My Catchphrases

Monday, 4 October 2010

MG Monday: Restricting Reading

I don't want anyone to think I am jumping on the band wagon here. I just wanted to post my response to Lauren from I was a Teenage Book Geek as it would have taken up way too much space in the comment box.

Lauren did a most amazing post on Saturday regarding parents restricting their children's reading, read it here.

Firstly, let me state I do not agree with restricting reading in anyway. You have to consider that parents will know their children far better than anyone else and in that respect should have some input into what/what not their children should read. With that in mind:

Meet my children here.

My 10 year old is a voracious reader. She adores Twilight (yes, I have let her watch the movie) but I will not let here read the books (YET). I have explained to her that I do not think she is ready for the emotional intensity emanating from within the pages of Twilight. That in order for her to fully appreciate the books I would like her to wait a little bit. The suggested age I gave her was when she starts secondary school (making her approximately 12). As I explained this was for her benefit, she was quite happy to agree.

With Twilight in mind, I was quite shocked that in my library the series is restricted in age groups allowed to borrow it. The age group concerned includes the one I told my daughter would be the correct age to appreciate it. I enquired as to why there had been restrictions placed on the borrowing of Twilight. *I bet you are wondering too*. Apparently, there were complaints by a parent a few years ago regarding the content (what content) stating it was unsuitable for their child??? They even complained to the press!!! I would have asked them if they had read the book themselves in order to make that call. I agree that some children/young adults vary greatly in their emotionally maturity but to make a school restrict it for all of that age groups seem a bit of an over-reaction. Now, I have to tell any Year 7 & 8 that wants to borrow it, that they will need a note from their parent/guardian before I can let them have it. I do state that I do not understand it but I have to follow the regulations exactly the same as they do. To be honest it makes me feel really stupid having to enforce this restriction.

Another example of restricting reading with my own children involves my gorgeous middle girl (here). She is 8. The 10 year old loves scary stories especially Goosebumps she absolutely raves about them. So she persuaded her sister to read them. Believe we when I say they are like chalk and cheese, lol. Needless to say, she had nightmares after reading one book. Therefore, I have asked her not to read anymore of them in order to prevent nightmares. She completely agreed. I think this is fair. Do you agree????

One final thing regarding the 10 year old. We picked Timeriders up in the local library, when she got home and started reading it, she came back downstairs shortly after. She said "I don't think you want me to read t his Mum' 'Why?' 'Because it has some bad words in it' 'OK, you can read it if you want to but I don't want to hear you say those words.' 'No, I am not happy to read them at the moment, maybe when I am a bit older'.

I remember way back when I was a teenager I read some really trashy stuff, you know the type of thing Lace, millions of Jackie Collins. Compulsory reading at the time, lol. So who am I to restrict what my children read.

My advice; if you are concerned about the things your children read - read them yourself and discuss the points as to why you think it is unsuitable reading. You cant just restrict their reading without giving valid reasons, believe me this will just encourage them to read the banned stuff even more; encouraging them to keep secrets and behave furtively. I would rather have an open and honest relationship with my children, in the hope that they could discuss anything with me. Even come to me for book suggestions.

I hope I have made my position on restricting reading coherent. In a nutshell: if you have valid reasons for restricting a particular book and can explain to your child the reasons behind it - then fair enough. However, if you are just restricting the reading because of other peoples opinions and do not have the insight to be able to explain the ban succinctly - then think again.


  1. While I wouldn't personally stop my daughter from reading anything she was interested in I do understand your thoughts on better appreciating books when at the correct reading age. My friend has a daughter who is a precocious reader and had asked my advice on Twilight in particular. I, like you, suggested that the girl might get more out of it when she was a little older but that it wouldn't do her any harm to read it now. However, I qualified this by suggesting that the mother also read it in order to discuss any messages that she felt might confuse/be inappropriate (like why having an anally-retentive, controlling boyfriend may not be the most romantic thing in the world). I really like that your own daughter is very clear on what she is and isn't comfortable reading - that shows real level-headedness and understanding.

  2. This is really interesting, and you've made some great points. I have to say I really like the way you've approached these conversations with your kids, involving them in decisions. It completely avoids the whole you-ban-the-book-and-your-kids-sneaks-a-copy situation too.

    I think the strange thing with Twilight is so many mums *have* read it. And since we all bring our own life experiences to the books we read, they're quite possibly seeing the books as 'racier' than a twelve year old would. I think that's a mistake.

    Out of interest, what would you do if one of your kids really dug their heels in about wanting to read a book you didn't think they were ready for?

  3. Thats a really good question Lauren. I have been thinking really hard about it *brain hurts* I dont think there is much I wouldnt approve of. If I really dug my heels in I think that would just make them want to read it more.
    I have to say I dont particularly want them reading trashy novels that give the wrong perspective about sex. But then I would have to explain that to them and then probably let them read it as they are only going to be more intruiged. LOL

  4. I think you've taken an excellent approach with books, by having great conversations with your kids and it sounds as though you're making the choices together.

    Also, how awful about the parental consent in your library.

  5. Yep, I can't imagine *not* wanting to do anything my parents told me I couldn't when I was a teenager. It's tricky. Maybe you need to tell them Jackie Collins is awesome and they can feel free to read everything she's ever written. Reverse psychology. :D


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