YA Content and Age Restrictions

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor asked if young adult books should have age ratings. The clear answer to that is no.

YA novels have become darker, but their increased popularity shows that young people connect with those types of stories. Books that deal with more mature themes are a better reflection of the issues that teens face than the fluffier YA that some adults may prefer that they read, and for anyone with internet access, content that's far more intense is only a few clicks away.

Parents are already free to steer their own families towards books they think are appropriate. They can look at reviews, or at the books themselves, and talk to their kids about the plots. But pushing for a rating system, as if teenage reading might be a problem, is mystifying.

When I was in that age group, the books marketed at me felt juvenile and out-of-touch. I just swapped to adult fiction early. Many of my friends, especially the ones whose parents tried to keep them to the youngish stuff, mostly stopped reading.

There are trends in young adult fiction that I'm not a fan of. For example, some relationships are portrayed as romantic though they seem controlling or even abusive. But readers, even young ones, tend to pick up on that type of thing on their own in time.

The books in question are aimed at the YA crowd. If we're going to call them that, then maybe we should treat them like young adults, which means at some point we have to trust them to make good decisions about both their entertainment choices and their lives.

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