Thursday, May 19, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Age Inappropriate

Question: 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?

A great question. I am absolutely against anyone designating a book inappropriate for a child because of reading ability. Sometimes the best way for a child to make a “leap” in his or her reading skills is to stretch and read a book that is a bit too hard, because they are particularly interested in the content or because their friends or siblings have recommended it. My younger daughter finally stopped being intimidated by “big books” when her best friend went Percy Jackson-crazy. She needed help with a bunch of words, but by the end of the book she was doing great – she’d taken a huge step reading-wise, even though the book was probably a bit too difficult.

Of course, content is another issue. A parent or a teacher who knows a child well may have enough information about his or her emotional state to worry about themes being too frightening or disturbing for a child. I would never say “Never” to a title, but I would discuss with my daughter what I saw as the pros and cons of a book. I would even read a chapter or two with her. Most of all, I try not to let my own feelings, tastes and prejudices keep my daughters from titles that might be right for them. Perfect example: I would never pick up a title like Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. But a teacher recommended it to my oldest daughter in 10th grade, and she absolutely loved it. Sometimes your kids do know best!

And sometimes family norms and values allow for books that others would never dream of reading. Our kids live in a family where a quirky – even a dark – sense of humor is highly prized. Around here, Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies is bedtime reading around Halloween. Twenty-six kids coming to 26 elaborate ends might not be the stuff of sweet dreams in every house, but it’s so very absurd that my kids and I absolutely crack up!*

What about you? Is anything age inappropriate at your house?

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. To participate, just copy the week’s question, answer on your blog, and link the answer in the comments for that week. Thanks to Deb for hosting!

*Weird, I admit, but realistic child violence is really disturbing to me, and cartoonish mayhem not at all. Adults, like kids, need to know their limits!


  1. Great detailed answer. I have really enjoying reading everyone's answer to these difficult questions.

    If you are interested, my answer is here.

  2. I agree with you. I would try to guide my son, but I never stopped him from reading anything.

  3. I did offer a rather liberal approach when I was a young parent...and my "guidance" of my grandkids is different than what I offered to my own children. Censorship and forbidding things is not the way to go, though, IMO.


  4. I do try to keep an eye on what the kids are reading, especially my daughter who's just turned 14. She's way into Manga and some of it is a little adult. There are a couple of series I had to guide her away from because I skimmed them and found them kind of graphic and disturbing.

    Edward Gorey reminds me a bit of Lemony Snicket, whom my children love. (or I suppose I should say the other way around). We've also read some of the short stories of Saki, usually the ones with characters who are children. (Our favorite is "The Storyteller.") I think they're age appropriate as long as the kids realize these people aren't role models!

  5. I enjoyed reading your post! This is something that comes up daily in my job in our school library, and sometimes teachers ask me my opinion on the content for a certain student.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  6. A great answer, age and content is the key.

  7. An excellent, considered answer.

  8. Such a great answer! I never though of it in terms of reading ability but it's a good point. I was never really interested in the little kid books when I was young and I think it helped me a lot to move on to harder books.

  9. I don't have kids yet but yours sounds like a perfectly resonable answer!

  10. I heart Edward Gorey. All kids should read Gashleycrumb Tinies! Keeps 'em well-behaved and ennui-free.


I absolutely love comments. Thanks for taking the time to share! Col