June 10, 2010

lions and tigers and book ratings... oh my!

Turns out I'm all FIRED UP about BOOK RATINGS.
Shannon Hale, and LDS author, who i love, has been talking a lot about book morals, on her blog- Squeetus.

I've commented on almost every entry.
LONG comments.
PASSIONATE comments.
turns out, i REALLY disagree with her on this topic.
(even though i still love her books)

and, i REALLY feel like we should have RATINGS on books.
and, i'm READY to start a rally.

Let's all meet in Washington, DC... with banners... and cupcakes.
Beautiful cupcakes full of BUGS or dog food, and hand them to every cute child we see.
And see if they take a bite.
And then tell the mothers that they should have tasted EVERY cupcake BEFORE they let their child eat it.
That's what all these people say,
"If parents are concerned they should read every book before their kid does." 
That's crap.
Even super-home schoolin'-mother-of one's can't possible read every book before their child does...
unless her kid doesn't love to read...
or go to the library...
or, she reads all day and never does her dishes...
Should we have to TASTE everything our kid eats before he eats it to know whether or not it is full of poison.
NOPE.  That's why we have LABELS.
oh so important.
with information we can CHOOSE.

One of the authors that Shannon had comment said "most toddlers will select a reasonably balanced diet if you give them the choice."  and "[speaking as a grown-up who learned early on to avoid like the plague any book with the word 'poignant' on the jacket.  Nothing signified adult content like 'poignant.']"
most kids would eat CRAP if they could.
ESPECIALLY if the people who SOLD the crap could put a nice cover on it that said it was VEGGIES...
or FRUIT snacks (but that's a topic for another day).

and, there has got to be a better way to teach our children to avoid pornographic books than telling them to look for the word POIGNANT.
that illustrates EXACTLY what is wrong with the system.
we CAN'T CHOOSE for ourselves, because we DON'T KNOW what is in the book unless we READ IT.
labels are GREAT.
Book RATINGS would work.
No, they wouldn't be PERFECT.  But, they would work.
I let my kid play Lego Star Wars even if it there is a VIOLENCE caution on it.
in fact, i would TEACH my kids the smutty stuff in Shakespeare to get them to read it.
(yes, that's why i love shakespeare... but don't tell anyone.)
knowing what is in a book does not LIMIT us, it only give us more information to USE when we CHOOSE.

in my HUMBLE opinion.
This is the comment i wrote on her blog today.  OH!  I'm pretty passionate about this subject...

Readers have the right to be INFORMED. We have the right to know what is in the book, BEFORE we buy it or read it. In this country, you can't even feed your child a TWINKIE without knowing the ingredients. KNOWING what is in a book does not change the book at all. It allows us to have informed decisions when choosing. WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SPEND HOURS OF OUR TIME TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER A BOOK IS SOMETHING WE WANT TO READ.
Why is it that we allow PUBLISHERS and MARKETING experts to appeal to us and our children without any regulations?

Ratings do not censor, ratings INFORM. I am an adult. EVERY TIME I go to the library I am frustrated. I don't want to waste my time reading a book that is full of bad language and sex scenes. And, I CAN'T TELL from the cover what is really in the book.

I was at the library today and talked to a librarian. They have a hard time BUYING books, because all they have to go by is the summary from the publisher and the book reviews. !!???

There are ratings on movies, video games and detailed labels on food... i don't see that parents or schools are censoring uncontrollably just because we know the rating. Twinkies are still on the shelf! And MANY kids are allowed to play M-Mature games.

People are smart. When given the necessary information, we can choose for ourselves. My children are smart... they can go to a school library and choose for themselves IF the information is available to them. Letting them know that a certain book contains bad language and partial nudity doesn't limit their ability to choose. It strengthens it. Information is POWERFUL.

We can tell the difference between nudity in a Dr. Suess book, implied sexuality in Shakespeare, and detailed sex in a Harlequin. Ratings are smart too... N for brief nudity, N+ for graphic nudity, S for mild sexual situations, S+ for explicit sexual situations. Ratings don't limit choice. Ratings just give us more input to choose with.

As consumers, we have a RIGHT to know what we are reading BEFORE we buy it, BEFORE we hand it to our children, BEFORE we get 30 pages in.
Book RATINGS are long overdue.

hah! i really had no idea how passionate i am about this issue until i started commenting on your blogs.

i love books.
i hate being deceived into reading something i would never knowingly choose.
i want the choice.
i want my children to have the choice what they read and what they do not read.
the problem is, without ratings, all they have is a cover designed by a publisher to SELL.
that is deceptive.
the end.
of my book.


Heather said...

i thoroughly agree with you...

here is a blog my sister's friend started that you might be interested in


Coralee said...

I agree with you. My husband and I have been talking about the need for some type of book ratings and/or trusted review sources. My kids aren't at an age where they are reading/picking their own books yet, but even with some toddler books I've noticed "hidden agendas" that you don't know are there until you read them.

Jenn Wilks said...

Jenifer, thank you for being so brave and bold with your comments. I thoroughly agree with you, and I'm frankly baffled by the enormous amount of outcry that is going up against any notion of ratings of any kind. Especially with all the LDS authors who responded to Shannon's question.

Heather Dixon said...

interesting to hear opinions on book ratings...i've had the stuff i've worked on rated by the MPAA and while it's flawed, it's better than nothing. everything nowadays has content filters--including internet, artwork (like DeviantArt), music, video games, movies, even fan fiction. (in fact it's considered pretty rude to post a story online and not include a content rating.) so yeah i'll be with you in that rally :D

Ann said...

Just tell me when to head to DC with you and I'll be there.

I'm all for a ratings system. I hate having to read through review after review hoping that someone with similar opinions on morality will let me know if there's something in a book that I would rather not pay money for.

And yeah, then when kids start getting into more grown-up books, ESPECIALLY when they're reading at levels far above their grade level, it makes it extra tricky.

sam and brittney said...

My husband's aunt has created a website for this very purpose.


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