I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is: Content Ratings.
This is super interesting to me, because I’ve never really thought about content ratings not being used with publishing. They are used within movies, television and video games to help determine the appropriate audience. So, why not books?
Why do you think it is that books have no rating system to determine what is and isn’t appropriate?
Honestly, this is such a fun question! I’ve never thought of it before, like I mentioned. I have no idea why there isn’t a formalized content ratings system. Perhaps the “age range” of the book is meant to serve in a similar purpose? So they didn’t feel the need to create another system to narrow or clarify it even further? That’s the closest reason I can think of. Growing up, the book’s age range was definitely used at school to determine what was appropriate or not.
Should there be books that are kept out of the hands of children?
I mean, a child shouldn’t have access to books with graphic sex or violence, right? But, in this case, I think it makes more sense for the use of content warnings for books, rather than specific content ratings. To me, content ratings can be a little too vague and…strict, in a way? Like, at school, I had to fight to read books shelved in the “young adult” section when I was middle-schooler, despite reading at a higher level (because reading was my only hobby). Yet plenty of the books I checked out from my public library, I could handle, both content and reading level. Yet at school, there was never a clear answer of why I couldn’t read it.
If content warnings were widely implemented, however, I feel it’d be a lot easier. Instead of telling me I can’t read from an entire section of the library until I’m older, I could search by content warnings and avoid specific things I wasn’t ready for or not interested in.
Is it the responsibility of parents or should there be a standard book rating system to deem what’s appropriate?
This…is also complicated, to me. Perhaps it’s just me coming from a very sheltered childhood, but I don’t like the idea of anyone telling someone else what they can and cannot read. I do think parents and educators should be aware of what they promote or reject and pay attention to the whys.
Are you telling a child they cannot read a book because they are eight and it’s a YA book with known graphic sex scenes? Or because they’re a teenager and it features a queer couple and that’s against your views? Likewise, are your shelves diverse in topics, representation and the voices of the authors who wrote them?
I think those questions are more important to evaluate, personally. Especially when you’re in a position to shape someone’s reading experience at an early age. That, and not killing a love of reading by forcing students to read outdated, racist classics, but that’s a discussion for another day, loves. 💀
In sum, I think content ratings are interesting to consider, but content warnings serve a better and much more needed purpose! What about you? Was this topic as new a consideration to you as it was me or have you considered it before? What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!