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Faye’s Thoughtful Friday; Teen Fiction Ratings

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Hey All!
Faye’s Thoughtful Friday is a new feature here at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts! At the moment this may not happen every friday, but they will always appear on Fridays. These posts will be all about my thoughts and opinions on bookish things and movie things. This week I am going to talk to you all about Teen Fiction Ratings


So when I went to the London Book Fair, one of the panels that I went to was called Does Teen Fiction Need a Rating? It was headed by C. J. Daugherty and was one of the most interesting panels that I went to during my time at the fair. This is a question which I am certain many people have asked over the years, but nothing has really ever happened about it. So I am here today to discuss the pros and cons of the rating system from the notes I took before opening the floor up to you and asking you what you think about teen fiction having a rating.

Pros
  1. With a violence rating, people can be aware of what books they’re picking up.
  2. A good sign for parents to know the book is suitable for their child without reading it.
  3. Able to warn readers and buyers of potential unsuitable content, such as violence, swearing, sex, etc.
  4. Allows parents to be more aware of what they’re children are reading.
  5. Allows readers to know what to expect in certain books, allowing them to choose which books they wish to avoid.
  6. With ratings you can avoid issues.
  7. Allows writers to write more realistic scenes.
Cons
  1. Even with an age rating, kids will still read it.
  2. Run the risk of desensitising people from violence.
  3. It may cause children to desire to read books with a higher rating, as their curiostiy is high.
  4. WIth ratings, more can be added to books but this may lead to younger children reading too much.
  5. It would only be a guidance for parents and carers, children are likely to never even notice the rating.
  6. It could be construed as being similar to censorship.
  7. Would it even work?

In my personal opinion, I am not sure that rating books would be a very good idea. If a book was rated, say, 11+, it is likely that parents may even feel that their eleven year old is too young and may buy them something different. But when I was younger, teen fiction had only just arrived and I was already reading adult books with a lot worse content. Why do we feel the need to now coddle our children as though they cannot deal with the things they read in the books? A lot of children may not understand fully what they’re reading anyway but may still enjoy the majority of what happens, and these books can also teach them about growing up in interesting and informative ways.

I also feel that it would take away the discovery of finding a book that is exciting and interesting. Children will always want to read above their “age” anyway, but they already have books written exclusively for them, how would adding a rating to those books help in the long run? I also believe that it would be difficult to add ratings to books anyway because who would ultimately have the final say? Publishers? Bookshops? Libraries? Why is it okay for an adult to say that only children above a certain age are able to read a particular book? Every child grows at a different rate and goes through different things, why should we stop them from being able to read about things they may already face or have to face later on in their lives?

So, in a nutshell, I just think that adding a rating to books would ruin the teen fiction reading experience. I can understand that from a parents’ point of view it would be incredibly helpful, but it may make reading less fun from a child or teenagers point of view, and as their the target audience, surely that matters more than anything else?

But what about you? What do you think about teen fiction having a rating?

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4 thoughts on “Faye’s Thoughtful Friday; Teen Fiction Ratings

  1. interesting topic! :) by “rating”, you mean the age rating right? I always thought the rating was required by regulatory boards or some sort. I think for some it’s useful, but most usually ignore them. But in cases like school libraries, I think the librarians need to look over these things. But personally speaking, like you, I’ve read adult books even when I was still in grade school, and yeah, I didn’t understand some of the things I’ve read but still enjoyed and learned a lot about the book. Reading is a hobby and I think personal values and convictions are not really affected by anything fiction the children or people in general read. Well, I’m speaking for myself though, hehe.

  2. I think some teen books in the UK have had ratings for years?
    I think it works better for parents/relatives of children who aren’t keen on reading so you know what to buy for their age range to encourage them to read :)
    My mum never really stopped me from reading ‘above’ my age just double checked what was in the book so she was aware.

  3. You’ve posted such an interesting topic, Faye! Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of bookish ratings.

    I suppose my feelings on this issue are somewhat mixed. Where I can see the value in ratings for parents (and kid) in that it allows them to be more readily aware of the content that they’re reading, I’m definitely not about restrictions or censorship based purely on age. Not everyone is on the same level of maturity so some younger kids are able to handle more adultly content (and vice versa). I tend to think that putting ratings on books will lead to schools/libraries limiting certain books to younger kids because of those ratings and I just wonder where it all stops. At the end of the day, everyone should have access to the written word despite its content and if parents are really that concerned about what their kids are reading, then it’s up to them to do the research on the book and facilitate a dialogue with their children about it.

  4. Part of me thinks that rating books might be a good idea. I have young cousins, and I pass certain books I review on to them, but others I don’t (mainly because of sexual content, not violence). However, I think back to what I used to read when I was their age, and I certainly wasn’t stopped by whether a book was for children, teenagers of adults!

    I think parents should be aware of what their children are reading, and act responsibly, but books are a great way of introducing children to difficult subjects, so we shouldn’t censor what kids read too much.

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