Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tell Me Something Tuesday #26

It is that time of week again! You guessed it -Tell Me Something Tuesday; a weekly meme hosted by the fabulous author of the Heven and Hell series, Cambria Hebert. If you would like to participate, visit her blog and grab next week's question and add your link. This week's question:
Do you think that YA books should have ratings like movies?

TV Rating System
This is an interesting question and one that I am almost hesitant to answer. My general answer is no, but of course it is more complicated than that. Some will ask since they are already published as being YA, why do they need to be broken down more? Well, there are three main YA categories already: Lower/Middle YA (10-14), YA (13-18), and New Adult (18-25). I understand there are some that might say that books containing sex, alcohol and drug use, and excessive violence is not appropriate for their children. Agreed, but what category is the book placed in already? To what age have the publishers marketed the book to? There are teens, even tweens, that are extremely mature and are able to handle mature themes. And then there are some that hide V.C. Andrews' books under their desks and giggle. The allure of the V.C. Andrews' book is that it is naughty and adult. If there is a rating on a book that states it contains sexual content I guarantee you those rebellious teens will find a way to read it just because it has that rating/warning.

If there were to be any ratings I think that maybe a system like what we see on TV would be appropriate for reference purposes only, not as a blanket guideline as to who can or cannot read the book. If we rate YA books like movies - would we then equally enforce the rules like theaters do and what would that mean? Who would then decide what fit into what category. Would you have to show ID to buy a book? Would a parent have to be present for all book purchases? Would Walmart start selling only books that have been censored like they do with music? I'm not sure I like the answers to these questions.

Movie Rating System
Let me point out that I do not have children, but I was a teacher of middle and high school students. I am well aware of how they act, think, and feel. In fact, as much as people want to ignore it, some teenagers curse, drink, use drugs, and have sex as young as 12. Do I like it or agree with their actions? No. But, I am aware of the fact that is happens. I also am aware that they do not liked to be talked down to or treated as a child. Most teens want someone to look up to and they want to read about characters who have struggles and lives just like they do.

As a former teacher I have to ask why would someone try to stop a child/teen from reading? I had a student that hated working and sat and threw paper around the room because he was bored. I put a book in his hands and told him to read and after some pouting, dirty looks, and general defiance - he started to read...and he kept reading - all 12 books in the series! He had found something he loved and I was able to use it as a tool to get him to work, behave, and more importantly - comprehend. The same book that I gave him to read was one that I had a parent complain about. It was the Everworld series by K.A. Applegate and contained some mature themes, violence, and a multitude of pantheons. However, the parent was extremely religious and did not want her son exposed to those things. She also went on to tell the administration that it should be pulled from the shelves. Thankfully, the administration said no. Not everyone believes the same and therefore one should not have to act the same. Look at the book Fahrenheit 451 - do we want our world to end up that way? 

There are always going to be things that people don't like or find offensive. And parents have every right to be mindful of what their kids read. I think that all parents should read what their kids are reading because if there is something in a book they find troubling, parents can use it as a teaching tool. Talk to your kids - find out what they think about the subject, theme, and actions of the characters. Parents should be the filter for what kids read, not someone else who does not know your child specifically. 

What do you think? Should there be ratings for YA novels?


  1. Hi Krista,
    I think you make some very valid points. Especially that there will always be something that people find more offensive than others.
    I also believe that parents should be involved in what their children are reading, and use books as a way in which to open discussion and to use as a teaching tool.
    This is also why I am so passionate about books. They bring debate to the forefront!
    Great post!

  2. Thanks. It is a difficult question to answer and definitely not one that everyone agrees upon. But above all, parents need to be involved.

  3. Yes, this is a tough question but I think a ratings system should be a guidelime only and not meant to deter anyone from reading a book. It all boils down to parental supervision and maturity, .i myself read at a collegr level in junior high so again it all,depends on the child It is a great discussion for sure. I will be anxious to hear your thoughts on New Girl.

  4. I read at a college level early also and was reading 600 page books overnight. Everything was fair game for me. My mom knew I was a high level reader and trusted me know what I read was fiction and not something to go act upon. I will let you know when I finish New Girl. You have me so intrigued!

  5. Sorry I am late coming by I was moving but I really love your answer. I loved hearing what we all had to say about this topic. I agree that discourgaing kids from reading isn't good. And I also agree that most kids want a character that they can look up too and who faces the same struggles as they do.
    I really think parent involvment is a good thing and also it just depends on the child. :) This week's TMST is up!


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