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Wow, there are so many arguments for each side of this issue. I think any sort of rating system would have to be very carefully done to be effective, but I worry that it's not a good idea. Even though there are countless books that contain smut that I wouldn't read myself, stories can be a great way for younger readers to learn about certain "adult topics" as opposed to movies which I think are harsher because of their visual format. As a child and later as a teenager I encountered things in books that I didn't fully understand (for example foreign customs, racism, rape, etc.) but I was able to discuss them with my mom. Although there would have been no way for my mom to read every book I and all my siblings read, she asked us about what books we were reading and we talked about them. I don't ever remember her forbidding me to read anything. Instead we discussed issues of right and wrong, and why it's a good idea to avoid certain kinds of books and movies. Beyond that, I was free to make my own decisions. I knew what she thought and for me, that was enough. On occassion I chose books that she probably didn't approve of or were at a level to mature for me but that was rare and honestly, I usually didn't understand them anyway. I agree that certain ratings would turn parents off of books and in turn make some kids want to read them even more. I know a 12 year old girl who loves the Twilight books but she was only allowed to read the first two. Her mom said she had to wait a few years before reading the third and fourth. After explaining all of this to me she didn't hesitate to add "I've read the first half of my friend's copy of the third book even though my mom doesn't know." I don't really blame her mom for wanting her to hold off on those books, they do have more mature content than the others but it made me wonder what I would do if I was the mother. As this example shows, parents can't really control what their kids read anyway so wouldn't it be better to discuss some of these issues rather than them sneaking around and trying to figure it all out based on their limited knowledge of mature topics? Not to mention their friends' limited knowlege. I remember a friend of mine telling me what sex was when we were in elementary school. She was way off, but thank goodness I had a mother who talked to me about life issues and who I felt comfortable to go to with questions about these things. My point is this: A rating system (if done properly) could possibly be a helpful starting point for some people but a child having a trusting relationship with a good parent is far more valuable and effective in protecting and educating kids. Easier said than done I guess, but there it is.
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Jun 5, 2010