Should books come with ratings?

I had a discussion the other day with my ten-year old. To save you some time, I’ll summarize a bit: she really wants to read my new upcoming book, but I told her it wasn’t made for her age group and she asked me, ‘Well, what’s it rated? Because you’ve let me watch some PG13 stuff.’ After I stared at her long enough to make us both feel weird, I answered, ‘You know…I’m not sure.’

And it got me thinking. I know that all books have genres and some sales outlets require a warning if your book is inappropriate for minors…but would a rating system actually work? The more I thought about this, the more I kind of liked it as a reader – and a parent. You see, my ten-year old is very aware that the Hunger Games trilogy is technically a YA book…but she is not allowed to read it yet. Can a YA book have a rating of PG13 or even R? I think it could. The Hunger Games is definitely not a PG rated story.

So I took a glance at my bookshelf and loosely labeled each book with a ‘rating’. No surprise to me, most were rated R. That’s what I read, I suppose. Aside from the books I have from my childhood, the majority are riddled with violence, gore, bad language and yes, sex. In fact, my entire Find Me series would most definitely qualify an R rating, I’m sure. My Station series – hmmm…PG13?

What is your take on the subject? If books had ratings – do you think it would make picking the right titles for you and your children easier…or more time-consuming? Or, when it comes to books, do you simply not care what it would be rated? While you chew on those questions for a bit, I have to add something – I don’t think a system like this would be implemented any time soon. It would be a massive challenge for book distributors to ensure each book was under the proper rating. But hey, the idea itself (though not unique, I know it’s been talked about before) is slightly cool to me.

Happy reading, friends!

13 thoughts on “Should books come with ratings?

  1. Shawna says:

    I think when my kids are older and start reading past the obviously 2nd grade level books, maybe it would be nice. Then again if the book is in the school library, I would just blindly assume it is ok for the age level of my kids.

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  2. Benjamin Kelly says:

    I would love for the publishing industry and booksellers to adopt a uniform, industry wide rating system, just like the movie industry. Much of what I write is not appropriate for minors. I always worry that my books might wind up in front of young eyes. Some booksellers use heat ratings but there’s no standard across the board. Amazon doesn’t even list the rating my publisher applies to my books. It would give me peace of mind to have a big fat ‘R’ rating pop up beside my racier books. With a standard rating system, adult books could easily be placed into an ‘adults only’ section on booksellers sites or filtered out of a web search.

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    • trishmarie says:

      I definitely think this would help for the reasons you stated. Plus, for me, it would also help me sift through what I want to read faster. I would bee-line right to the R ratings. LOL Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Shannon Bereza says:

    This is so weird because I was actually discussing this with my son last week when we had to drive all over looking for a book because of course for school he needed one from a specific author and that author doesn’t publish in electronic form. As we were going through Barnes and Noble we of course had to pick up some other books cuz we were there and what a waste if we walked out with nothing. My son is only 8 and a half but he is a really great reader for his age and saying no was difficult on some books because even though they were in the kids/teen section they were still a little too old for him. I wish there was some sort of grading scale. One that was’t just G, PG, PG-13, and R. Maybe a few more added in there. Just my opinion but it sure would make things easier when trying to buy books for your kids who love to read.

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    • trishmarie says:

      I agree! Our school facilitator told me once not to let my daughter skip ahead too far, as she’ll never go back and read the younger age groups. But it’s hard when they like to read. 😉

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  4. Amanda alberson says:

    I think the rating system would be great. I know when my daughter was in 3rd or 4th grade they had a reading program that could have used it. Because her reading abilities were so good they were giving her 7th and 8th grade books. She read War Horse and cried for a week!

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  5. Erin says:

    I think it would be great. I have noticed a lot of books labeled with age when doing for my niece and nephews and it’s a huge help! I think I’m with youand most of my books works get an R rating tho.

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  6. ellamedler says:

    Hmmm… I must be the one to buck the trend. There were no ratings when I was reading full-time through the day – forget school! That was boring – and though I had children’s books in my room – enough to keep me in reading material for years, guess what I sneaked up to my parents’ bedroom to read? Yeah, you guessed it. Well, the school librarian wasn’t gonna let me borrow THAT kind of book, was it?! LOL.

    Kids will be kids. If they want to read something, a stamp on the cover won’t stop them. Sometimes I think this generation is overly protected. They need to know what life is like, and they need to learn how to cope with emotions. Now that they are at home, and you can help them make sense of their thoughts. Because they will fly the nest at some point, and it will be much harder FOR THEM to learn all about the world in one go and by themselves. Think about it. Avoid awkward now, or give them the tools to cope?

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