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How to deal with age-appropriate reading material?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
We're bibliophiles at our house, and we have books everywhere. Well, DS1 is starting to want to read our books. Last night we found him reading Ender's Game to DS2. Before that, I had caught him reading David Edding's The Belgariad series. DS1 will be five at the end of this month. DS2 is 20 months. We don't have a problem with him reading stuff like Patrick McManus (which is a bunch of funny stories about camping), but we can't restrict all our books nor do we have a place to put them away. Do we just tell him those are books for when he's older?

The boys share a room and he has a bookcase full of books in his room, but chapter books (and adult books) aren't allowed in there because DS2 is still in the ripping pages out of books phase. Any advice/help? Thanks!
post #2 of 24
I'm not familiar with Ender's Game, but DH and I have read the Belgariad series by Eddings, and we have some of those books on a within-DS's-reach shelf...but our DS hasn't tried to read them yet. He just turned 5, and the only adult reading he's done is a couple pages from one of the later Harry Potter books, and one of my murder mysteries (but I wasn't on a grisly scene).

I actually think it's great that your DS is interested in reading a non-picture book! =) I grew up with bibliophile parents, so I started reading what my dad read when I was around 10 (Terry Brooks, Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey). I loved having so many of our own books available to read. It's actually been a hard habit to break, but now I only check them out from the library (save a lot of money that way).

How much of the books is he reading? Just a few paragpraphs/pages, or is he plowing through them? It could just be a brief phase. If you're really worried about it, you could try telling him there are some books that you don't think he's old enough to read yet...and put the worst ones either out of sight or on the top-most shelves...but that's not something we're worried about here (we have fairly liberal attitudes towards most media anyway). And maybe get some more advanced (but closer to his age/maturity level) reading material for him to distract him from the adult level books. There should be plenty of fantasy/epic type fiction for younger kids available if you're okay with the genre. Maybe take your older DS to the library after you've scouted out some possibilites to see if he's interested in any of those.
post #3 of 24
I wouldn't censor my child's reading material. All books in the house (and the library, and available online) are fair game.

If one of my kids decided to read something that appeared controversial and I hadn't read it myself, I'd read it so I could discuss it with him/her. Beyond that, I'm just happy when they're reading.
post #4 of 24
My parents were always happy to see me read when I was a kid and really, they should have been paying attention and telling me no sometimes.. I read a lot of things I didn't understand and a lot of things that I found scary and upsetting. I don't know why I didn't just put the books down and not read them, but I didn't. I know I'm not the only one because I have so many friends who still claim to have nightmares from books like Flowers in the Attic (I swear, every one of our mothers must have been reading that at the same time and WHY when you see your second grader with that, WHY wouldn't you think...hmmm...perhaps this is inappropriate?) and all the Stephen King (thanks, Dad).

It sounds like he just wants to READ. I'd try to keep him occupied with books, but tell him other books are for when he is older.
post #5 of 24
My 4 yr. old is a big reader, too, and we restrict books that I don't think are appropriate by telling him that they are inappropriate for a 4 yr. old and that just because he *can* read them, doesn't mean he should, and steer him towards more appropriate reading material. This very morning he's read half of the Marvel comics Wizard of Oz, and he's also been reading Charlotte's Web. There is plenty of challenging, high-quality literature that is more appropriate for advanced young readers.
To make it clear on the shared bookshelf, maybe you could put stickers on the spines of the books he *is* allowed to read now? And add more as he gets older? Or divide the books by shelf, with the inappropriate material up high?

I definitely don't think Ender's Game is appropriate for a 5 yr. old.
post #6 of 24
Maybe try buying him some more age appropriate children's chapter books for himself? Ender's Game is a great book but I'm thinking it would give him nightmares and isn't really a good book for him to be reading. It can get really bloody and there were some pretty adult situations in it.
post #7 of 24
We've never tried to restrict access to different kinds of books. I have offered guidance if they pick up a book that I think might be beyond their comprehension level or contain age-inappropriate content. I'll explain that the book contains a lot of disturbing violence, or adult relationships that they may not understand. I offer to talk about what they are reading, especially if they are uncomfortable with it or don't understand it. After one of these discussions, I've never known them to persist with a book that I thought wasn't appropriate. Typically, they may read a chapter or 2 and then it's abandoned for something more interesting.

Admittedly, I have a fairly elastic definition of "appropriate" reading material - DS read and loved A Clockwork Orange when he was about 13 or so, and DD read Twilight at about age 11 or 12.

Generally, having lots of other interesting age-appropriate options on hand has been the best tactic. If they had lots of their own entertaining books, they didn't really have any need to read mine.

I don't quite understand how the restriction on chapter books in the shared bedroom is part of the problem. If paperbacks and hardcovers aren't allowed, doesn't that apply equally to children's or adult books?
post #8 of 24
My mother never restricted my reading - I read things way before I could understand them. My mom was just happy that I was reading.

I won't be restricting my son's reading either - but I will make sure that if he's upset by anything he's reading that he can talk to me about it.
post #9 of 24
I'm not familiar with Ender's Game, but honestly, the Belgariad wouldn't bother me. I assume he's reading Pawn of Prophecy? I would have a talk with him, make sure he's clear on the concept of "fantasy", and then let him read it if he wants to. Make sure to tell him that you're happy to discuss any part of the book with him if he doesn't understand/has concerns.

I don't really believe in censoring books, but my guy has his own bookshelf at this point. Once he's moving on to other areas of the house for books, DH and I will have to discuss the book collection (a good chunk of it is in the basement storage - either to prevent the little from reading it or to prevent him from destroying it). Neither of us reads horror, so there's none of that in the house, but there's plenty of fantasy, sci-fi, techno, etc., so I would just be sure that he understands the difference, and that one of us has read any particular book he picks up, so we can discuss it with him if he needs us to.
post #10 of 24
We don't restrict access. If a book is too old for ds, he tends to get bored and put it down.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessy1019 View Post
I wouldn't censor my child's reading material. All books in the house (and the library, and available online) are fair game.

If one of my kids decided to read something that appeared controversial and I hadn't read it myself, I'd read it so I could discuss it with him/her. Beyond that, I'm just happy when they're reading.


My parents never censored my reading material. They should have been more attentive to it though, I think.

My husband and I are huuuge readers (as is obvious by my signature) so we'll just read what they're reading as well if it's adult material or something controversial so we can discuss it if necessary.
post #12 of 24
I read Ender's Game when I was the same age Ender was at the start of the book. I found a lot to identify with there, for better or for worse... There is scary/adult stuff in that book, but I think much of that went over my head. Also, I think that we underestimate how much scary stuff kids can handle generally.

I think that young kids reading adult books is something that you should monitor (and discuss) but not prevent- and I say this partially because anything that you have in the house, your children will probably read if they have a mind to. I know I used to sneak in and read books off my parents' personal shelves (mind, they didn't put anything weird there, just stuff that was theirs or more adult-boring). Better they read adults books where you know about it and can talk to them about it.

That said, I would make sure that he has a lot of age appropriate books easily accessible.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
I don't quite understand how the restriction on chapter books in the shared bedroom is part of the problem. If paperbacks and hardcovers aren't allowed, doesn't that apply equally to children's or adult books?
the restriction is for my youngest son. if a book doesn't have pictures, he tends to rip out the pages, so only children's books, photography books, and encyclopedias with pictures are allowed in there.

I think what started him off was that we did let him read the prydain chronicles by lloyd alexander, and the Eragon series. I am pretty against him reading Ender's Game by himself because there are a lot of concepts about war which we still have yet to talk to him about (and he has a lot of anxiety about war in general). He's never just read a chapter and dropped a book, he's always been one to come back to finish it.

I like the suggestions about having a shelf for him, and asking him to let us know when he wants to read something to run it by us first. I have no problems "censoring" his reading if it's material that is too old or is going to cause him to have nightmares. He's not even five. If he were a pre-teen then maybe I'd give him more leeway, but at his age I definately want to make sure he's reading things that he can emotionally process, even if he can academically process the words.
post #14 of 24
What about getting him his own library card, with his name on it, and letting him pick out chapter books from the kids' section? There are plenty of challenging, but more appropriate books to choose from and maybe if he has his own, constantly changing variety he will leave your "adult" books to you. Just a thought!
post #15 of 24
We definitely do a mix. We have a ton of books but most of them are in the basement. DS likes to read the Economist though. I tend to glance through it when it arrives and issues wtih really "bad" stuff go directly to our bathroom, where he never goes.

One thing we did that was super helpful was set up an appointment w/the children's librarian. We told her our son was reading above grade level, how old he is, what sorts of things he was capable of reading, and what some of his interests are. She set him up with an absolutely massive pile of books that he finds fascinating and which are totally fine for a 6 year old. Apparently librarians are often familiar with this issue and her suggestions were great.
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlprof View Post
One thing we did that was super helpful was set up an appointment w/the children's librarian. We told her our son was reading above grade level, how old he is, what sorts of things he was capable of reading, and what some of his interests are. She set him up with an absolutely massive pile of books that he finds fascinating and which are totally fine for a 6 year old. Apparently librarians are often familiar with this issue and her suggestions were great.
thank you girlprof! I didn't even think of that. I went this morning to the library and the childrens' librarian was very helpful. She pulled out some K-3rd chapter books and also some 4th-6th chapter books (which we'll probably limit to family reading time, and not alone reading time due to some content matter). But she gave me some other authors to choose from as well, and DS1 was so excited about all the new books to bring home!
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alathia View Post
I have no problems "censoring" his reading if it's material that is too old or is going to cause him to have nightmares. He's not even five. If he were a pre-teen then maybe I'd give him more leeway, but at his age I definately want to make sure he's reading things that he can emotionally process, even if he can academically process the words.
Yeah. It looks like I was in the minority of responses when I agreed to censorship, but I'm guessing part of that is having a very advanced, *very* young reader. I'm generally anti-censorship and I don't think there's much I'd censor from my 7 yr. old if he was interested (which he's not). Having a 4 yr. old who can read pretty much anything makes you rethink the issue.
post #18 of 24
I don't allow my son to read anything with sex or disturbing violence in it. I put them out of sight. (if he finds one, I'll just tell him it's not appropriate for children.)
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alathia View Post
the restriction is for my youngest son. if a book doesn't have pictures, he tends to rip out the pages, so only children's books, photography books, and encyclopedias with pictures are allowed in there.
Okay - but doesn't that mean that adult books without pictures aren't allowed either?? It kind of sounds like you have been restricting access to children's chapter books but not adult chapter books.

It sounds like you've successfully found a bunch of appropriate children's books which is great. Happy reading!!
post #20 of 24
My grandmother's philosophy, which my mom passed down, was that if they are ready for it, they'll understand it. If they aren't ready for it, they won't understand it.

I can think of one book that I read when I was 12 that really wasn't appropriate, and my parents even asked me about it because of the cover -- but they didn't stop me from reading it. It was one of Robert Heinlein's adult books (I liked his young adult novels so much). In a lifetime of reading, that's the only one that stands out.

If you're into fantasy, I tend to start younger readers out with Tamora Pierce, and then graduate them to Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey. (Not a librarian here, though.) But it also depends on what people want to sensor. Even Tamora Pierce has some sex scenes in the Alanna quartet.
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