Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do You Know What Your Children Are Reading?

I came across a blog post the other day that was asking readers to weigh in on kids and teens reading books originally targeted for adults.

My first thought was a memory, long forgotten. The library we used when I was a kid had different cards for kids and grown-ups. But parents could sign a portion of the card so their child could read anything in the library. I was so proud of that signature. I felt so empowered because I could check out anything I wanted.

In principle, I still love the idea and would probably sign something for my own child if I had to. But, as the parent, I have to live with the questions or the nightmares that can come up if I don't pay attention to what my son reads. That's why I have added some sections to my book reviews where I note if there is foul language or adult situations in the book and where I give my opinion about the appropriate reader for the book.

To me, the responsibility ultimately falls to the parents to know what their kids are reading. One of my favorite things to do is to talk to kids about books. One of my fears, though, is that a parent will come back to me, appalled that I recommended one book or another because of something the student found inside it. I can only do the best I can, sharing my opinions and cautions. Sometimes a story is so good, I get caught up and don't notice the swear words, etc. My hope is that parents will engage WITH their kids about what they are reading.

Let me share a personal example. My family has read the Harry Potter series together. We have gotten through book five (with some editing) with my son who is in second grade. He has a friend at school who reportedly has read the whole series (and has seen the movies out to date). I know my son is frustrated that we won't read the rest; he wants to know how everything works out. And it is tempting to give in and read the last two books. But I am his parent, not his buddy. I have to use my best judgment to decide where the line falls. And I think there are parts of the final two books which are too dark for a second grader - or at least my second grader. I take my role as a parent - and as a book advocate - seriously.

So, what do YOU think? Do you know what your kids are reading? Do you care if they are reading things written for an older audience?


  1. I absolutely agree. I know the Twilight books are marketed for "teens", and that several people I know have let their 11 and 12 yr. olds read them. Having read them, I find that quite disconcerting. Personally, I feel they are inappropriate for that age range. Guess I am old fashioned. :)

  2. Here is an article I ran across that references parental responsibility about reading material for kids.