Here lately I’ve come across a few YA books that contained some content I thought might be inappropriate for young readers. With an eleven year old advanced reader, I’m reading more YA to be sure that the books are appropriate beforehand. YA can be directed at ages twelve on up to twenty-five which we all know is a broad range. Many of these books don’t come with an age rating at all, and online research is needed or the book must be screened beforehand.
Our library has become so strict with what children are able to check out. If they attempt to checkout an R-rated movie and they are under the age of eighteen, the computer will alert the library clerk and the movie will be put back on the shelf. However, they can check out any book they want. If a teen wants to buy a mature video game at Wal-Mart, the parent has to to buy it because they won’t allow him to.
The problem with books is that many parents don’t have time to read and screen books before their kids read them. I’m sure plenty of parents don’t even like to read or just don’t feel the need to. Reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Now, I’ve read YA books that are perfect for my eleven-year-old and others that I’d never want her to read before she’s upper high school level. How wonderful it would be to open a book and read a short rating that stated: Strong use of language, sexual situations, suicide, incest. Then, you’d know right away whether a book is appropriate. Would that be too much of a spoiler? Maybe…
Earlier this year I read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. I made the mistake of recommending the book to a few friends on GR. Needless to say, I lost a few friends over it and all because of the content. They told me that they never would’ve read the book had they known that a thirteen-year-old was having a sexual relationship with a young adult. They felt that the author was promoting this behavior and that it was child abuse. I didn’t feel that way, but it was at that moment that I realized people are sensitive to different things. What was I thinking when I recommended that book? I mean, it’s just a book, right? My thoughts were on the fact that Wavy–at thirteen–was not like most other thirteen-year-olds, and that somehow that made the relationship okay. Others would say no…without a doubt…its wrong. It’s true that teens all have different maturity levels and can’t be pigeonholed, like in Wavy’s case. So saying that a book is for ages thirteen and up might not work for everyone.
I’ve also noticed that there are people who won’t read a book if it involves rape. Some people have triggers, and I’m talking about adult readers here. How would they feel about their kids reading books involving sexual situations, promiscuity, drug use, and sexual abuse when they don’t even like reading them?
I’m getting off the YA topic here, but we as parents raise our children differently and I was thinking that ratings on YA books might be helpful to many. I personally would just like to see a short warning that stated the content where applicable–at least with YA. Like watching a movie trailer, the rating is exposed before the movie is even released. I’m not in any way claiming that the book’s content should be changed or stating that the content is bad, only that maybe it would be beneficial to have a short statement if the book contains controversial content for young readers.
- Should books be excluded from this rating system?
- Do you think that some YA books need adult guidance due to the subject matter?
- Would this hurt YA book sales?
- Do you think it would help parents and teachers?
- Personally, would it even make a difference to you?
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.