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S/O Why do parents regulate what their kids take out of the library? Do you?

post #1 of 124
Thread Starter 

The coat thread made me think of this. Every time I've been at the library in the last 2 months, I've overheard parents arguing with their children about which books the kids could check out. It wasn't about the number of books (which I could understand), but the level of the book. "Those books are too easy for you. I don't want you to check them out." "Those books are like candy for you. I want you to choose something better." Really? 


Why would parents want to restrict what their kids are reading? I read a lot of books that aren't at my reading level. Reading at my reading level is work . The 76 pages in "Linguistic complexity: Locality of syntactic dependency" took me 6-8 hours to get through. If I'm reading for pleasure, I don't need that. I'd much prefer Amelia Peabody.


Is it different for kids? My son spent all of 3rd grade reading the Boxcar children books. These books were 2 grade levels below his reading level and roughly the same plot in all 120 of them. By the end, he was going through them incredibly quickly. I did try to expand his repertoire a bit (mostly unsuccessfully), but I never said he couldn't check the books out. Ditto for dd now. She's reading a high level, but sometimes likes to read books that are far too easy. Yes, she reads the Rainbow Magic books in 15 minutes. She must be getting something out of them.


Am I wrong about this?

post #2 of 124

I would never limit my child's reading as long as the books were age appropriate (as in won't give them nightmares). I read way above my age level as a child so I skipped reading a lot of the classics. When I was in middle school, I decided to go back and read some of the books I'd skipped because friends of mine had all read them and I hadn't. Any reading is good reading to me. I still love to read (and reread) some children's books.

post #3 of 124

I would limit what she took out.  But, only because I have trouble locating the books later on... even with the receipt they send home.  I'd spend three days looking for a book, not find it, take back what I could find, find it eventually, and end up owing $40 in late fees.


And, usually, I lost the receipt, so I never knew what book was missing anyway.

post #4 of 124
I have before, but not for those reasons. Usually it's because I know it's a junk book with an offensive message (racism, anti-bf, etc.) the same as I would censor what my kids watch on tv.
post #5 of 124

I have one kid that was a very gifted reader very early, (think 5 years old and reading adult level books). The only things I ever pulled off her stack were erotica. Apparently, some of them have pretty covers. Once my kids were ten or so, I let them read whatever they wished.

post #6 of 124

My son is too young yet to really pick out books (nearly 2.5 y/o) but I figured your post would be the opposite: parents restricting children from checking out books that are too mature. I don't think I'd sweat a child reading "too easy" books. I've read the Harry Potter series several times and it's definitely easy reading for me. Shouldn't pleasure reading be just that: the person reading a book that they enjoy? Although I could understand a parent telling a child not use a book for a book report because it is too easy.


My own parents didn't restrict what I read although my reading went to the mature side. I remember my dad raising his eyebrows at a book titled something along the lines of "Sins of the Father" when I was rather young. It was a book from my aunt (she reads a lot and passed her books on once she was done - she gives them to the Senior Center these days since she reads large print books now) and about a family that was in the Witness Protection Program due to the dad's involvement in a criminal element.

post #7 of 124
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

I have one kid that was a very gifted reader very early, (think 5 years old and reading adult level books). The only things I ever pulled off her stack were erotica. Apparently, some of them have pretty covers. Once my kids were ten or so, I let them read whatever they wished.

I can get erotica at the library???

post #8 of 124
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post


I can get erotica at the library???

Heck, yeah. I've sampled some of it myself.

post #9 of 124
There are a few reasons I have. We have limited reading time during some months and I need the kids to focus on the required reading to prevent them from getting behind (homeschooled). I've told even the older kids they can't read Harry Potter....while I personally don't mind it they have repeatedly read similar subject matter and ended up with nightmares. Even though they are old enough they dont seem to have the ability to make choices regarding what will scare them later.

Hmmmmmm I've occasionally made book decisions for them when I'm sick and tired of keeping track of their books and paying late fees.

Other than the above I have a number for each child of books they need to read per subject, I require a specific number of non-fiction but then they are allowed a set number that are whatever they want......with the above exceptions when they apply.
post #10 of 124

Like others, I've only pulled books that I was afraid would cause nightmares (my son is 6, and scares very easily). My son is not reading much ahead of his grade level, so the books he is drawn to tend to have appropriate subject matter, anyway, so I can only remember ever saying no to a book maybe twice, and my son always agreed when I explained why.


I think what you've witnessed, though, fits in with the current general trend of parents encouraging young children to only read 'serious' (usually chapter) books and forgo picture books. It's too bad, really. :(

post #11 of 124

Why does it have to be a right vs. wrong thing?  Families are different.  Maybe they are working with their kids on reading skills/comprehension.  Maybe the kids have checked out those types of books in the past and never ended up reading them because they were too simple.  Maybe they have those books or similar ones at home. 

post #12 of 124

I would not limit for content. We just discussed any plot situations or messages that came up along the way. :)

post #13 of 124

I would have said I don't do this but then thinking about it, I have.  DDs are 5 and don't read.  When we go to the library they pick books for themselves and I pick some for them.  They're pretty indiscriminate and grab anything with a pretty cover.  If it's truly a book meant for a baby I've suggested we not get it and said that it's for really little ones, only because I'm already hauling out a huge armful of books and don't want one more on the pile that I know is just going to sit on the coffee table until we return it.  It's not that I think it's beneath them or I'm pushing them to literature, I just know they really aren't interested in it.  If they protest or point out some attribute I've missed I'll get it too, but most times they don't care.  I also screen the other way -- we get a lot of chapter books for me to read to them and they're often drawn to covers where I know the story or some element of it will scare them and say we'll save if for when they're older.

post #14 of 124

Well... I doubt I'd let DS take The Art of War out of the library, if only because he won't actually get anything from it right now. We don't let DD borrow porn either. But other than that, we don't really censor what is read, we only ask to know about it so conversations can take place.

post #15 of 124

My kids can choose whatever they want from the children's area of the library.  If they want something from the adult side of the library, I will reserve the right to regulate because they are *not* adults.  So far, it hasn't been a problem--DS sometimes wants science related books from the adult side of the library (not like heavy quantum physics stuff, but sometimes he'll check out college text books on space or something because he loves the pictures...not because he likes reading textbooks. :lol: ).  Anything with "adult" content (heavy swearing, violence, sex) is not brought home...as a parent of young children, I have the right to regulate that.  It might be censoring, but IMO children shouldn't really be reading that type of stuff.  But other than adult-only content, they can take out whatever they want.

post #16 of 124

Well, none of mine really read yet. DD1 is reading a few words here and there (she is dyslexic) so maybe here some day. I don't have an issue with it. I was an avid reader as a child and loved many series that were well below my reading level, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, Boxcar Children, I read them though age 9 and then moved on to adult books and never looked back. I won't really censor my children's books, except maybe erotica. I checked out many of those books as a pre-teen, my mom never knew what they were. 

post #17 of 124

I do limit/control what they take out, but not the in way mentioned in the OP. I have limited space (which would increase greatly if I culled some of my paperbacks, which is one of my "when I can face it" projects) for library books here. The kids also like to take out DVDs. So, our rule for our trips to the library, which are every other week, is that each of them can take out up to three books, and two DVDs. At least one of the DVDs has to be non-fiction. The books can be whatever they want, and dd1 always (maybe not once or twice) chooses at least one non-fiction book about spiders. DS2's choices are all over the map. I also take out something to read for myself and/or ds1 (he started reading the Dresden Files books I was reading and hasn't finished them yet), and maybe one for the kids that I pick out for reading out loud. I don't like to have more than 12 or so books/DVDs out at once, so that's it. I'm not sure what I'll do about limits once dd2 starts picking stuff out!

post #18 of 124

I limit.


My oldest is a fluent reader.  But he is 7.  There are things in the library that are not appropriate, helpful, or good for him to read, including in the youth section.  There are graphic novels available that will *never* cross my doorway.  I might encourage him to look for something that's not baby-kindergarten level.  So who knows, maybe you would hear me talking with him about that.  If you did, it might be because there was a particular issue going on with him/us, rather than me being opposed to reading for pleasure.  You never know.


I also do my best to persuade my kids that they really, really don't want that Dora book, but if they want to win that argument, I let them. 


post #19 of 124

I "censor" DD's books, sure. She's nearly three, so I'm the one who has to read them. Usually I'll choose some books for her and let her choose some - but she usually just likes to pick ones with pretty covers, as fast as she can chuck them in the pram. So while she plays on the library rocking horse I flip through them to see if they're too wordy (she'd get bored), too easy ("This is a ball", "This is a rabbit" isn't really doing it for her any more), or otherwise likely to annoy me. Some of the books have spirituality elements that I don't jive with - "What Happened to Grandpa After He Died"-type books. If I don't believe Grandpas turn into angels or float away on the wind with dandelion petals, I don't see the need to read that to my two-year-old! I don't think she's ever noticed my discreet substitutions.


Recently a book slipped through my radar called something like "Misery Is a Spider In the Bathroom". Every page was "Misery Is...", but apart from being aimed at older kids (stuff about schoolwork and homework), it included such gems as "Misery is your mother telling you she's pregnant" (which I am!), "Misery is having to eat your vegetables", and so on. OK, it probably wouldn't scar DD for life, but I don't see why I should give her those sorts of ideas! So I quickly changed the text to "Oh look, she has a baby in her tummy!" and "Mm, she's having dinner", and returned it to the library. :p There are PLENTY of books out there; I don't want to waste mental energy reading ones I find offensive or vapid or obnoxious.


When she gets older, I'll watch her and censor things when and if I find it appropriate. If she gets easily scared, like I did as a kid, I won't let her get out books that are scary; and yes, if she shows a preference for Sweet Valley High, I might well limit or forbid them, because I think they're vapid tripe. Censorship? Yes, I suppose, but I think part of my job as a parent is to encourage her to develop good taste. There are plenty of pleasurable, light, "fluffy" books that are actually well-written and aren't all about boys, lipstick, high school drama and queen bees. (Just like there's plenty of delicious food that isn't full of HFCS and artificial blue dye...) I'm a huge reader, have an English degree and have hundreds of books around the house, and go to the library frequently. So I don't think she'll grow up deprived of books. And hey, once she's 21 if she has an unmet need to read all the Mary-Kate and Ashley books, she can go nuts... so it's hardly a permanent deprivation.

post #20 of 124

My parents never regulated what I read. And I'm a huge reader. There are some things my mom knew I was reading and now says she didn't realize what they were (think V.C. Andrews) and she probably would have discouraged me from reading them, but for the most part, she was just happy that I loved it so much.


My oldest struggles with reading and having confidence, so I don't really care what he brings home from the library, as long as there are words and he's interested, lol.


And as for the trashier stuff, I'm pretty well-read and enjoy many types of books, including sometimes the trashier bits, lol. I was a *huge* Babysitter's Club fan, and I would read one of those books along with something like Gone With the Wind. I just couldn't imagine discouraging a kid from reading stuff like that if they really enjoy it. I would probably have a problem if my 8 or 9 year old wanted to read Steven King or some porn or something. But if it's not that, then why not? Shoot, I read cereal boxes when I eat breakfast sometimes, lol.

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