And you better believe I have some deep thoughts on this. 

Before we get into any of the nitty or the gritty, let me explain the basics of the situation:  Barnes and Noble has started posting "age appropriateness" scores next to some of the books on their website.  A group called "Common Sense Media" is doing the scoring, and they rank whether a book is in the green (age appropriate) in the yellow (iffy whether the intended age group can handle it) or red (any sentence will make your head explode and/or turn Communist at first glance). 

There's a really good article about this on Salon in regards to Judy Blume's "Are You there God, It's Me Margaret." 

Basically, Common Sense Media listed her book as "questionable" (the controversial yellow zone) for the age bracket because of, and I quote "mentions of Playboy, kissing, menstruation, bras, [and] emerging sexuality." 

Now at what age do they think the fragile mind of the child is ready to read about bras and Playboy?  14 to 17.  I shit you not. 

I know it's gotta be tough for any group to figure out the age appropriateness for a book, but really?  14 to 17?  17 like you're a senior in high school?  17 like you can sign up for the military?  17 like you can get a super douchey dye job and listen to Limp Bizkit (author's note: at least that's what I did when I was 17). 

Going by this scale, kids shouldn't be allowed to read Sophomore Undercover until they're 45, and by that point, my readers will probably be a little too worried about mortgage payments and upcoming prostate exams to appreciate the delicate humor and locker room hijinks. 

The worst part about this whole thing is that the Common Sense Media rating is just staring at you right in the face when you go to the Barnes and Noble website.  Not every parent is gonna have time to think through whether little Sally's 12 year old psyche can handle some "emerging sexuality" and "bra" talk.  No, they're just gonna see that the book is in the dreaded red or yellow zone, and buy them something that isn't offensive. 

But do you want to know what's offensive?  Every other goddamn thing that a 12 year old is exposed to in the media.  If we're gonna keep kids away from Judy Blume because it's too racy, well, that's insane, but I'd be willing to go along with it if we had the same standards for video games, TV, movies and the Internet.  There's quite a bit of material about "emerging sexuality" on those things too, but I think Judy Blume covers it with a bit more grace than the Jersey Shore.  

Getting kids to read is difficult enough already.  Let's not keep them from some really great books just because of a little menstruation and Playboy talk. 

NOTE: 

Sophomore Undercover didn't get rated by Common Sense Media, so that kept my righteous indignation in check a bit.  I don't want to beg or anything, but what does a fella have to do to get a little negative attention from a parent's group?
 


Comments

Adam Rex
02/25/2010 20:39

If I'm reading it right they've backed off a little and listed AYTGIMM as 11+

Smekday is listed as 9+, which I feel is about right, though some of their "What to Watch Out For" tips are a little reactionary.

Reply
Adam Rex
02/25/2010 20:48

Nevermind, I think I read it wrong.

Reply
02/26/2010 00:29

Holy crap, it's Adam Rex.

Dude, it's always an honor when you stop by the blog. I just checked out the "things to watch out for" on Smekday...why is it considered a bad thing that you mentioned a car brand? If you didn't write Toyota would an 8 year old be able to handle it? Jesus this is confusing.

Anyway, thanks for the comment and I am ridiculously excited for Fat Vampire.

Ben

Reply
Alyson
02/26/2010 06:21

People who want to put ratings on books or reading levels on books and scoring to books 1. Don't really work with children (if you did then you would be aware of what they know at a young age) and 2. Must not understand the concept of "reluctant readers". *sighs, and shakes head*

All of that just makes my job as an educator, trying to get kids to read, that much harder.

Reply
02/27/2010 17:50

Ha, don't worry...as a middle school librarian I buy books on this scale...if they hear it in the halls at school why not read about it in a good book? : )

Reply
wheelz
03/01/2010 21:31

are they trying to get even less kids to read? youtube doesn't have ratings...

Reply
12/24/2010 00:17

When I visit this good webiste,Just to say,I am glad to read so good article in the webstie.Well,OK.I have to say,what a wonderful blog it is.thank you for your sharing so good articles in the website.I like it very much.It is very interesting in it.Look forward to reading in your website.

Reply
02/25/2011 23:35

Spring is near,every girl wants to be the bride in the special season.They are eager to put on beautiful Wedding Dresses or the Bridal gowns.Here "www.prettyweddingdress.com", with your desired dress!!

Reply
04/14/2011 20:23


Thank you for the share, I am impressed that you posted this here!

Reply
07/31/2011 23:22

The negotiators appeared to be having a hard time defining what kind of cuts would occur at the end of the year 2012 if Congress failed to act on the committee’s recommendations.

Reply
03/21/2012 02:15

Hello! Welcome to my louis vuitton online store.

Reply


You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the web. I'm going to recommend this blog!

Reply


You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the web. I'm going to recommend this blog!

Reply


You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the web. I'm going to recommend this blog!

Reply
07/24/2013 23:39

I think classifying a reader based on age is not a good practice. I don’t find any problems if a child or middle aged man read a crime thriller or fantasy novel. But some restrictions are to be made on some books which deal with extreme violent or adult content. In that case this classification seems to be okay. I understand your concern on this matter and I hope it will get sorted out soon.

Reply
07/25/2013 00:03

Classifying a reader based on age is not a good practice in my opinion. I don’t find any problems if a child or middle aged man read a crime thriller or fantasy novel. But some restrictions are to be made on some books which deal with extreme violent or adult content. In that case this classification seems to be okay. I understand that you are frustrated on this matter and I hope it will get fixed soon.

Reply



Leave a Reply