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)?