Booking Through Thursday: Age-Inappropriate

In contrast to last week’s question–What do you think of censoring books BECAUSE of their intended age? Say, books too “old” for your kids to read?

My kids? Let’s go with my brother’s hypothetical children, since they will actually exist. Ahem.

Now, I can see some good in censoring books with explicit sexual conduct and explicit violence, but I think censoring is too strong a word. A rating system similar to the MPAA’s rating systems for films (which is still borked, according to This Film is Not Yet Rated) would be more fair; I remember, as a wee lass, that FanFiction.Net has a rating system in place. Look, bookish kids are going to read whatever they want—I read American Gods at the tender age of thirteen, and Patton Oswalt discusses in Zombie Spaceship Wasteland how his parents actually bought him, unknowingly, remarkably explicitly sexual and violent speculative fiction novels aimed at adults and not children or young adults. Censoring is ultimately going to be an empty gesture for these kids, but some people do think twice about picking something up with a lot of gore, and such a rating system wouldn’t hurt, especially given what we have now.

12 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Age-Inappropriate

  1. The great thing about books is that, no matter how much things change in the media landscape, they always seem to be our last, best bastion against censorship. Like many avid readers, I read a lot of sexually explicit stuff as a kid, and to a large extent my mom had no idea. But the funny thing was, even to the extent that she did know, it didn’t bother her nearly as much as seeing a boob on the TV screen.

    Which is funny, because I learned a lot more about sex from books than I did from seeing boobs on TV. 😛 But that’s just one more reason books are awesome.

  2. Interesting, I think you are right. Most kids are going to read what they want anyway. I know though that I have to be careful when picking out books for my nieces. Mainly because they don’t like anything too scary.

  3. I like the idea of informing kids about the kind of content….on the other hand, I enjoyed a lot of freedom of choice in what I read. Not because my parents were so savvy, but because they really didn’t pay much attention to what I was doing, unless I hadn’t finished my chores! So I read widely….


  4. Can I just give you a hell-to-the-ya high five? Seriously. I teach middle school and my bookshelves are rarely censored. The readers are going to find those books regardless. The non readers and gonna head for my graphics and manga section. ‘Nuff said.

    I was reading Skeleton Crew by Stephen King in 3rd grade. My teacher sent home this awful note to my mother along the lines of DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DAUGHTER IS READING?!?

    Being the righteous mom that she is, she responded with: DO YOU KNOW WHAT GRADE LEVEL SHE’S READING ON?!

  5. If I had kids, I’d be less inclined to say, You can’t read this, you’re too young; and more inclined to say, I don’t think you’ll like it, try it in a few years. That was what my parents did — they weren’t so worried about exposing us to bad stuff in books, but they didn’t want us to end up hating awesome books (like The Color Purple) because we tried to read them too young.

  6. As with tv, I think with books, parents should be aware of what their kids are reading and they should do so actively. They could either read the book themselves or they could read reviews. If parents are active, there shouldn’t be a need for a rating system!

  7. I read such inappropriate books when I was a kid! But I also think it’s true that kids will self-censor, to a point. If it makes them uncomfortable they will stop reading. Now, I did do that. But at the same time, I still read books that I would never give a kid.

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