Opinions on book suitability please - teachers & parents

(29 Posts)
Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 20:35:47

Can you tell me if you think this passage is suitable for a junior school child I've missed a few bits out as I havn't got all night to type!

His breath was hot and made my insides melt. Uncertain, confused, I tried to pull away but his kiss grew more urgent and all at once I didn't want to move away any more. I pulled him closer to me, wrapping my arms around him, kissing him just as desperately as he was kissing me.................

His hands were everywhere, moving over my arms, my breasts, my waist, my thighs. I pulled him closer and closer, my hands moving over his back, his bum and his legs. He raised my hands to pull off my jumper. I unbuttoned his shirt. He unfastened my bra. I unzipped his trousers. We stripped each other until we were both naked. And I was shaking.........We both knelt on the bed facing each other.

He lay me down gently, his hands and lips still exploring my body. I wanted to do the same to him.

Later in the book it seems the girl becomes pregnant.

I deliberately havn't put this in AIBU but I do want opinions.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 13-Feb-13 09:38:36

Verydul. I've noticed it also says on the back cover Not suitable for younger readers.

VeryDullNameChange Wed 13-Feb-13 08:35:30

Difficult to police in most cases, but in this particular case pretty simple.

cory Wed 13-Feb-13 07:49:47

Difficult for schools to police as 11yos are such different levels of maturity.

Hard to say for sure that a book is wrong for all primary school children but no secondary school children: some 11.5 yos will be at secondary and some at primary simply depending on what part of the year they were born in.

And anyway, some parents (such as me) worry more about their children being exposed to violence and cynicism in literature than consensual sex.

Dd would have been fine with that book.

Funnily enough, dd's class read Macbeth in Yr 6; that has all sorts of unsuitable themes, but I didn't hear of any parent complaining.

VeryDullNameChange Wed 13-Feb-13 07:45:41

I tend to think that if a book is only suitable for a minority of 11 year olds (ie a small minority of year 6) then it's probably best kept out of a primary school library - if the relatively few children who would benefit from reading it have to wait six months to read it until they go to secondary school (or go to their public library) then this is not an OMG censorship problem.

Thanks for posting OP, DD (10, yr 6) is reading the other MB books at the moment and we'd discussed Noughts and Crosses and whether they'd be a good next step, I had a feeling they were aimed at older children but wasnt sure of the content - I'll hold off for a little while.

Alonglongway Wed 13-Feb-13 07:33:49

I think it's hard to expect schools to police at that level of detail. It's difficult to foresee what will get under children's skin when they are reading and they should be offered a wide range. DD1 is 15 now but think she was around 11-12 when she read that series - no problem. On the other hand she was very upset about the ending of My Sister Jodi and I remember her crying and saying she wished she hadn't read it. But largely she has self censored and books have been easy to manage, whereas films are a different thing altogether and I've been 100% strict about the age limits, and also encouraged both DDs to just turn films off if they are getting bothered by whatever's going on. Ie making them realise that they have some control over what they consume.

Hmmm. Naked Lunch and A Clockwork Orange are both well-written, but that doesn't mean I want my eight year olds to read them yet.

FriendlyLadybird Tue 12-Feb-13 22:51:00

I've given that book and its sequels to my Y6 DS to read. I'm afraid I also encouraged him to read A Kind of Loving for a school project. I suspect he skipped any scenes that he found squirm-inducing, though he thought quite a lot about the issues that all the books dealt with.

I'm with Oscar Wilde -- a book is either well written or badly written, and that's all.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:44:46

That's given me food for thought Amelie. What do I want the outcome to be.

I think Noughts and Crosses is a great book. I would say it's suitable for approx 11 and up, depending on the child. In the school my DCs attend, there are some books in the library which can only be borrowed on a Y6 account (otherwise the computer says 'no') but they don't have that particular book.

RustyBear Tue 12-Feb-13 21:42:09

The children checking out their own books doesn't necessarily mean all children cam take out any books - our computer system allows books to be restricted to particular year groups.

AmelieRose Tue 12-Feb-13 21:37:35

I agree with you OP about the book perhaps being a bit too much for some 11 year olds (although not all of them).

There is a difference between a 10/11 yr old writing about the things you mention and children of an appropriate level of maturity reading about the themes mentioned in the book.

I absolutely agree with you about the book's unsuitability for your DD from what you say - and reassure you that if she was in my class I would have wanted a quick chat about the story she wrote too. Sometimes pupils write about things that raise a red flag - obviously your DD was just imitating something she had read or was using her imagination, but I have had children writing about things from experience that raised concerns, so schools have to be careful with that.

I suppose it depends what you want the outcome of the complaint to be. For example, do you want the book (and its sequels) removed from the shelves and for no-one to have access to them? What if other parents see it the other way - i.e. they want their DC to have access to a wide range of literature that challenges mature readers? Just playing devil's advocate.

Maybe the conversation to have is about better monitoring of age/stage appropriate novels for particular pupils.

ByTheSea Tue 12-Feb-13 21:33:38

DD2-10 (Y6) read it and loved it. Her teacher gave it to her as a Christmas gift. It has been one of DD1-13's favourite books since year 6 . There is so much more to the book than that passage.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:28:40

Dd says the library is split into 2 sections - infants & juniors

The children check out their own books by logging in on the computer and putting in a password. They don't check out via a librarian.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:27:23

Hope this isn't drop feeding but about a year ago I was called into the head teacher as dd had written an inappropriate story in class. It featured a racist attack on a girl by a boy and she used the words sexual assault though she didn't clearly understand what that meant.

So that's not ok (she told school shed hot the sexual assault idea from a book at home & me from a book at school). But this is???

AmelieRose Tue 12-Feb-13 21:26:50

I'd be surprised if year 3 children took the book out though pictures - in the library of the school I work in, the younger children have access to the senior fiction but the librarian wouldn't allow them to take out unsuitable books IFSWIM?

Also teachers 'police' books too - for example I (gently) told a 13 yr old last week not to take a particular book out because I knew that she wasn't mature enough for it, but another pupil in the class had already read it because she was (and had recommended it to her causing the problem in the first place wink).

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:23:35

Dd doesn't watch TV programmes with sex scenes in. Eastenders occasionally gets a bit near to the knuckle I agree but she's in bed by 8-8.30. To he honest she watches very little tv other than justice league cartoons.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:22:09

I think the racism is an important issue and children of her age should be aware of it. The sec scene shocked me though. Can I emphasise year 3 children also have access to the book.

Roseformeplease Tue 12-Feb-13 21:18:48

But the racism and violence are condemned, not condoned - the book is an amazing re-working of "Romeo and Juliet". From memory, there is only one sex scene and the school library will have books for all levels of maturity. It is one passage and I would not make a fuss, personally. If you don't want her to read it (and it sounds as if she already has) then get her to pick something else. However, my 11 year old daughter would not be bothered and nor would I. They can see far worse on TV and taking one passage does not reflect the whole book.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 21:18:01

If she'd had it from the public library then I would totally accept its my responsibility to bet the books she brings home. Dd is the 2nd oldest girl in the school.

AmelieRose Tue 12-Feb-13 21:13:30

Oops sorry just realised you said your DD is 11.

AmelieRose Tue 12-Feb-13 21:12:55

Are you complaining because it's in the library in general pictures? Or specifically because your DD has it? Did your DD take the book with her teacher's knowledge? What age is your DD?

Sorry for all the questions - just wanting to make sure I haven't got the wrong end of the stick!

Some children in your DD's school might be mature enough for it, so it being in the library wouldn't be an issue for me per se.

dogwood Tue 12-Feb-13 21:00:59

This book was on the book list at my DS's school. We listened to it on audiobook when he was 10. While he squirmed at these parts, it is a fantastic book in all other aspects. He has since finished the series and has a greater understanding of racism. It also really made him think and ask questions. What he learned far outweighed the more mature content in my eyes.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 20:57:51

Dd has just turned 11 and in year 6 but as its in the junior section of the library I guess it's accessible from year 3 upwards (they check out their own books on a computer.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 12-Feb-13 20:56:22

So am I justified in complaining to school tomorrow. Mil brought it to our attention. I thought she was unhappy at the racism & violence and thought she's mature enough to handle that - then I found the sex scene. Dd says the sequel is also in the school library.

AmelieRose Tue 12-Feb-13 20:49:53

Nope not suitable for junior school child IMO.

I'm a secondary teacher and only recommend it for mature readers even though it is advertised as for 11 and above. Have had some mature 11 year olds read it (with parental knowledge of content) but more suitable for 14 and older I think.

Brilliant book though when they are mature enough/parents happy for them to read it.

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