Catcher in the Rye for a 12 year old ?

(21 Posts)
HughHonour Thu 07-May-15 11:21:55

My son is a bright advanced reader. He is diagnosed with Asperger's but is perceptive and has insight to many topics .

My x-partner (his mum ) does not think he is emotonally ready for the book and would like him to read it at an older age (18) . I should say she is very controlling in most things .

I differ and like to expose him to a variety of books that he normally gobbles up . He has just finishes Tolkien : Lord of the Rings .

Any views ?

Imbimba Thu 07-May-15 15:08:41

My eldest is only 5, but I would certainly let her read it at 12.

KoalaDownUnder Thu 07-May-15 15:13:43

You don't need to be 18 to read The Catcher in the Rye! Twelve is plenty old enough.

cadidog Thu 07-May-15 17:58:46

12 is about right for Catcher. He'll love it - though he'll likely have to read it again for school

BrianButterfield Thu 07-May-15 18:00:19

12 is fine. I've just recommended it to the parent of a bright, perceptive year 8 as a good wider reading novel.

Strawberrybubblegum Thu 07-May-15 20:49:04

Have to say I'm surprised so many people think 12 (and even 8!) is an appropriate age for Catcher in the Rye. I'd consider 14-15 to be a better age, and if your son has Aspergers then you would do well to discuss it with him as he goes along even then.

It needs far greater emotional maturity than Lord of the Rings. LOTR is quite long and has interesting vocabulary, but is essentially just an adventure story. Certainly appropriate for a 12 year old who is a good reader.

Catcher in the Rye is about disillusionment with the world and people, and uncertainty about one's place in it.

Not to be prissy, but it has a lot of swearing in it (probably not an issue at 12) and also sexual references (more of an issue, I'd say) eg when Holden goes to a prostitute, changes his mind when he sees her naked, and is robbed by her pimp. How well do you think your son will understand that?

Don't get me wrong, I loved the book when I read it at 15. Would be a shame to lose the impact of it by reading it before having the maturity to understand it.

Strawberrybubblegum Thu 07-May-15 21:13:03

And there are so many fantastic books which ARE appropriate for that age. Why rush things?

A quick google for 'books for 12 year old' will give you loads of ideas.

mooth Thu 07-May-15 21:17:51

Oh FGS let him read it when he wants. It's a classic piece of literature not Grand Theft Auto. I read anything I could lay my hands on at that age and it was a great education.

Strawberrybubblegum Fri 08-May-15 07:46:13

There are plenty of classic pieces of literature which a child wouldn't understand (and might indeed get strange ideas from) and certainly wouldn't get much from.

And the child hasn't asked to read it, the OP has decided he would like to 'expose him to a variety of books'.

Is it some kind of intellectual machismo or boasting (' MY kid is reading xyz ')? Seriously, no-one doubts that you as an adult enjoy difficult books, or indeed that your kid will when he's a bit older.

ragged Fri 08-May-15 09:59:19

DD is 13 & she's just not reached an angst-filled stage. I don't want to accelerate her there, so I wouldn't suggest it.

CadleCrap Fri 08-May-15 10:08:13

I was about 12 when I read it. I remember this because I wrote a book report on it, where as others in my class were reading Enid blyton. There were some things I didn't have the emotional maturity for so my brain sort of just bleeped it out, didn't stop me enjoying it or getting an A.

mooth Fri 08-May-15 22:25:11

I read all manner of things at an early age. It helped me understand quite a lot. I wasn't exceptionally bright, it was stuff on my parents' shelves.

I would recommend it. We're not supposed to understand everything, even as an adult.

Cobo Sat 09-May-15 00:52:35

Getting "strange ideas" from literature is the point of literature!

Let him read it if he shows an interest. It doesn't really matter if bits of it go over his head as long as he enjoys it.

Strawberrybubblegum Sat 09-May-15 15:00:00

Well I think the joy of reading is in understanding new things about the world; seeing new truths from many different angles and directions; living a thousand lives, as the saying goes.

I can see some pleasure in reading a poem you don't understand (if the language and imagery appeal to you) but a book - nah.

At best: pointless (and a waste - the second time you read something is never the same). At worst: upsetting and confusing.

If the book was sitting around, and the child found the blurb interesting, started reading it and enjoyed it, then OK. They'll just put it down if it's a problem. But to actively give a child a book which is way above his level of emotional maturity isn't the right thing to do. I repeat - what's your aim in giving it? If you're actively giving a book, you should be thinking about the child, not yourself.

Nervo Sat 09-May-15 15:02:09

I read it at school at 15. There would have been 14 year old's in my class. It was tame compared to my usual reading.

HughHonour Sat 09-May-15 23:08:20

Strawberry - I read it as a child (14) after my sister (16) had finished and recommended it . I really enjoyed how it was written . Some of it went over my head but the narrative stuck with me . Emotional maturity ranges and is relative to the individual child . I have primed him for the story ....
And no it's not a machismo thing . I expose him a range that I think he will enjoy : from Asterix to Private Eye . He is naturally curious .

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 09-May-15 23:22:16

I read it at about 14. I read All Quiet on the Western Front and the story of Art Pepper at 12, but by 13 had graduated to Henry Miller, courtesy of a gloriously lax librarian in the school/public library.

Catcher in the Rye was quite dull in comparison.

Strawberrybubblegum Sun 10-May-15 08:42:57

Fair enough, OP. You know your son. None of the rest of us on here do smile

It's great you've spoken to him about it. I'm guessing you've also re-read the book. That would be useful both to make sure you remember it correctly, and also so you can discuss it with him.

Kleinzeit Sun 10-May-15 11:35:30

What an interesting discussion! My DS is also a bright Aspie who very much liked Lord of the Rings (and Asterix and Private Eye!). I agree that Catcher in the Rye is much more emotionally and morally complex than Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed Catcher in the Rye myself at 13-ish, and I wouldn’t have a problem with a 12 year old picking it up and reading it, but I would wait a couple of years before giving it because it’s quite teenage-angst-y and not all younger children would really get the point. I haven’t given it to my DS though he’s 16. My DS likes books that are plot driven, which Catcher in the Rye isn’t. At 12 my DS got a lot out of the Garth Nix fantasy novels (Sabriel/Lirael etc) – a bit subtler and more adult than LoTR but not such a big step. A bit later on he throughly enjoyed "Catch 22".

However, you know your own DS best. If you’ve talked to him about it and he’s interested then why not?

NellyTheElephant Sun 10-May-15 17:06:48

If he enjoys it then he is old enough to read it. Personally I would think to really appreciate Catcher in the Rye he would need to be a bit older (14/15), but who knows, it depends entirely on him. My worry if any would be that reading it now might spoil for later (not a great deal actually HAPPENS, he might not find it that interesting), i.e. he might not truly get it now and then not be interested in picking it up again when he is at an age when he does. As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on - much of it totally inappropriate (lax parents took no real notice of what books I was picking up), and looking back I don't think there was any harm in that, it was pretty self regulating - if I was out of my depth I just stopped reading it, and on the whole I am the same for my children. With books you either read and are interested or you are not.

My DH gets most worried about DD (10) reading the newspaper with all the awful stories in it, but I feel that if she wants to sit down and read news / Private Eye etc (which she does) then we should encourage her and it won't harm her. She has also read Lord of the Rings, but although long and complex that is nothing like Catcher in the Rye - it's an amazing adventure story, whereas CITR is an emotional journey.

Stitchintime1 Sun 10-May-15 17:09:32

I think he might find it a bit dull.

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