12:30 pm EDT, May 22, 2012

Young Adult books: do they need a rating system? [POLL]

Last week we reported on a study that found profane language was used frequently in young adult novels. Now that study is being looked at more closely and people are asking, should YA novels have a rating system?

The professor who conducted the study, Sarah Coyne, thinks that books should indeed have a rating systems to help parents decide what is right for their child.

From US News:

“I think we put books on a pedestal compared to other forms of media,” Coyne says. “I thought long and hard about whether to do the study in the first place—I think banning books is a terrible idea, but a content warning on the back I think would empower parents.”

Coyne’s study included words from five different categories: George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words,” sexual words, excretory words, ‘strong others’ (bastard, bitch) and ‘mild others’ (hell, damn). All but five books, including many targeted to kids as young as 9, had at least one instance of profanity.

Coyne notes that books like Harry Potter and Twilight had a big influence on adolescents but questions if parents know about books like Gossip Girl and the adult content in the books compared to what is seen on TV.  She also mentions Tweak, stating “if they made that into a movie, it’d be rated R very quickly.”

Beth Yorke from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) questions who would label the books. Would a random group decide if a book was appropriate for your child or you to read? Recent issues with the MPAA have proven that rating systems are flawed and antiquated. Yorke also makes another point about the content people are finding questionable.

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Beth Yorke:

“Books can be a safe way for young people to explore edgier, sensitive, or complicated topics, and they provide parents the opportunity to help their teens grow and understand these kinds of sensitive issues.  ALA’s interpretation on any rating system for books is that it’s censorship.”

What do you think about a rating system for young adult books? Who should be in charge of creating the rating system if it is put in place? Lastly, do the categories that Coyne used in the study really represent profane language? Take the poll and let us know what you think.

[poll id=91]

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