Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rating Books?

It's easy for me to decide which movies, television shows, or video games I will let my family watch. I simply look at the rating first and then decide if the show looks interesting.
But what about books? Books don't even have to put a disclaimer on their cover revealing they're full of sex, violence, or language. Sometimes the cover reveals all, but most often the reader is left guessing. I was recently on page 151 of a very clean, very well-written book when suddenly there were several offensive words and the nastiest sex scene I've ever read. I chucked the book across the room and vowed never to read the author again.
What's the solution? Do we need a rating placed on the cover or would a simple disclaimer work? And the big question - how are we going to convince publishers a rating system is in their best interest?
If you feel strongly about this issue, please cast your vote at Helium - http://www.helium.com/debates/93151-should-books-have-ratings-like-movies-to-warn-parents-about-inappropriate
A great blog post about the issue - http://bellyacrefarm.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-wish-books-had-rating-system.html


  1. A rating system would be good. I certainly understand your frustration. It happens to me often. Will it happen anytime soon? Sometimes, looking at the publishers and getting familiar with what they publish helps, as well as reading the synopsis.

  2. Cami - I just finished reading The Sister Pact, and loved it. I searched out your blog, and totally agree about having books rated. I've wondered about it for years, and wish it was a requirement, like movies. I'll check out the site you suggested. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Kim. I'm so happy you enjoyed The Sister Pact!
    I think even just a disclaimer about what's in the book would help.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Laura. I doubt a rating system is anything more than a dream at this point. I'm amazed how many authors get riled over the very thought, but I think it would help authors as well. I know someone who reads my book looking for sexual content is going to be very disappointed! With some type of disclosure or rating system, I believe readers would be much more apt to try someone new.

  5. Oh, how frustrating! Disappointments like that are why I've finally gone with Family Christian Bookstore and Deseret (or Seagull) Book catalogs for choosing what I'll read. I figure if they're in those, they're the "rating" I want. :)

    I also agree with someone's comment on the blog you listed... The movie rating system DOESN'T work because it's not consistent (over time or from movie to movie). So now I rely on the website: http://www.kids-in-mind.com/

    I really like it, because it just lists everything that's in a movie and it gives me the freedom to decide for myself whether it meets my standards. I love not having to rely on raters' or movie critics' judgment anymore.

    Soooo, I'd love to see something like that for books. Something that gives an "amount" for each category (sexuality, language, violence, drug use) would be wonderful.

    And I agree with many of the "Yes" people in that poll--it's not censorship because it's not restricting the authors' freedom to write what they want.

    Great question--thanks for posting it!

  6. Thanks for your great comment, Heidi, and for sharing that website. I'm going to check that out. Our solution has been we really shy away from most movies and TV shows, but I get sick at the thought of not finding enough good books to satiate my little readers. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. I think I would prefer a rating system. The notebook- for example- is one of my favorite stories, but there is one part that I had to skip over. I had no idea it would be as graphic as it was... I was not a fan of that. I like good clean books- and it would be nice to know the rating of them.

  8. It would be really nice, but it's even nicer that there are publishers like Cedar Fort where every book is clean. Thanks!


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