Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Reading Lists, Book Ratings & Lolita

School is back in session (can I get a hallelujah?).
Do schools still hand out reading lists? I didn't know what books were required for my junior highers until the reports came due.
Here is a short list from last year:

The Outsiders
Edgar Allen Poe
To Kill A Mockingbird
Romeo and Juliet

Do you remember swear words in To Kill A Mockingbird? Yeah, me either.

I can't remember making distinction between YA and adult lit in high school. I think the books were mostly adult. Here are a few books I was FORCED to read in high school:

Lord of the Flies
Old Man and the Sea
Wuthering Heights
The Great Gatsby
Anne Frank
The Scarlett Letter
The Odyssey
The Iliad

Are they mostly adult??
The debate on YA being dark might be accurate. The books I had to read in school were dark and adult themed. Many of the above books are still on school lists. Why isn't anyone complaining about those?

My daughter read the Twilight series in less than a week. Tons of her friends read them and she wanted to try. These books made my non-reader a reader. They also opened dialogue between us about abstinence, what to expect from a relationship with a boy (none are perfect like Edward and Jacob) and "why would a LDS person put swear words and other bad stuff in her books?"

A friend told me about his boy's reading list. He had read many of the books on the list. One he hadn't read was Lolita. He looked up the reviews and concluded it wasn't a book he wanted his son to read quite yet.
Another book on the list was Catcher in the Rye. My friend remembered the story being important from his high school career. He found a copy on his shelf and gave it to his son to read. His son came back a few hours later and asked his dad if he remembered all the "f" words, sex and drugs in the book. Of course, he hadn't.

"I mentioned my son and his experience with Catcher in the Rye. He did finish the book - in fact, we read it together. He read it and we talked about the issues and loneliness that can pop up on a young man, even when that young man thinks everything is great. I think, wait, I know we are both stronger for it. As for reading Lolita - I'm not sure about that one yet. I think there is more uplifting lit out there that he could read first. Time will tell."
What if those books had a rating on them or a review to help parents know what content is inside? I don't believe this is censorship. My kids usually check ratings on movies and games as well as reviews. Why not on books?

This is from Rick Walton:

"I think we all, as parents, readers, writers, teachers, editors, whatever, have a responsibility to first do no harm, and second to try to do good. But people are so different, and their needs are so different, that what is good for one is not good for another. Doesn't mean that because it's not good for one it should be done away with. But rather, that almost everything is for somebody, and nothing is for everyone. And we have the responsibility to connect with our kids so they can make the right decisions for themselves. And so we can help them understand what they run across.

It also means that we as parents have the right and responsibility to help guide our children in what they are exposed to. And how they understand it. But we must also allow others the same right, even if their choices differ from ours. Because their children differ from ours."

On my book review, The Book Addict, I do give ratings for books I've read. I want other readers to not be surprised when they read a book. At least with a little idea what's inside, the reader can choose to open the book or not.

What do you think about book ratings? School reading lists?

I added some links I thought you might enjoy:

 YA Lit, and Why Everyone Should Read It

Should Books Have A Rating System?

On Darkness in YA by Rachelle Gardner


Alice said...

I'd appreciate book ratings. I typically read what my kids read, just so I know what they're reading, but I don't always know ahead of time when I check out books what they'll be like. It would be nice to know what sort of content is in them before I or my kids read them.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for stopping back to my blog and following.