Hello everyone and welcome back to another Let’s Talk Bookish – the weekly bookish meme every Friday hosted by the lovely Rukky @ Eternity Reads and Dani @ Literary Lion. I’m one day late for this post – oops! But this week’s topic is so interesting and I have so much to say on it that I decided to go ahead and post it anyway 🙂 I’ve actually done a post on content warnings previously, which you can see here.
To give a short answer, yes, I 100% think that books should have content ratings. I think the reason that books may not have a content rating system to determine what is and isn’t appropriate in contrast to movies and TV shows, is that books are classed in genres such as Adult, New Adult, YA, MG and Children’s anyway – however, I think there is a need for there to be content ratings within these sections, specifically within YA and MG. It may not be necessary to include it in adult books, but I think when it comes to determining appropriate material for children and teenagers, it should exist.
I think the YA genre in particular – and I have mentioned this many times before – contains way too much sexual and graphic content. “YA” itself is quite ambiguous when it comes to what age group that consists of. Is it from 13 right up to 18? Because even though it is only a 5 years difference, I can assure you there is a world of a difference between me and my 13 year old brother – we are at completely different levels and stages of our maturity (obviously) and as a result we certainly do not read the same books. However, we may both fit in with the YA genre in terms of our ages?
Sensitive material including graphic sex scenes, rape and suicide should not be freely available to any child or teenager, and these are all freely incorporated into countless YA books that are classed as appropriate for people who are still young and may not have been exposed to such material before. I certainly think that there should be books kept out of the hands of children, for example, a book such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” does not belong anywhere near a child or young teenager, in my opinion (actually, personally, I think it doesn’t belong near anyone – but that’s besides the point… for adults who are old enough to make their own decisions, that’s entirely different).
Whilst parents undoubtedly have a responsibility to be aware of the books that their children are reading, it is very easy for children to go behind their parent’s backs and check a book out at the library or even read it online. To have a standard book rating system that is implemented in schools and libraries would be ideal, however, the issue is coming to a general consensus as to what is universally appropriate for certain age groups – this is ultimately subjective and varies across different people’s belief systems and also individual differences such as maturity and personal experiences. With that being said, I do think this can be combated by publishers disclosing the amount of sexual content included and whether the book includes content that is usually accepted (I understand this too can be subjective) to be potentially sensitive and disturbing, such as rape and suicide. I do also recognise that there may be an endless list of things that certain people may personally find “triggering” and so it is unfeasible to accommodate to all of these. But I think at least including the few things I have mentioned as a warning in MG and YA books, would be a good start in the right direction, and certainly would have saved me as a young teen a lot of headache in trying to find a good YA book without sexual content.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree/disagree? Do you think a standard book rating system would ultimately be impractical and restricting, or do you think it would be the perfect way to cater towards reading material for teenagers and children… or are you in-between?