Google+ Reading Teen: Ratings on books?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ratings on books?

'Betwixt'- Crossing the line???
Every time I pick up a book to read, coffee or a glass of red wine in hand, I get excited about what's gonna happen. I'm wanting romance, some intense action, throw in a little sci-fi and I'm good. Don't bother me. I even have a bad habit agreeing to things my children ask for, just to make them go away. Boy, do I pay for that later.

My intention was just to let Andye handle the blog while I just read and wrote book reviews. Well, I can't just sit around and stay quiet after reading 'Betwixt'. It was rough. I had just read three chapters and noted seventeen f*** words. I was appalled. I'm not saying I don't expect some books to sound like a Quentin Tarantino movie, and sometimes I might enjoy that, but not when I get it out of the teen section of the library.

Before Andye had the brilliant idea to start a book review for the concerned parent, I would have just let my teenage daughter read a book that she had chosen from the teen section at the library with no problem. My ignorance told me that there is reason that the book was in that section at the library, it must be okay. Minor language, minor violence, some kissing and caressing, it all looked harmless enough.

I trust my children, that when they read a book, that they will make the right decision about whether to continue or not based on it's content. Or should I? Maybe then it will be to late. One line could do it. Boom, innocence lost forever. Or, am I going overboard? Well, no longer will I put my children's innocence on the line for my lack of concern for what they are reading. No longer will I assume that the author or librarian has my child's interest at heart. Some of the - your child needs to experience everything because their going through puberty - authors of this world have no remorse when it comes to filling our children's head with garbage. Whether it's sex, drugs or even a political point of view, that you may or may not agree with. The author will, intentionally or unintentionally, mold our children to become like every other child in America. That is not what I want. Why even write a book if not to try and encourage your readers to see, think and even believe the way you do. My problem is that the authors who are guilty of crossing the line, are gearing very adult topics toward our teens and think not only it's okay, they know that they could get away with just about anything. Who is going to stop them? Is it art? The right to express yourself?

After reading a few chapters of 'Betwixt', of course the language was just ridiculous and the teens could only think about sex, their drug dealer and the next keg party. The contents of this book really made me angry. Very angry. If I found it in the adult section, I would have been fine, maybe even given it a chance. Any of my children could have walked in the library, chosen this fantasy out of the teen section with the big butterfly on the front, thinking it looks like a fun read. The sweet, elderly librarian would help them check out the book, not a care in the world. I feel like running and screaming through the library to annoy the staff, that would be my initial reaction. Then I think who's to blame? Is it the one who selects the books that go into our library? The authors? Maybe, even the publicist? The ultimate responsibility lies with us, the parents. Who in the heck has time to read all these books before our children can enjoy them? Not me, I have five. With different taste.

I am not understanding why. If we can put a parental advisory tag on music, a board that puts ratings on the movies we watch, and get serious about the games our kids play, than why can we not put something on the books we read? I personally do not want to get rid of any books or burn them as some crazy activist group would do. Every book has it's place in the library or at the book store. This is America, and if someone wants to read a book that will rot your brain or an evil ( sell your soul to the devil) book, than that's their business. I would like to make it priority, that someone takes this issue very serious. We need ratings, parental advisory tags for the teen/children's books. The author's need some kind of accountability, so that when they fill our children's heads with their ideas, they have to answer to someone for the line that they cross.


For the full review click here


  1. I think there should be ratings on books. Everything else games, music, movies....the problem is that the people that rate them don't have the same standards most Christians do so what I wouldn't let my teen read would be acceptable by their standards.

  2. I would think that if a board could be formed somehow or that the publishers had the same standard to go by, then maybe it would be better than nothing. The association who rate the movies get close to what the ratings should be. Sometimes they are way off. I assume some of those people do not know God. You do not have to be a Christian to know that more than a couple of very strong curse words would be consindered moderate or a dozen would be considered extreme.

  3. I don't think books should have ratings for at least four reasons:
    1. Ratings are arbitrary. Look at movie ratings to see what I mean.
    2. Ratings won't prevent any child from reading a book because...
    3. Ratings will be used as a marketing tool to increase the curiosity level of surreptitiously targeted audiences: "We never intended for your child to read our R rated book."
    4. Ratings are a mindless proxy for informed parenting.

  4. Well, Rob, you are MUCH smarter than me, so I'd be stupid to disagree.....but I do. :)

    1. I do think ratings are somewhat arbitrary, but there are guidelines. I know that if a movie is rated R, there's going to be serious language, sexual content, violence, or maybe all of the above. I know I won't let any of my kids see that movie. I don't really agree with them about what should be considered PG-13, but I now have a good idea of what that rating means, and it gives me some guideline of where to start. Not to mention, they usually say, "rated PG-13 for sexual content" or whatever. As it is now, when teens or parents pick up a teen/ya book, there is NO way to know what is it, unless you do serious research. A book about two 15 year olds having sex and using the "F" word every other sentence is sitting right next to an Anne of Green Gables book, and any 12 year old can check it out/buy it without any kind of permission.

    2. Ratings may not keep all children from reading certain books, but it will keep some from it. There are some parents who don't pay attention, or don't care, but there are a lot that do. My kids would not read books that are rated "R" because I pay attention.

    3. I am not worried in the least about ratings being used as a marketing tool. Have you seen the YA book shelf? They couldn't possibly market any harder to teenagers than they already do. These books are written for teens.

    4. Ratings are a starting point for parents. Instead of having to inspect every book out there, parents can narrow their search (if they want to) to books that at least have a chance of being appropriate. If a book is rated "R" or "17+" or whatever, I know that I don't even need to bother.

  5. I'm in total agreement with you Andria. Ratings are just a starting point for those who care about what their children watch, read and listen to. That's why websites like yours is good for helping those who want to research further into the content of the books. Like the websites for and having your site is just one more way to combat the standards the world sets for us.

  6. You're not stupid to disagree. On the conclusion to matter, we might have to agree to disagree, but that being said, I certainly don't think your arguments are invalid. Furthermore, I don't ever remember you being anywhere close to stupid.

    Per point #1, there's probably enough sex and violence in the Bible's OT to garner a PG-13 to R rating, especially if you read it in the original language. In fact, a rabbi once told me that children were not allowed to read the Song of Songs in earlier times. To me, content is not so much the issue as message. So what I might like to see on a book is a brief description of some of the potential objectionable content without a rating system. It would be more informative as a starting point and not suffer from blurring around the edges (like PG-13 with brief nudity and profanity versus R for violence and strong profanity). I would want to know why profanity is being used or why violence is being depicted. For example, when Paul says that his life before Christ was skoobala (the Greek word for dog s*&t - yes, he used that word in the Bible. Jeff Wofford provides a discussion about it here: [] Be forewarned. It contains a naughty word. Jeff also doesn't express just how obscene this word was. He says it refers to human poop, but it goes way beyond that. Paul really pulled a zinger here.) is he using strong language to make a point or is he trying to be salacious?

    A big question in my mind is who legislates and enforces such ratings. Quite frankly, I don't want civil legislation to enter the picture. What I do want to see is motivated parents, like yourself, to hold book publishers to a level of accountability. Your blog is a great start, and I think you could do more to start something close to what you envision and more communicative to people who share your world view. You could also contact publishing houses of YA books and tell them that you are starting a review service for parents of teen readers, like the seal of good housekeeping, and offer them some means to participate with you. As I think about it, there's a lot you could do to achieve the goals I think you are conceiving without arbitrary rating systems being imposed.

  7. That is true about the bible, it was never for the purpose of just sex, or violence, there was point to be made. God love is always G-Rated

  8. Rob, somehow I didn't see that there was more to your post.
    It's funny, Kirstyn's friend and I were just talking last night about how the problem with putting the content of books on the website is that you don't see the positive elements of the book. When you put all the "bad stuff" together on one page, it makes most books look bad. Unfortunately a lot of these teen books don't have many positive elements. They seem to just be books about sex with a little vampire blood thrown in for good measure. BUT, I'm reading some books right now that I think are really thought provoking for teens, and would be a good discussion starter between parents and their teen, but if you look at the content alone, you may pass the book by. I just started this as a kind-of ministry to a few parents, but it seems like it's taking on a life of its own. I may need more of those goal achieving ideas you're talking about!

  9. There's always more than meets the eye to my posts. ;)

    The fact of the matter is, some of the content in the books you're reading has been standard fare in litereature for centuries if not millenia.

    Would you let your teen read The Canterbury Tales? It contains some rather ribald stuff, but it was also a brilliant display of middle English lit and social commentary. I had to read it in senior lit class, and at the time I didn't appreciate what it was really about. But looking back on it, it was great to be exposed to it.

    I've actually always wanted to write YA books, especially like those written by Madeleine L'Engle. Some of her books made a huge and lasting effect in my life.

    Anyway, I'll be glad to help you with any ideas. I think you have a great idea going here.

  10. I'm not sure how I feel about the literary classics that are full of "questionable content". I've actually never read most of those books because I hated to read and avoided it at all costs. On one hand I see it as a great way to introduce teens to the world, and help them think for themselves, but on the other hand, I'm not sure how much it actually impacts most teens. Maybe it's better that they wait until they're adults. Not sure. I guess each parent will have their own opinion about it, so that's why I like the idea of informing, not "banning".

  11. I think children mature at different rates and it's incumbent on each parent to understand what their children can handle. Informed dialogue is necessary to help guide kids through the world views presented in various forms of literature, and that requires being an informed adult. At some point a person is going to be exposed to alternate world views. I think it's best to be a part of the shaping process as you cultivate their understanding of the world as opposed to just waiting to let them grow up and face the questions more or less in a vacuum.


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