Kids, Books, and Censorship, Oh My!

Kids, Books, & CensorshipI went to the public library with my kids the other day. It’s one of my favorite places—the smell, the hushed reverence, and oh the books. Glorious books!

But I have an increasing frustration, not with the library, but with finding age-appropriate books that would also fill the school’s requirements for difficulty-level, inclusion in computer-generated tests, etc.

I feel like I am lacking a specialized degree in book selection.

I’m amazed at what levels my first-grade son is required to achieve, even when compared to what his big sister did just a few years ago.

It’s incredible. But along with the chapter-book-reading first graders comes an increasingly bigger issue—how do we find age appropriate, challenging, engaging books for our kids? If they’re reading what used to be a second grade book in early first grade, what happens when they’re in fifth grade?

I’m fully aware that I’m rather protective when it comes to my child’s mind, but I think we can all agree that a ten-year-old shouldn’t be reading what is meant for a sixteen-year-old.

Despite what we may have been told, what our kids read matters.

Psychologists warn of some serious issues when kids are exposed to sexual content at an early age. This article and research from Psychology Today (http://bit.ly/1yvlpQh) is just one of many to confirm the concern.

And really, does my ten-year-old need to be reading, “Oh my G**”? Or consistently hearing about how stupid parents (and fathers in particular) are? Hearing these words and attitudes repeatedly normalizes them, making them seem okay. Good even.

But really, do I want my child saying, doing, thinking these things?

Is it what you want your child saying, doing, thinking? Or do you want better for them?

My ultimate hope would be for the publishing industry to catch up, to wake up and realize there’s a market they’re missing. To a degree, I’m an industry insider, though my publishing house doesn’t produce much in the way of early readers, juvenile, or teen books. I would hope that those that do would begin producing more difficult material for a younger audience that is appropriate for their age.

But really folks, we can’t and shouldn’t trust others to monitor what our kids read or watch.

That’s what parents are for, protecting their kids and slowly equipping them with the tools to be able to fend for themselves. Just keep in mind that studies show a child’s brain isn’t fully developed until twenty-five (http://n.pr/18Bzqo9). You read that right. TWENTY-FIVE.

(I was married at twenty-one, so I do take that number with a grain of salt, but it’s good to keep in mind that our young teens still need our advice and guidance.)

I’m not advocating for censorship or previewing our twenty-five-year-old’s reading list, but I am suggesting we use discretion and not allow other people to tell us what’s good for our own kids.

After all, who knows your child better than you?

But what’s an informed mom to do? Read every 500-page book her child wants to read?

I don’t have time for that and neither do you. So here are just two thoughts to find get books. They’re things you can do, but they’re things your kids can learn to do too:

  1. Get recommendations from like-minded friends.
  2. Online sources

These sites have reviews that include reference to sexual content, language, violence, etc. Most of them just tell you what’s there and let you make the decision.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org (this one will give you suggestions based on age and there’s an app your kids can use too)
http://www.dove.org
http://www.pluggedin.com

Where and how do you draw the line for what your kids read? What are some of your favorite ways to find reading material for your kids?

3 thoughts on “Kids, Books, and Censorship, Oh My!

  1. I believe there is a more basic underlying problem which is in our current priority of social concerns – your statement “These sites have reviews that include reference to sexual content, language, violence, etc…”
    Might we accomplish more if the mindset were to read: “These sites have reviews that include reference to violence, language, sexual content, etc. …” Subtle difference I know, but subjects are beautiful, until influenced by the ugly.

    1. You are absolutely right. So much of the evil in our world is beauty corrupted. Thanks for making the distinction.

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