Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rating System for Books

Would you want your book to have a “rating” on the cover? Sort of like the ratings on movies – G, PG, PG13, R, X (is there an X rating?).

I’m talking books for children here. At least, so far, that’s where the discussion centers. The United Kingdom has been considering labeling children’s books with age-bandings.

According to the paper The Scotsman, though, they’ve run into a bit of a snag. Authors aren’t happy about the prospect of kids (and parents) being told which books are appropriate for which age group.

Phillip Pullman, best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy said:
“Declaring that a book is for any group in particular means excluding every other group, and I don’t want to exclude anybody”
Now, they’ve gotten support from the superstar JK Rowling. She’s signed an online petition against the idea.
The petition’s supporters also contend that printing age ranges on books would threaten literacy levels. Reluctant readers or those with dyslexia, for example, might easily be embarrassed if caught with books clearly labelled as being aimed at much younger readers.
Despite the protests of writers, age banding is already underway:
… award-winning Edinburgh-based writer Keith Gray launches his latest novel, Ostrich Boys. Like any writer, he is aiming for as wide a readership as possible, from children aged around 11 or 12 to adults.

To his dismay, his publishers have insisted that the cover exclude most of these readers with just one word. “Teens”, it proclaims in print – not even on a removable sticker.

“Would those queues for Harry Potter have been so long if the books had had a ‘Teens’ sticker?”
What do you think about this idea?


  1. I'm somewhat ambivalent about this. I can certainly see how putting a specific age range on the book could limit the readership. On the other hand, people buying books for children may appreciate some guidance of who might be an appropriate audience. Toys are usually marked with an age range, which makes it much easier for someone buying a toy as a gift - buying a toy that appeals to toddlers for a pre-teen wouldn't be good. While a broad range - teens to adults - might be helpful, it might be the first step toward more restrictive labeling.

    See, I said I'm ambivalent!

  2. Hi Lillie.

    I see what you mean...no, I don't ... yeah, actually ... just kidding. I understand the ambivalence. As a parent, you want to know that you're buying a book appropriate for your child's age. And, really, a writer wants to write the same thing -- a book that's appropriate for the age group s/he's aiming for as a reader. But writers also don't want their readership limited by a third party coming between the writer and the reader.

    I'm like you, I worry about the restrictions such a labeling could place on books.

  3. Interesting reading. I’ve recently discovered Bayard’s Books which seem to have the right mix of education and fun : StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks, DiscoveryBoxBooks Also, I see they have a guest illustrator for one of their stories in the September edition of Storybox - award winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury, who also provided illustrations for Alice in Wonderland.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...