This week Booking Through Thursday asks the following:
Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?
My initial thought was yes, but the more I thought about it I wondered if it is really as straightforward as that. When you get into any kind of ratings system like this, you get into questions of who decides what is and isn’t objectionable, which can lead you down the slippery slope of censorship. Although not always the most ideal system, the way books are categorized into genres can be helpful in deciding whether a book is suitable or not.
I have a times worried about the suitability of a book for my children, but there are better ways of working this out than having a ratings system. Most bookstores are quite good at having age-group sections and some publishers even categorize things into either age appropriateness or grade-level reading. There are also some really good websites that can help. The best one around is probably Common Sense Media, which has a good approach all media, not just books. It is often the first place we visit if we have any concerns about the suitability of books, movies, games, etc. They are good about breaking down the content and explaining why they recommend what age is suitable for whatever is being reviewed. They also offer the opportunity for input and comments from anyone, kids included.
Hopefully we never see a rating system for books similar to that of movies, but I do think that parents should be involved in helping their children make their reading choices. Quite often the kids themselves are best at deciding, especially if they are avid readers. I’ve never had to ban any books in our household and only on a few occasions have I had to suggest that a book might not be suitable yet.