Thursday, August 25, 2005

Librarian Says Teen Magazines Inform Girls of Racy Chapter Books

While at my town’s library yesterday, I checked their catalogue to see if they had any of the racy books that I have been reading about and blogging about. The only ones I found were some of the “Gossip Girls” series. I decided to check the first book out and to read it for myself to see what it is really like.

The librarian, who knows I have two young boys and that it was not for them, asked me if I would share my opinion with her after I read it. She stated that more and more girls are asking the librarians about the racy books. They want to read them, but most are not in the library’s collection.

The librarian commented that the girls are learning of the racy books by reading magazines for teenaged girls. She said they learn of them and then come to the library looking to borrow the book.

She shared the method she uses with her children, one of whom is 13. They can only read books whose characters are the same age as her. She felt this has worked well in the past. I then shared that some of the characters in Rainbow Party were young. This makes the issue even more complicated, frustrating, and disturbing!

This librarian is concerned, as I am, of inappropriate, detailed sexual content of these books being published as juvenile literature. She is thinking about starting some kind of community rating system, which could be used as a tool by the parents. She mentioned the challenge that everyone seems to be talking to me about lately, that is how a parent is supposed to know what the content of the books is, and how previewing the book is not always possible. I am not sure what her ideas are but the general idea is appealing. I mentioned that right now, parents could read the Amazon customer reviews to see if they mention certain topics. I, however, agree that there is not always a source to pinpoint the issues. For example, it would be nice to know at a quick glance if a book contains detailed descriptions of sexual acts, or if profanity is used, if drug use is portrayed, illegal alcohol consumption by minors, etc.

Now this has me wondering if it would be helpful for books to have rating system as TV shows and movies do! If this ever does come to pass, I’d like to know specifics not just an overall rating. I don’t like the current movie rating system as much of what is in PG movies, I feel is inappropriate for my children, even though many parents choose to show these movies to children as young as one year old (i.e. Shrek, Shrek 2, Madagascar).

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