never noticed how soft my skin is?”. . .
Of course I noticed, but I just thought you were girly. I guess I never knew you could change someone’s body like that.”

. . . Pills could turn a guy into a chick?
. . . “Only if you start before puberty’s over. That’s another reason I transitioned early. If you started taking hormones now, you wouldn’t get nearly the results. Your breasts would stay small and pointy, and you wouldn’t lose your facial hair. Your, ah, other parts wouldn’t wither up as much, either. (pages 205-206)

Looking for Alaska, by John Green, is available as an ebook, an audio book, and the new deluxe edition ebook. Here the teens (or younger readers) can learn the mechanics of oral sex, among other things.

Tap Out, by Eric Devine, is also available, but not as an audio book. As an e-book, the teens can only read the nearly 900 f-words; they will be spared from hearing them.

George, by Alex Gino, is available for middle graders. Of course “George” is “Melissa” by the end of this one.

This is just a smattering of the downloadable books available to the patrons in my section of the state. Do you know what e-books are available from your local library? What are your children reading? Sometimes you have to peek Between the Covers, even if the books are digital downloads.









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