It's Tuesday again! I have a great discussion question today, courtesy of Cambria Hebert, the hostess of Tell Me Something Tuesday. If you want to participate go to her blog, link up and pick up next week's question!
Do you think that YA books should have ratings like movies?
A burning question these days that honestly, until recently I hadn't given this issue any thought until this past winter when I read and reviewed New Girl by Paige Harbison. You can see my review here. I picked this up knowing it was a retelling of Daphne Du Maurier's classic Rebecca.
I was a bit shocked and disturbed to find a book that was filled with page after page of scenes involving heavy teen drinking and sexual content, that in my mind was over the top for the YA audience. At what point to you draw the line? I am no means a prudish person and I detest book banning and believe in freedom of speech. Now that I have a daughter who is going on four years old, I am more vigilant. I know that when it comes down to the content of books, movies and tv shows the age at which it is appropriate to be viewing certain things is all about maturity. It is impossible to lump everyone into a certain category. Most of the monitoring is left up to the parent's discretion, which is as it should be. However, if your young reader has graduated into the YA adult genre, which according to wikipedia, is a category specifically marketed toward readers in the 12-18 range and even as low as ten years. Would I want a ten to fourteen year old reading a title that includes an exorbitant amount of drinking, drug use and sex? I think not! The problem is how do you know what books are appropriate for the 10-14 demographic vs. the 15-18 group? You don't know this unless you are informed by reading reviews. As a busy parent, many people probably don't have the time to monitor everything their young reader picks up. Especially if they have access to these titles at their local or school libraries. In the interest of differentiating these titles, I feel a ratings system would be beneficial in separating out titles that are best suited for older readers. Currently, as it stands the category is too broad and there is a huge range of titles offered. Some are
completely perfect for readers of all ages while many tow the line and should be read by mature readers only. I have heard the argument that kids are exposed to these controversial behaviors everyday. That might be true, but then again I truly hope that kids in the ten to thirteen age range are not participating in drinking and sex, and if they are there is likely a serious problem with parental supervision.
A rating system would make it easier for parents and librarians to make sure younger readers are reading material appropriate for their age and maturity. While it may not be an issue that many of you have considered, let me put it to you this way, would you want your 10-14 year old daughter picking up a copy of a book like New Girl filled with scenes of drinking and drunkenness and sex used for manipulation? I certainly wouldn't want my daughter reading that until she was mature enough. Ultimately, the final decision lies with the parent and young reader, but a rating system would certainly simplify the process. I am hopeful that either a rating system or new categorization system will soon be adopted. Just recently I discovered a new classification called New Adult, which is geared toward reader in the 18-25 age range (see full definition on wikipedia). This is an excellent solution, and I hope there are further divisions into the broad classification known as YA. With the recent explosion of the category, the market is flooded with titles. A little help in wading through them would certainly be appreciated, I think, by many parents out there. The movie and television industry adopted the ratings guide a long time ago, perhaps it is time for the book industry to use these guidelines as well. Keep in mind, a ratings should by no means be used to restrict or ban titles from readers, it should be merely a guideline to help make sure age appropriate material ends up in the right hands.
So what do you think? What are thoughts on this issue?