age-banding books

There are two things I want to start off with:

1. When I was 13 I wrote a story that horrified my teacher. In fact, she was horrified by the whole class, a big fuss was made and we were all told to write about more appropriate things from then on.

2. I hate picking up library book after library book to discover that what was pretending to be fantasy is really just erotica in disguise. When I was 14 I accidentally read a book with a graphic rape scene and I found it quite disturbing. I also would have liked some warning that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was way more violent than the back cover indicated.

Moving on.

I agree with the vast majority of people involved in chidren’s fiction when they say that age-banding is ridiculous. You don’t want to lock kids into a set “reading bracket”. But it would be nice if everyone could choose the level of gore they want when they want. At the very least it would be nice to get a warning so you can prepare your mind.

In Sylvia’s perfect world we would put a little sticker on the back of every book with the checkboxes:

  • Violence
  • Sex
  • Sexual violence

That way everyone would have a greater level of autonomy regarding their reading choices.

Now I know this wouldn’t work in real life. Many children would be stopped from reading a book just because it had violence in it. Many parents would kick up a ruckus if a book with subtle sexual innuendo wasn’t tagged with sex. But I can dream, okay?