Content Review: A book review that also contains detailed information about profanity, sexual content, violence and other notables.
It never fails. We mention something about having content reviews and someone says, "OH, you're one of THOSE people!"
And then I clinch my fists and remember that I'm trying to be a good person, and I say, "What kind of person is that?" (with a very polite smile on my face).
Then they say, "One of those people who want to keep books out of the hands of 'impressionable' children." *eyebrow raise*
And then I punch them. Ok, not really. Instead I say, "Why don't you find out exactly what it is we do and why before you decide." *smile*
And that's what this post is about.
So what do we do? And why?
When I first started reading Young Adult (Teen) Books, my oldest daughter was 13 years old. At the time, I wasn't a reader, and I had no idea about the content in teen books. I was completely oblivious. I had read Twilight, and loved it (don't judge) and spent the next few months scouring the teen library shelves for a book that would fill the void Twilight left behind. The more I read, the more surprised I was by what I was reading. I just had no clue. Like most parents, I assumed (no assume jokes!) that if it was in the teen section, it would be appropriate for my teen. Well, that was definitely wrong. Now, I know, every person parents differently, and has the right to decide what her child reads, but for me, over 30 "F" words and descriptive sexual relationships were not what I wanted my 13-year-old reading. Not even close. But this book I picked up was sitting on the shelf right next to Anne of Green Gables (no, not literally, but you get my point).
How was I, as a mom, supposed to know if a book was something I wanted my child to be reading? Even if I was okay with her reading all of that, I would still want to know she was reading it, so that I could talk to her about what she was absorbing. There's no label on the books, there's no mention of what is in them, and there's really no way to find out. So, I started reading books before giving them to my daughter. Luckily, I had already found that I love Young Adult books, so this wasn't quite as taxing as it could have been.
Over time, more and more moms would find out that I loved reading YA, and they would ask me, "Is this book ok for my (insert age)-year old?" I never felt comfortable making that decision for them, so I'd just tell them exactly what was in it, and let them make up their own minds. One day I just decided that I'd start writing it down on a simple Google website. I figured that if this many people were asking me in person, there must be more out there that are wondering the same thing. That's how Parental Book Reviews was born.
Since then, we have had a huge response to our content reviews. We've had teens who thank us because their parents wouldn't let them read a book until they found out that not all YA books have a lot of content in them. We've had other bloggers who just like to monitor what they themselves read, and will check with us before requesting or starting a new book. We've had parents and teens who ask that we read certain books for them, so they can know if it's a good fit for them. We've had those who are scared easily, and want to know if a book is too frightening or violent for their taste. The list goes on and on.
Do we believe in banning books? NOT AT ALL! Do we believe in one-size-fits-all parenting? Nope! We believe every individual needs to have the freedom to decide for themselves if a book is right for them or their child. We're just providing the information.
Have more questions about this, or anything else we do, or just want to tell us what you think? Leave us a comment!
*It's important to note, as well, that we love these books! We review based on the story and writing, not on the content. There have been many books that we have given 5 stars to, that have heavy content. We don't see it as our job to tell you what you should and shouldn't read. We give you the information to make an educated decision for yourself.