The Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series—now modern Christian YA classics—have sold more than two million copies between them, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl books have sold more than 600,000 copies since 2008, Slate.com reports.
Richard Paul Evans, author of novels for adults such as "The Christmas Box," has found big success in the YA market with his Michael Vey series. "Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25" reached number one on the "New York Times" best-seller list (teen fiction), Publishers Weekly states.
"It’s nice to see children enjoying literature with spiritual themes and to see publishers expanding this genre," says L.A. Miller, author of the science-fiction and fantasy YA book series Quests of Shadowind, which includes "Sky Shifter," "The Grounding Stone," and "Veil." "This literature can help teens to understand religious beliefs and the world in which they live."
Quests of Shadowind is the story of a group of teens who are abducted to an alien world called Shadowind, which is inhabited by ghostly creatures, cyborg animals, and virtual humans—a land where anything is possible, including being downloaded into a cryptic, evil role-playing game. In order to survive, the youths band together as they search for a way back home.
"Young-adult oriented stories can more easily hold a teen's attention," says L.A. Miller. "And that's perfect if your goal is to help kids learn values and concepts that might be difficult to understand."
Most Christian publishers have guidelines regarding the use of language, taboo words, and certain plot situations, and some have in-house theologians that vet content to make sure it adheres to Biblical principles, Slate.com reports.
"Christian young adult novels generally have clean language and are not preachy like many people think," say L.A. Miller. "Christian values are presented through themes, plots, and characters to which teens can relate. This way young readers don't feel like they're in school. Instead it gives them a wonderful opportunity to understand and get familiar with religion and religious values."
Through Christian YA novels teens can learn:
* Family values, particularly with a religious slant
* Morality as described in the Bible
* How to accept and offer forgiveness, which is crucial for maturing teens
* The importance of friendship, cooperation, and loyalty
* The merits of acceptance, kindness, and charity
* The importance of having faith and a spiritual life
* Hope, which is a necessary virtue in a world filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles
"It is important to build a spiritual foundation in teenagers and to instill and reinforce moral and social values," says Mr. Miller. "Through engaging, entertaining books that emphasize Christian themes, teens can more easily learn values and understand faith, which will help them to go through their lives as richer, stronger, wiser adults."
L.A. Miller has been writing for more than forty years. His backgrounds in science fiction, astronomy, technology, and classic literature inform his work, which has included novels, short stories, and music. He is the owner of Wood n Nails Music and lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with his wife and two dogs. He is the author of the Quests of Shadowind series, which includes "Sky Shifter," "The Grounding Stone,” and "Veil.”