Should YA Books Have Parental Ratings?

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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.

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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, Β 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?

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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.

Continue for my questions…

My questions:

  • 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.

85 thoughts on “Should YA Books Have Parental Ratings?

  1. I’m going to give you an anecdote, then I’m going to opine. When I was 12, Judy Blume (my fave author at the time) wrote a book called Forever. My mother, and my friends mothers, all told us not to read it. Guess what we did? We all read it. I don’t love a lot of ya topics, but like it or not, this is what the kids want to read. I’ve never censored what my daughter read. But, I would read a pretty thorough synopsis and discuss the book and it’s ideals. It’s actually given us valid talking points about human behavior and what constitutes morality and what constitutes acceptable behavior. We’ll talk about how human emotion enters situations, and we talk about other things the characters could do or say. Censoring books is a delicate topic, because do you really want a rubric to determine what is acceptable and what is not?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks for sharing that. I think one of my thoughts was that some of these books are coming with zero parental guidance or adult counseling because the adults don’t know what’s in them.

      I have that book in my basement. I’ll read it soon… β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m just not sure about how you actually determine suitability. Realistically, one of my favorite books when I was younger was A tree grows in Brooklyn. But if you were rating that on a rubric…..it has death, alcoholism, poverty, bigotry, and a few creepy characters. It’s a tough call. Now, that being said, I don’t want my 11 year old reading fear of flying…….

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I suppose it’s how it’s presented. So, a recent book I read which was listed for 10th grade and up had content regarding sexual abuse, including incest. Also young adults talking about doing drugs and enjoying it. For me, I didn’t think it was horrible, but wouldn’t want my oldest daughter reading that yet. There’s no way I can screen every book either. I’d never get any of my own reading done! Lol. πŸ˜‰

          I found a website or two online which offer content ratings, but it’s limited. Censoring is a strong word, but I like to think of it as more of an “awareness.” Not saying that something is necessarily bad, but just to know that it’s there to help with decision making.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. The problem is that it becomes an issue of tone, and if the author is intending to be salacious. Like the pbs version of something, or the kardashian version. That’s where ratings are hard. The pbs version might technically be “racier” but it’s done in a better manner. It’s a tough call

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  2. Nel

    I just recently read an article about how certain books should contain trigger warning especially in the erotica genre cause there’s a lot of BDSM going on thats borderline depending on the reader. I personally don’t think it’s a bad idea. They already rate the grade level that kids should read them so an extra rating would be helpful. Not to play devil’s advocate but I’ve read other articles that state that “life doesn’t come with trigger warnings so why should books?” That’s true in a sense but it’s also very harsh. If someone could be prepared as much as possible for a potential bad situation, I think any of us would choose to want the warning. But then the other aspect is you don’t want individuals to be completely buffered by what’s going on in the world either.
    I guess it can go both ways but it all depends on each individual. I think it’s a good idea that you read the books before your children do so because even if it’s required reading, you can explain to them what’s right and what’s wrong and how situations in the real world are handled. (Sorry this is so long! I can talk a mile)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nel, you always have such excellent thoughts. YA doesn’t give a grade level, but a few of them do have ages, right? I’ve seen some say 14+, but I wish they all did. I recently read a book and reviewed it stating that the reading level was 12. A person came back all mad and stated that the book listed 14+, but that rating was from the publisher regarding the “interest level.” I thought that was interesting and also confusing!

      It’s so true! Life doesn’t come with trigger warnings. I guess it all comes down to what you want your kid to know and at what age. Everyone’s different. Thanks so much for sharing, Nel. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. This is one reason my book is categorized as new adult instead of young adult. It has premarital sex in it and I was afraid of how that would be taken for a less mature audience.
    It isn’t erotica. I personally wouldn’t mind my 16 year old reading it, but I know some people would consider it not good for under 18. Which in many cases, age doesn’t matter, the maturity levels of some 16 years olds are greater than that of some 25 year olds.
    I think ratings would be a good idea. But I think no matter what, someone will be offended. Like you said, something’s are considered sensitive to some people that wouldn’t bother others.
    And I firmly believe that books need to advise if there is rape, child abuse, and other triggers in them.

    Thanks for this post. I think more people need to talk about it and consider rating books like they do movies and video games. I know it would be tricky in some cases, but I still think it would be a good idea.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Angie. Maturity levels are so different, I agree. I don’t like the idea of censoring as I think many people view that in a negative way and surely some people will be offended, but how else can we know what’s in the book if we don’t read it ourselves? It’s no different with music lyrics and the warnings are right there on the front cover.

      Thanks so much for your opinions on this and for reblogging! I appreciate it so much. πŸ™‚ β™‘ I’ll definetely be reading your book and thanks for bringing it to my attention!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know. It’s tough. You need a warning, but then there are down sides to warnings. We’re just kinda stuck.

        You’re welcome. And thank you. I hope you enjoy it.
        Just a note, Roadside is “cleaner” than Mackenzie’s Distraction. Neither are erotica, but Mackenzie’s Distraction does have premarital sex.

        Thanks. Hope you have a great day.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Great post Jen!! I’ve recently noticed more authors using the category Mature Young Adult. I think this is good, but still like it has been said each child is at a different maturity level, even though they’re the same age. And I still think that books need to advise if there is rape, child abuse, and other such triggers in them. Even though, as was said, you can’t live in a world of bubble wrap, you will run in to those triggers in this world anyway. Better to seek ways of dealing with how to handle the triggers when you come upon them. But that’s a whole other subject.

      Thank you for this post Jen, it is much needed and very appreciated!!😊

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Donna! I think the MYA is an excellent idea. A simple sentence stating the content where applicable would work for me. A few say they’re against it.

        I agree. What Nel mentioned as well is so true, that life doesn’t come with trigger warnings, but when it comes to screening for younger kids, I still think the label would be great. It’s better than having to read every book before I allow my daughter to read it. I love a good YA book with some romance myself, but you and I both know that some of the YA sexual content is distasteful and would be better handled at an older age. I don’t want to say that it’s bad, but better for an older audience.

        Anyway, I really appreciate your thoughts on the matter, Donna! Thank you so much for sgaring.β™‘ πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that is a smart idea. One of the many reasons adults enjoy YA so much is because we can enjoy the mature content and understand it far better than we could have a a teen. I wouldn’t want my daughter getting her hands in a lot of the stuff we read! Can you imagine a 10 or 11 yr old reading The Hunger Games? Of course they do but it’s definitely not appropriate.

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  5. Very interesting post and discussion topic. As someone that was reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Go Ask Alice, etc. as early as second grade, I feel that censorship (because ultimately that’s what a “justified rating system” will devolve to) is never the answer. I believe, as stated in the first comment, that it’s only required if you’re not taking the quality time to sit down with your kids and discuss what’s going on in their lives. What are they watching? What are they reading? What’s going on in school? They all correlate and as long as they’re given guidance they’ll know how to use the information they’ve acquired responsibly. Especially because, as we all know from our own teen years we’re going to do what we want to do despite parental warnings/labels. I think responsible exposure can be a good thing. Often I felt I knew how to handle situations better because I’d already seen how someone faced it in a story, but that’s just me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Movies, games, and music are censored, I guess I don’t view that in a negative way. I do appreciate it with music especially, because I won’t be popping in a CD in my car that has explicit lyrics if my young ones are with me. It’s nice to know ahead of time.

      I think it’s a challenge guiding and supporting when you don’t know what’s in the book as it is. Will the child come and say, “what does this mean?” or “I don’t understand this.” Maybe they might ask a friend and be completely misguided. You’re right in that there isn’t much control, but I guess I’m one of those parents who expect a little control at least when kids are at a vulnerable age.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I appreciate it. πŸ™‚ β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I apologize if I came off as offensive that was never my intention. I just think sometimes it can cause more harm than good. I have so many friends that ended up in taboo situations because they’d never been exposed to it, never had candid conversations with their parents/someone that wouldn’t mislead them. That’s what I meant when I mentioned quality time and being active in their lives. If you’ve established an open relationship with your children they will both come to when they have questions on tough topics/you’ll already be aware what they’re facing. And if you’ve taken the time to even consider this, yet alone write an eloquent post about it, I’m sure you have that relationship with your little ones. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, no offense at all! I totally appreciate your comments and don’t disagree. I totally understand where you’re coming from and I don’t deny that they need to be prepared for these topics, its just at eleven it seems too young for some of it. I just thought maybe it would be easier to be prepared and know ahead of time. I find everyone’s points valid and appreciate yours. Thanks. πŸ™‚

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        2. Oh good! I know sometimes tone can go wrong so quickly when it’s just text so I wanted to clear the air just in case! I understand your concerns and think instead of rating system having a brief blurb about what triggers/issues are highlighted throughout the book (as you mentioned in another comment) could be beneficial. Again great post. It’s clearly gotten the community involved!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post. Tough questions. Not being a parent, mine is probably a different perspective. I’ve always believed it’s better to share information with the proper context than to hide it. As a child, when someone said not to do something, there was immediate curiosity. I usually still avoided it, but it takes on a different meaning once you know someone says to stay away.

    That said, when it comes to books, it’s hard to decide what’s appropriate depending on where you live, what you’ve been through or who you are surrounded by. I’d probably want to see a label that indicates what types of social issues it deals with such that I could decide if I want my child reading it or not reading it. Or if I read it with them and we talked about why the action or words were good/bad, how to deal with them in reality, etc.

    It’s a bit likes ratings for movies, but instead of visually seeing or hearing the “r” content, you are reading it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, James. Everyone’s different, and I agree. It just seems strange that parental ratings are so strict when it comes to movies, music, and videogames, but none on books. I mean, music lyrics are censored/warned about with an explicit content warning. I honestly just want to know that it’s there, to be aware. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to deter anyone from reading a book either. This is a deep subject. It just seems like teachers and parents deserve to know without having to read it first. Everyone’s so busy, who has time to screen books?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I sent this to my Twitter feed and I understand what you are saying. I know that some of our local middle schools will limit the content to older students, but that means the library staff has to read the book and determine the level of reader. Movies and TV have danced around for years with ratings that I do not agree with and what is coming on standard TV networks prior to the old 9:00 pm cutoff is appalling. Between TV, Movies, the Internet, Electronic Books, and their friends, I don’t think there is really any way to keep a youth from reading what they want. Personally, I loved the 39 Clues series even as an adult, but we don’t get that lucky in most written material anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for sharing it! I agree with what you’re saying. Reading a book takes time that many don’t have. Even TV has ratings like TV14 etc., but it helps to know why something has the rating that it does like with movies, it’s listed out for you. I really don’t see how it could hurt. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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      1. It wouldn’t hurt at all to have the ratings. But just like speed limits for cars, you have to have enough people to enforce it. It is good to see that some parents still care enough to want to have ratings for what their children read. Have a blessed day.

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  8. You make some good points – there are books more suited for younger YA and those for older YA. Whenever I review a book that deals with content some may find offensive or leaning more towards the older YA crowd, I try to mention it to give readers the option. And I remember that Judy Blume book, Forever – my friends and I passed it around!

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  9. HaΓ―fa

    Interesting points, dear!!
    I haven’t read many YA books but man! Most of those I read presented some controversial content : killing (plenty), stealing, drugs, rape, sex and even graphic sex… The list is long.
    I don’t have kids yet but I know I’d be pretty attentive to this matter. Some contents are definitely unsuitable to young readers in my opinion. I agree with you, it’s not a matter of changing the content or censoring the books. But mentioning the sensitive content, as you suggested, would be a good idea. However I’m not sure if it would affect the sales. If the sales, in libraries or online, aren’t strictly controlled, and if parents aren’t aware of such warnings, nothing will concretely change.

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  10. As a parent and teacher, I agree with ratings, particularly for those children reading beyond their grade level (e.g. a fifth-grader on an eighth-grade reading level). Often, they find themselves reading text that’s beyond their social-emotional years.

    As a former child reading books beyond her years, I would have hated librarians or my mother keeping me from stories I believed I could handle, like The Color Purple and Scruples (Yes, I read these books before I hit the sixth grade).

    YA sales may see a slight dent. But, since most books are bought by older people (Upper teens and adults), the sales may not have too much of a concern.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Latanya. I would hate to deter children from reading as well, I would just be more comfortable knowing what the book has in it so that I could be aware and available for my children. I’m obviously not going to supervise every book my eleven year old reads-she reads so much! I have four others to read with as well and it all takes time.

      I appreciate your thoughts on this and thanks for sharing your story… πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not a parent so I can’t speak on the subject from that point a view, but as someone who read way above grade level her whole school career, the best thing you can do is be open to talking about things with your child. My mom wasn’t open to talking about things but attempted to censor what I read. That didn’t go over well with me and I’d just read them anyway – tho’ I’d read them at school so she wouldn’t be all over my case about it.

    I find it interesting that your library censors “R” rated movies for those under 18. I know some libraries do but I’ve never known anyone who has lived in one of those library service areas. At our library, we leave it up to the patrons to censor their children’s checkouts. We don’t restrict anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Valerie. That’s very interesting. I know I read above grade level as well, but I never really had anything available that I wasn’t supposed to read. Our school libraries were fairly controlled. I think junior high was when I started reading some heavier stuff, but the books never included sex, rape, drug/alcohol use, or anything like that. At least not that I can remember. I was already exposed to some of the topics anyhow, so it’s not like it would’ve been too much to handle.

      Yeah, our library changed software systems at the end of 2016. They won’t even let me check out R-rated movies on my kid’s cards. They had too many parents come in and complain that their kids were bringing home R-rated movies after school and watching them. The school is right next to the library and a lot of kids walk over from school because their parents are at work. These were elementary aged kids.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your story. I appreciate it! β™‘

      Liked by 2 people

  12. You pose an interesting dilemma and one that needs to be addressed. There’s adult-like material in almost every YA I’ve read in the past few years. But in all reality, kids are dealing with these issues, so why not talk about them in YA. Kids ten and up are making these decisions (drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, sex) and while it’s scary for us adults to admit it, kids need the truth.

    When I was ten, I was reading adult books (especially fantasy and romance). I read Judy Bloom in grade school. Did it influence me? You bet but with my parents working and me being a latch-key kid, I needed an outlet (no social media then) and books were my outlet.

    In each of my middle grade/young adult reviews, I mention key topics and if it is violent/sexual or deals with *fill in the blank*. I take it seriously because I want my readers to be informed.

    The problem with a rating system (like they have to music) is that a book’s audience is wide in both age groups and maturity. You don’t want mislabeling and you don’t want to open the door to censorship.

    I’m in my forties and I still love reading YA. A rating system wouldn’t influence me at all but I agree with you that something needs to happen to help parents, librarians, etc. make informed decisions.

    Great discussion!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I think mentioning these things in reviews is a great idea. I’ll pay more attention to that.

      I did find a few websites that offer some information on books for parents, but it’s limited.

      I personally don’t see what the big deal is, but I do understand other’s views on it. I guess my thought was, what would it hurt to have a little sentence that states strong sexual content or heavy drug use? Personally, if I were an author, I would have no problem including this on the inside front cover, but everyone is different. I love YA and I love a steamy romance every now and then, but the truth is that some of that just isn’t appropriate for everyone or all kids. If a book said strong sexual content, I’d still read it, but maybe my neighbor wouldn’t. I probably wouldn’t want my eleven-year-old reading it, etc. I’m beating the dead horse here, lol. πŸ™‚ I just don’t see what the harm is. It doesn’t stop me from watching movies or listening to music, but I get what you mean about the mislabeling for sure.

      Thanks so much for sharing your comments on this! I appreciate it so much. ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Great discussion topic and thoughtful replies! πŸ™‚ I agree with your statement, “It just seems like teachers and parents deserve to know without having to read it first.” It is not censorship to alert readers to content. Being on goodreads, I always read several reviews before I choose a book with which I am unfamiliar. But not everyone uses goodreads or has the time to search out comprehensive reviews. With Audible, you’re allowed to return a book for any reason and, unfortunately, I’ve had to do that with a few ‘YA” (ha!) books for (imo) graphic sexual content. I love true YA for a reason — because it’s normally sweet and innocent. I’m old, but I have no desire to have someone’s sexual escapades described to me in excruciating detail, nor would I want my children exposed to that. Ratings and/or labels would be a courtesy to those who wish to know. If a child has little parental involvement, they will be able to read whatever they want, regardless. If a child has lots of parental involvement, well, no one knows a child better than his/her own mom or dad and it should be left up to the parent to decide whether or not they believe their child can handle the subject matter. Also, I make a distinction between graphic sex for the purpose of just writing a graphic sex scene and tough topics such as racial injustice, poverty, abuse, etc. If you believe your child is mature enough to handle those topics, they can provide an invaluable opportunity for family discussions.

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie. I very much appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this so, thank you for yours. ❀

      I've read some fairly sexually graphic ones myself, which I don't mind, but that's me. We all have our own tastes and I would never want to tell someone to change a book or remove content from it. I didn't know you could return on Audible. Good to know! I love listening to books on Audible and once again, I've had to turn it off in my house because of whatever was going on in the book, lol. Definitely don't want to be broadcasting graphic sex scenes out loud with little ones running around. Time for the headphones! πŸ˜€

      I would just like to know what's in a book if it contains controversial content, sexual, drugs, whatever it might be. When I think of censorship, I guess I'm thinking more along the lines of bleeping out words in songs, or changing a movie so that it can be broadcasted on local channels. They're actually "taking something out." I just thought a little sentence with the content listed might help parents and teachers who need to filter out those books for their readers until their a little older. I don't even care if they give the book a rating, just list what the content is. It makes it so much easier for younger readers who need a little more stimulation, but not that much! πŸ™‚

      ❀ Thanks, Bonnie.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Dee Arr (A. Reader on Amazon)

    I post on GoodReads as well as Amazon, and many of us know that the climate on Amazon can be ruthless. I commented once on the language used in a book targeting a 12-14 age group (vulgarities as well as f-bombs). I was clobbered for my thoughts, and told that this is how kids talk and I needed to get a grip.
    Yes, once the kids are out the door, the world is their teacher (as I found out when my son was 12 and I discovered a South Park dvd buried under his socks). However, we can give our children what we consider to be the best guidance and hopefully they will make good decisions.
    For instance, when I was in my early teens, I was exposed to “Naked Lunch” through a classmate. Curiosity took hold, and I read a few pages. Why I chose to pass it on and not read more I can’t say, other than my parents had set an example and did not have anything like that in the house.
    I am not sure about an official grading system that restricts books, although as a warning to parents it would be good. In other words, put the rating on but allow the parents to make the ultimate decision.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree, Dee. I don’t think a rating system would work unless the content was listed out. The rating system does seem scary. I’d be happy with just a sentence that listed content.

      You’re right in that we as parents have to influence our kids to do right. It just seems like my kids (all kids) are growing up in a very different world now. What’s acceptable now, wasn’t acceptable back then and much of that is a good thing, but also some bad as well. I don’t want my eleven-year-old dropping f-bombs or any of my kids for that matter. Some people are just the opposite and that’s their business, but like you say, put the warning on there and let the parents make the decision. I also don’t see what’s wrong with kids just being kids these days. They have their whole lives to be adults. What’s the rush?

      Thanks so much for sharing… ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. When I was 15 my girl scout troop took a trip to Savannah Georgia and we took a tour that ended in a gift shop. One of the things they were selling was a non-fiction book based in Savannah. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” I bought it and read it. It was not a young adult book and there also weren’t any explicit scenes but it did deal with murder, drag queens, and gay men. I didn’t think the book was inappropriate for me to read. There is an rated R movie based on the book and my parents let me watch it, (even though I wasn’t 17).. They said that if I read the book I could watch the movie. (plus there were no sex scenes) It was the first R rated movie I ever watched. That was one of the highlights of my childhood. (I know, I was an odd child) If the book had been rated R my girl scout leader would not have let me buy it and I would have missed the entire experience.

    I am torn. I feel like there should be warnings because you don’t want a 10 year old reading about BDSM on accident, but I also feel like adding parental warnings would be a slippery slope into banning books. Think of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” it was banned for using the “N” word and that word would probably get it an R rating, but we read it in High School. If it received and R rating would that mean High Schools would have to remove it from their curriculum? Is that basically the same as banning it?

    I know your topic was specifically about Young Adult books, but I think “Young Adult” is super ambiguous. I’m pretty sure “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” would qualify as Young Adult, if it weren’t labeled as a classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree on the ratings. After listening to everyone’s thoughts today, I think a letter rating would probably be a bad idea. Maybe just a warning IF the book contains strong sexual content and strong language would work, but others think violence, killing, suicide, and drugs is really bad too. After listening to others, I feel like I understand both sides, but still would like to know the more explicit content in YA books somehow, without offending others. Thanks so much for sharing your story! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Really great discussion to have! Personally I’m less concerned with the spoiler issue and more that younger readers have the opportunity to read about some issues that may be hard, but need to be aware of (especially if they are struggling with some of these issues themselves). That said I’ve read books that handle issues well and others where they really don’t- so it would be a bit of a difficult thing to determine which ones should be given to a younger audience based on a simple label.

    Also the problem with trigger warnings, from a psychological perspective, the jury is still out on whether these are helpful or harmful. (I hope you don’t mind me including a bit of info on this) For instance, Professor Metin Basoglu, a specialist in trauma research, argue against trigger warnings for the following reason: “Instead of encouraging a culture of avoidance, they should be encouraging exposure. Most trauma survivors avoid situations that remind them of the experience. Avoidance means helplessness and helplessness means depression. That’s not good” Similarly Richard J. McNally, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, wrote in the Pacific Standard, that “Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder”. Other prominent social scientists and psychologists who argue against trigger warnings for general consumption are Dr Jordan Peterson, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jonathan Haidt and Dr Paul Bloom. So while I think there can be a problem for younger audiences reading inappropriate material, I’m really on the fence about this.

    Sorry for the exceptionally long comment- it’s a very complex issue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so complex! I totally agree on the trigger studies. In overcoming an anxiety disorder, I had to welcome the anxiety in order to get rid of it, although I think a lot of people use the term “trigger” on Goodreads when they are just talking about someone not liking that specific event. The people may not have experienced any of it, they just hate it and don’t want to read about it. Hmmm…

      After reading everyone’s comments, I understand both sides. I don’t think a letter rating would be a great idea, but still think a small “For older readers” comment like what another person mentioned might work for the books that have very strong content . Thanks so much for sharing all of your info! I appreciate it. β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes you’re right. And I think that a lot of people are using the term inappropriately- which is a problem.

        Yeah I think you’re right- I think a lot of books when I was growing up had that on it. I think it’s the best way of dealing with the issue.

        You’re welcome!! Really loved your post on this! ❀

        Like

    1. Thanks, Mitch. There are actually a few websites, but the majority of the books I type in have nothing posted. Also, they have 14+, 16+ age ratings which doesn’t always help. I think a website like what you mention would be perfect though. Sort of like IMDB with a parental advisory section.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! β™‘

      Like

  17. At first, I thought a warning about the content would be good, because I’m not crazy about the idea of age-rating books (younger kids are always going to want to go for the stuff intended for older audiences; let’s not turn it into a dare!), but then there’s the whole spoiler issue. I might lose interest in a book if everything is spelled out ahead of time in a warning (“There’s sex? You mean, the narrator ends up with her crush? Thanks a lot.”).

    I’ve seen this discussion a lot lately. Much of the problem could be resolved if one particular children’s book publisher stopped publishing NA/A-level erotica as YA. Just sayin’…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly. I think it could offer too much info and spoil the book. One reader earlier commented that two YA books she read had a little label that said “For Older Readers.” That’s almost perfect. I wouldn’t give that to my daughter right now. It helps…

      I’m just learning about NA, but just read one recently and it had nothing bad in it at all. There’s just no way to know without reading a review from a person who talks about it, or reading the book. I guess I just wish it was a little easier than that.

      Thank you! I truly appreciate your thoughts on this! πŸ˜‰

      Like

  18. The YA genre is just far too broad. I don’t agree really with ratings so much as maybe breaking it down further into Middle Grade-Young Adult-New Adult

    Which a lot of bloggers do but it’s not so much a legit “thing” that I know of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that would be great. Every now and then, I come across books on Amazon that state for ages 12+, etc. I think it helps. There just isn’t a standard and I wish there was.

      Thanks so much! πŸ˜β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also, I know more and more parents that read blogs for a geneal idea on content. Due to my particular audience and friends that are a bit more…sensitive, I try to give content warnings for certain types of content.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I think this is a really smart idea. I don’t have any kids, so I can’t speak from that stand point. But even just for me to be aware. If I knew there was going to be a lot of sexual or drug/alcohol themes before I even read the book….it would save me time. Now I’m probably luckier than most people when it comes to reading or not reading books with those themes in it….but I still think it’s a great idea! Rate it the same type of way a movie is rated. Now we just need someone to put it into actionπŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Abbey. It seems like more people are for it than against it, but after reading everyone’s comments and thoughts, I think a small statement might be better than a letter rating. It would help so much! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚ β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Bobby Underwood

    I’m not against it, but when you look around Goodreads, you might wonder if it’s the “reviewers” who need to have a rating attached to them, since the site obviously cares less what is written there, with or without memes. If I had a dime for every time I saw the F bomb on a review, either written or within a meme, and other stuff at least equal to that, I’d be able to purchase Goodreads from Amazon. So in general, yes, but then what’s the point, when a kid goes to look at “reviews” of the book, and it’s right there, with no “advisory” at all????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How ironic that you mentioned it. My mom was just complaining about that yesterday. It doesn’t really bother me that much, but yeah, I know there are some younger kids on Goodreads as well and they see it. I’m really surprised that they don’t censor the language.

      I really think GR needs a lot of work. I still can’t understand why when you block someone, you still see their stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if anything ever changes. That’s a post for aother day I suppose. πŸ™‚ Thaks so much for sharing your thoughts, Bobby β™‘

      Like

  21. What a controversial topic. I read many of the above replies and there are so many wonderful ideas here. I do not like censorship and that is not what this is talking about. I do believe that if there is foul language or sexual content, rape etc. that it would not be a problem to put a little sticker with that on the back of the book like they do with movies, games, music etc. It is just letting people know it is there, then they can make an informed decision. I had parents complain about books in my school library that their 12 year old read because it has one mild swear word in it and there was kissing. I just said that perhaps they would prefer their child did not read YA books at this time. A lot to think about here. Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carla, I’m so glad to read your thoughts on this. I don’t see what’s so bad about adding a sticker either. It’s not taking anything away, only adding a statement regarding the content. I think parents and teachers deserve that.

      I wouldn’t mind a book for my daughter that involved kissing or a minor word here and there, but the strong content I feel needs a label. If I were an author, I wouldn’t mind doing that, but as some mentioned, it might be too much of a spoiler.

      Thanks for your expertise, Carla. I appreciate it! β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I think books should have those kinds of ratings. It wouldn’t be censorship, more of a mild warning of whats to come. If the parents have an idea of what is inside the book, they can make a better decision about allowing their kids to buy it. I think there needs to be more separation in the YA genres as well. YA should not span from 12-25. There are YA books suitable for 16-25 and YA books suitable for younger than 16. There should be more separation that would better help this situation. I do think anyone under the age of 16 should have some sort of parental guidance when selecting books with mature content, so the parents can decide if their kid has the maturity level to handle it. But I also don’t think a 13 year old should be reading and watching Game of Thrones, so some parents will end up just not caring I guess. Great post here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the age is way too broad for YA as well. Censorship to me is taking something out or bleeping something out. I’d be happy with just a little label or something notifying of the content.

      Thanks for your input! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Most definitely! A suggested age range and guidance, and trigger warning label would suffice. I think at the age of 16 most teenagers should be mature enough to make their own decisions on stuff like that with mild parental guidance, but younger should definitely have a separate age category for books and a label.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. An Introverted Bookworm

    This post is so relevant to me right now. My oldest is 10. He reads well and is getting curious. It’s getting harder and harder to read whole books just to ensure they are appropriate. With television, you see a simple icon and know that it might not be appropriate, but with books you never know until you read it. I think that perhaps they could adopt some sort of icon similar to the way television does. It need not ruin the story, they could simply say something along the lines of “adult elements” or something of that nature and it would be a flag that maybe I should read this before my kid does. Great discussion topic btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. This is such a great question and a discussion I could have with someone for hours. I can really see both sides of the issue. When I was a teen, no one censored my reading. I read whatever I wanted and every bit of it (both the trash and the literature) was valuable for me in some way.

    Yet at the same time, I think books are changing so much from when I was a teen. The “trashy” novels I read back then weren’t really all that bad. These days we have books like Paper Princess by Erin Watt which (really) is just soft porn . . . marketed to TEENS. I read the book and was appalled that the characters were sixteen and that teens were the targeted market group. That would not have happened when I was a teen. I think so much more is permissible as far as publishing and marketing standards . . . the lines have shifted somehow.

    That being said . . . putting a label on books based on the content is difficult. There are some books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson which contains a female character who was raped. But the book is actually valuable for a teen to read . . . it contains genuine struggles and would be a really great conversation starter for parents who want to have conversations with their kids. And yet this book got a lot of parents upset, saying that the content was inappropriate. So who would get to decide the ratings?

    Anyway . . . there’s a lot to think about here. What a great question. Thanks for posting it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lonna. You’re so right, and how it’s presented in the book makes a huge difference. There are some that are trash and some that are not, but without reading it, we have no way of knowing. IMO, books have changed since I was a teen as well.

      I think after hearing everyone’s thoughts, a simple “For older readers” or “mature” would work wonders. I know they are already out there. There’s just not a standard.

      I appreciate your thoughts! Thank you. πŸ™‚ β™‘

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Pingback: Award: Mystery Blogger Award – ReadRantRock&Roll

    1. Yeah, good question. I feel like movie ratings are quite fair and lost the content. After reading everyone’s comments, I think just a simple warning would be nice. “Mature” even works. I’ve noticed some books have it, but wish it was standard! πŸ˜‰ I think the idea of actual grade ratings scares too many people. Thanks for sharing! πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: Morning Star (Red Rising Saga #3) by Pierce Brown – Booksprens

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