Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Age appropriate books

I have always been an advocate for children to choose their own books when it comes to Reading for Pleasure but I think it is very important to set guidelines. Like movies and TV shows books also come with age recommendations. In the KIWI Centre we have books classified as the following.
  • Picture Books
  • Early Fiction
  • Junior Fiction
  • Middle Fiction
  • Senior Fiction
  • Tween Fiction ( selectively picked Young Adult)
It is always fun watching the students progression from picture books to early fiction, almost like they now have the licence to their reading future. From there it is a natural progression but also a time that needs guidance especially for those students reading above their age level. There are so many factors taken into consideration when putting a recommended age on a book.
  • The fear factor  ( children's sensitivities) 
  • The maturity factor (and comprehension level)
  • The age factor (issues, content, language)
I have found a good rule of thumb is looking at the age of the main character. Although your 9 year old maybe reading at a 13 year old level would you want them reading about teen issues. I think the Harry Potter series is a great example. This series has a age recommendation of 9-12 but in the first book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry is 11 and 17 by the final book. Not only does Harry get older but the content gets darker. As for Harry Potter and the cursed child, Harry has become a father..... say no more.

The age factor of a book on the whole is an issue for advanced young readers, especially girls. In senior fiction social interactions become a major plot point, whether it is mean girls, crushes on boys, bad language or other things you may not wish to expose your child to. For example would you want your 7 year old who is reading at a 11 year old level reading about these subjects. This is why I ask parents not to discourage your young reader from reading a book that is below their reading level. Remember judging a book by it's page count or the number of illustrations it contains can eliminate many wonderful books that you and your child should experience. 

In summery choosing age appropriate books for your child is just as important as choosing what movies they watch and what they are allowed to access online. Please also note I always do my best to recommend age appropriate books to your child from our collection. We do have a small collection of early young adult fiction which are chosen with care and only able to be read by Year 7-8 students. Young Adult books are written for a target audience of 13+ which is why it is such a minefield for primary Librarians and parents alike. This section of books is housed in the adult section of the town Library which says a lot. Maybe a great blog post in the future. I am in no way suggesting your child should not read Harry Potter. My suggestion is that you read the first two books in the series aloud to your under 10 then introduce the lovely illustrated books for them to read independently. 
My motto is 'The RIGHT book for the RIGHT child at the RIGHT time.
A great site for reviews and age ratings for books and much more is Common Sense Media


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