Friday, August 3, 2012

YA Rating System- Friend or Foe?

Before you read this, please be aware that this post is purely to get conversation happening; hopefully causing some deep thinking too.  I do not speak for anyone but me. Feel free to disagree with me, in fact I encourage it:)

There are quite a few advocates for rating teen books, while many are opposed to this. I will admit that I am TOTALLY against any form of rating system for YA books. Why? Because I believe that there already is a rating system in place. Children's books are for little kids. Middle Grade books are for ages 7-12. YA books are for teens 13-18. New Adult, which is a relatively new category, is for those 18-25. Adult is for those 21-up. So this begs the question: why even discuss rating YA books?

Well, the term YA really means books that are geared for teens in the age range of 13-18. Proponents for book ratings argue that content and language in a particular book may not be appropriate for the younger end of the YA spectrum. Those who feel strongly about book ratings feel that age restrictions should be based on the following: level of profanity, violence, sexual content and drug/alcohol use. Those of us who are against book ratings do so because of the censorship implications.

It comes down to this--rating a book is a form of censorship. One that has the potential to change books and reading as we know it for good. How long did it take to stop book burning and banning? Oh, that's right! It still happens in the year 2012! Crazy right? John Green's Looking for Alaska has recently been banned from many schools because of content. A magazine recently refused to print a review about Lisa Burstein's Pretty Amy because the main character smoked pot. This is something that the main character is punished for and changes her behavior. Actually a book with a GOOD message!
I think it comes down to this: some parents make very poor choice when it comes to what they allow their children to watch, play and read. For example, allowing a 5 year old to play the Playstation game Grand Theft Auto is ludicrous, but it happens. There are no laws in place for stupidity; although I really wish there were. There is no one out there who can change what parents allow their own children to do. No book ban or rating system will keep 50 Shades of Grey out of the hands of kids if the parents aren't watching and talking to their kids.

What do you all think? Should there be a YA rating system? How would books be rated if this did happen (for example counting the amount of f-bombs)?

For more information, check out this article:


  1. Hey Nicole! Just checked out your website for the first time and finally realized what YA stands for!! Young Adult!! Why it took me so long to get that, I'm not sure, but anyway, in response to your blog, I think that maybe a rating system would be beneficial especially for the young adult category, only because 13 year olds are so different from 18 year olds. And because one 18 year old can be so different from another 18 year old as far as what they've experienced... It could be helpful to both parents, teachers and teens to know what age the book is aimed for and also what they can expect from the book as far as profanity, talk of sex, drugs... I think for some teens, being able to read and relate to these subjects is their motive to read them, but for others, they may not be ready for such heady issues.

    Anna Goetz

  2. As a parent I do want to know if the book addresses social issues, if there is sex or drug use in the book. I wouldn't necessarily forbid my child to read it because of the content, but I would most certainly be more involved in their processing the content of the book. But I handle PG-13 movies the same way. I love review sites for this specific reason. If I can't read the book myself, I rely on reviews to alert me to any of these issues so I know to follow up with my child. Rating system? I think we've got one.

  3. Really interesting topic. I've got a voracious reader in my house, so I can relate to the idea that kids might get their hands on books we're not ready for them to read. That said, I firmly believe the scale we're already using is enough. Parents NEED to be the ones who vet their kids reading habits.