Thursday, March 28, 2013

Booking Through Thursday - Rating

Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?
 Yes, sort of.

I like the descriptive type of rating system better than the "G, PG, PG-13, R" type. I, as a general rule, do not watch certain types of movies. But my choices usually have less to do with the letter rating and more to do with the content, my own sense of humor, my propensity for vivid bad dreams, and so forth.

Similarly, for our kids, we've never said, "Thou shalt not watch a PG-13 movie until thou reachest the age of 13."

Some of our children might be ready before that for certain movies (I'm not sure if we'll make Polly wait that long to watch Lord of the Rings, for instance) and some PG-13 movies are a colossal waste of viewing time even if you've already reached the magic age of 13.

All that to say, I care more about the content and why something is rated a certain way. Is there graphic violence? Bad language (and what kind)? Intimate scenes? Is it portraying something that is historically accurate but violent?

You see: lots of questions and movie ratings don't always help with those. (And, P.S. so called "kids' movies" are not always the safe bets that parents think. My worst nightmares as a young child came after watching The Wizard of Oz. We weren't going to show it to our girls until they got older. Someone else -without checking with us first- did. That's not really how I would have preferred that to happen. And yes, at least one of my children has inherited my vivid imagination / prone to bad dreams combo. We are very careful about what she / they watch.)

But I do wish kids' books came with some type of content warning. I'd like to know, for example, if the main characters swear, lie to their parents, smoke or do drugs with no consequences, or other things like that. And it's not just kids' books. I sometimes wish that books for adults were a little more clear on what type of content you might encounter inside. Just so I could make a reasoned guess as to whether it would be worth it or how much skimming I might have to do. (Example: my husband ordered a fan written sequel to North and South for me for Christmas. It turned out to be your basic romance novel - complete with heaving bosoms and what not - just with the characters I love inserted. I couldn't even read the whole thing so I sent it back. This has happened with Austen fan sequels as well. Some are fantastic and some are written by people just trying to make a buck off Jane's name.)

Now that Polly & Tigger are older and reading voraciously on their own, I rely on reviews I've read online and books I've read myself (or that my husband has read). They are not allowed to check out books that I know nothing about. They don't necessarily like this rule. If there's something they really want to read and I know nothing about it, they can ask me to check it out and pre-read it for them. I'm a quick reader and this would not be a major hardship. Neither one has availed herself of this option yet.

I do ask them questions about what they're reading. Everyone in this family loves books and reading (even the two who can't read independently yet) so books, plots, characters, and writing styles are common topic of conversation around here.

My other problem with a rating system would be: who, exactly, is doing the rating? 'Cause that would matter.

What about you? Have you ever wished for a book rating system?
This post is linked to Booking Through Thursday.


DawnTreader said...

I never thought about it before which must mean I never missed it.

Melissa Owens said...

I agree with a lot of your points -- particularly as I consider what I will want my daughter reading once she is older. I'm less for an age-based rating and more for a specific content rating... My full response, as well as some extended discussion in the comments, can be found here.

Lisa said...

When I was looking through the kids books at Target, I noticed a book called 'This Is Not My Hat'. The first lines are “This hat is not mine; I just stole it". Um, no. Roman will not be reading that. Did I menion it's a kids book? ;)

Deb said...

I might want a rating system in theory, but in reality my own pickinesses are too individual for a rating system to be useful. I find the Amazon ratings to be very helpful, especially with kids' books, because if I read enough of them, I can generally find someone who addresses anything I might be concerned about. I suppose one that I would appreciate on any level would be something that lets me know if science books mention evolution at all, because that topic is a deal breaker for me.

Lisa - I totally respect your opinion, because I am extremely picky about what I allow in my babies' minds, but we have This Is Not My Hat, and I think it is an adorable book. The little hat-robber does not get away with stealing the hat in the end, and I do make sure and get in all those messages about stealing being wrong. The end is rather open, so that leaves room for conversation. Just my two cents.

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