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Appropriate reading when they read everything in sight?

(43 Posts)
DubaiAnna Tue 10-Sep-13 10:40:01

Hi all,
DS is 8 (oldest of 3) and is devouring books, which we encourage by keeping the bookshelves stocked - lots of top ups from the local charity shops and various other sources. He's read a couple of Kindle books, but I like him to have the feel of a real book, plus the security that I can see what he's reading.

But how do we keep an eye on the appropriateness of what he's reading? Yesterday he borrowed Harry Potter Deathly Hallows from the school library. I have only read the first few HP books, but HP is 16/17 now, and although the few pages I flicked through last night were not objectionable, I feel uneasy about this (have kept it with me until I have a chance to read more). I don't want to hold him back, and I know that readers will always get to material which is beyond their years - but how do you monitor your young child's reading, and are there particular books you keep him away from? Same for movies really - but I am even more conservative on that point. Would love to hear from others at a similar stage or who are a little way ahead with your DC...

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Tue 10-Sep-13 10:45:22

You just tell them they can't read it until they are older. I let ds read the first 3 HP's but he tricked his dad into handing over the 4th. I buy a lot of appropriate books and order things from the library so he doesn't have to read stuff for older kids out of desperation. I don't think he would be traumatised buy HP (although he is very sensitive) I just don't think it's good to read a story that you are not really mature enough to understand because it might be really good but you will think it is shit because you miss all the layers.

Periwinkle007 Tue 10-Sep-13 11:05:36

mine are still young but one is reading way above her age and I do control her books. I agree that I think there is nothing wrong with saying 'no this book is aimed at older children and you wouldn't understand it yet, would be scared by it, wouldn't enjoy it' or whatever.

I do think you are right to protect him, he is still only 8 and there are a lot of books out there that whilst some children like them/read them doesn't mean your child will or that you want them to yet. If he wants something more challenging but that you know will be acceptable then try Just William and the older books from our childhood.

ClayDavis Tue 10-Sep-13 11:11:52

I'm not sure I agree with, IThink. As a precocious and prolific child reader I never had to read stuff out of desperation because I had nothing else to read. There was always something with words in. The only stuff which I was desperate to read was stuff which I had been told I couldn't Stephen King.

I don't think there's anything wrong with reading books above your maturity level either. Yes, you won't get all the levels, but you can still enjoy it. I've had a huge amount of enjoyment from reading Les Mis and finding something different each time I read it. There are some books, I didn't enjoy but have gone back and read and changed my mind and others I loved as a child but really didn't enjoy as an adult.

simpson Tue 10-Sep-13 11:21:39

DS is also 8 and will only be allowed the first 3 HP books. He has nearly finished the 2nd.

It is hard to think about what they can read and the HT at my DC school joked to the parents that we will have to read the books first to see if they are suitable!!

With DS I am going to steer him towards Stig of the Dump next I think...

DD (5) would read much older/inappropriate books if she was allowed.

I agree with claydavis DD can read The BFG to herself and really enjoy it but I am sure if she re-reads it in a years time she will get more out of it but that doesn't make it pointless to read now iyswim.

ClayDavis Tue 10-Sep-13 11:29:20

There are plenty of books where it's gone the other way too, Simpson. Some of the more grown up stuff I enjoyed at an 8 year old level just reading the story I find unreadable as an adult.

MissManaged Tue 10-Sep-13 11:39:19

I tend to agree with Clay
Also a very precocious reader, I read everything I could lay hands on, was particularly drawn to books I "shouldn't" read and hated being offered books aimed at my age group because I was reading at an adult level before I left primary school.

If you are not emotionally ready for some things they do go over your head (at least I don't recall much of the Karma Sutra and I got hold of that at 10)

I think the solution is to feed the dragon, rather than ban it from some areas!
Rather than telling him what he can't read, provide as many books as you possibly can which are at his reading level, not his age level, but which you consider to be appropriate, As mentioned, banning is just a red rag to a reading bull, because it might be the best book EVER.

Stock up on acceptable materials so you always have something new to put under his nose.
And revel in his achievement. The reading bug will stand him in very good stead smile

Runningchick123 Tue 10-Sep-13 12:41:43

My son is also an avid reader and He read all of the Harry potter books when he was 8. I was very unsure about letting him read them as the target age is apparently two years younger than the man character ages for each of the books. However, almost everyone in his class had watched the films and survived without emotional damage and I think that the visual graphic nature of the films is more concerning than the book. He read them and he wasn't frightened or disturbed and he has now (a year later) watched all of the films.
I'm sure that lots of people won't agree with me letting an 8 year old read the books, but its not exactly fifty shades of grey and he hasn't been changed in any way by reading them.
He still likes reading beast quest books (but can easily read 4 of these in one day) so needs something more challenging and lengthy.
He's read the hbbit and is desparate t read The Lord of the rings, but i Have drawn the line on that until he is a least 12.
Michael mopurgo books and Alex rider books are also good for 8 year old avid readers.
Most books with content aimed at 8 year olds are just not lengthy enough for avid readers.

gybegirl Tue 10-Sep-13 12:56:21

I find books that my dd (7) will like to read by herself. If they are in the under 13 section of the library she generally gets free-rein (so long as they are comedy and not sci-fi).
Questionable ones we read together or I read first (she gets her speed reading genes from mesmile). We've read the first three Harry Potter's together like this (mainly as I love them too and wanted to share the experience of them with her) and now she's re-reading them herself. I'll read number 4 with her once I've finished with Ruby Redfort (again target audience clearly older).
When I read with her it's not a school lesson. I occasionally aske her if she knows what a particular word means but there's no Q&A just pure enjoyment.

thegreylady Tue 10-Sep-13 13:22:13

When I was 8 [1952] we didn't have many books and I was desperate to read.I used to go up to my grandparents' back bedroom where I skip read the complete works of charles Dickens,the Universal Home Doctor and The Universal Home Lawyer [which defeated me very quickly].There was also a beautiful book bound in white leather and with tissue between the pages.It was a wonderful edition of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.I have never forgotten the first time I read "beyond the shadow of the ship,I saw the water snakes" or saw the terrifying illustration of The Nightmare Life in Death.
Honestly I was between 7 and 10 and I loved those reading sessions.As long as there is no pornography or explicit violence/horror let your children read what they will.

avolt Tue 10-Sep-13 14:02:50

I have allowed my 8 year old to move onto the 4th Harry Potter. I don't really mind scary stuff. I'm more careful with some of the Jacqueline Wilson books - there's one about a mum going into a coma at childbirth and her other daughter coping which I felt was too harrowing. Quite often I read the book first and see if I think it's appropriate. Horrible histories are quite good. Someone suggested the Lemony Snicket series to me but I haven't read any yet to see what they're like.

lostintoys Tue 10-Sep-13 14:50:51

My seven-year-old read the first three ry Potters over the summer but I wouldn't let him read number 4. What did he come back with after the first visit to the school library? The fourth Harry Potter. So I think that banning a book can make it more attractive but there are subtle ways of steering them in the right direction.

wearingatinhat Tue 10-Sep-13 15:03:22

My DS seems to self select and finds it hard to get into books which I would think too old. I never hold books back as I think it would make them more attractive. If he reads things that are 'inappropriate' he seems to just not understand and therefore they are OK, however I am always alert to the fact that he could suddenly understand something he should not iyswim.

I had a very anxious moment when he picked up my shades of grey - I held my breath but because I did not react, he swiftly put it down - phew! I was also very upset when I realised the content of the 'Boy with the striped pyjamas', I discussed with DH and we agreed to discuss with him to help deal with the sensitivities, in the event it all went straight over his head and he did not realise that the boy in the story ended up in a gas chamber. He enjoyed the book somehow, without the full understanding, but I still feel very upset about him reading this book

MrsDeVere Tue 10-Sep-13 15:09:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

motherinferior Tue 10-Sep-13 15:14:36

Yep, just let them get on with it. Hide the sex manuals and discourage the gorier thrillers (and I have a lot of gory thrillers) - life's too short to police your children's reading. How on earth would you contain your own books?

LOTR is absolutely fine for an eight year old, btw.

mistlethrush Tue 10-Sep-13 15:15:41

Runningchick - its interesting that you say the graphic quality of the film makes it more frightening - DS has already decided that some books are better than the films because 'what you see in your head' is better than what the film makers come up with. (He's 8).

I was reading PGWoodehouse etc when I was 10 as there were no more children's books for me to read in the library. I read Bleak House at 11 cover to cover in 3 days as we were on holiday and I was running short of books.

lostintoys Tue 10-Sep-13 16:03:13

I think that the Harry Potter books are actually MORE frightening than the films.

Pachacuti Tue 10-Sep-13 16:07:37

Older books are good for getting the right reading level without inappropriate content -- say Eva Ibbotson, Edith Nesbit, Joan Aiken, Rumer Godden, Rosemary Sutcliff, Leon Garfield, etc., etc.

Runningchick123 Tue 10-Sep-13 16:32:35

Mistlethrush - I suppose it depends how good the individuals imagination is and whether they are a visual thinker or not as to whether they find books more vivid or films. In any case my son has read the ooks and watched the films and wasn't disturbed by any.
I'm quite sure he's going to nag me about The Lord of the rings books until his dad caves in and let's him have them to read.
Has anybody here read the lord of the rings? If anyody has can you please tell me how unsuitable it is likely to be?

ClayDavis Tue 10-Sep-13 17:52:18

thegreylady, the complete works of Dickens was what I had in mind when I was talking abut stuff I enjoyed as an 8 year old but find unreadable now.

dollybird Tue 10-Sep-13 19:42:06

my DD has just turned 10 and is currently reading Deathly Hallows. She's seen all the films (got them for her birthday). She's also read The Hobbit. For her birthday she got The Dark is Rising series, a Terry Pratchett and Artemis Fowl, all recommendations from on here.

motherinferior Tue 10-Sep-13 19:49:41

You haven't read LOTR??

It's fine. I read it at eight. Mind you I read - and enjoyed - Jane Eyre at seven.

MrsCakesPremonition Tue 10-Sep-13 19:59:13

I was reading anything and everything from around the age of 9 or 10. Daphne Du Maurier, Len Deighton, Casino Royale (seriously unsuitable with hindsight). I don't think I read the books with the understanding of an adult, so quite a lot went over my head and I've only spotted stuff on rereading as I've got older. I think the important thing as a parent is to be prepared to keep communication open, try not to ban anything but be ready to talk through any ideas or issues that crop up.
I can honestly say that I've never been damaged by anything I've read but I've always steered clear of horror because I'm a coward and luckily my parents didn't own any horror books.

ClayDavis Tue 10-Sep-13 20:29:49

I'd agree with that MrsCakes. There were only 2 books my mum banned me from reading at primary age (although tbf, there wasn't any need to ban the rest of the Stephen King books after I'd read the first half of the one I got my hands on). My friend's mum was pretty straight laced and banned a lot of stuff, particularly anything aimed at teenagers with more mature story lines - a lot of Judy Blume springs to mind here. What we read in years 5, 6 and 7 was pretty similar and we often swapped books. The difference was my mum knew what I was reading and we could discuss it.

Ferguson Tue 10-Sep-13 20:34:18

I think Arthur Ransome books are excellent, as they are interesting adventures that also impart the history and way of life of the period (1930s), AND if one is really keen you can pretty well learn to sail from them!

"Coot Club" is particularly good as it is set in real places in the Norfolk Broads. All the villages, rivers, broads etc mentioned in the story can be found on the Ordnance Survey 2-1/2" Broads map. This can give the added interest of following the route in considerable detail. Apart from there being less railway lines, and more major roads, surprisingly little has changed since the'30s!

Another book that can be followed on large scale maps, as well as on dedicated web sites is "Watership Down". The housing development that destroyed the rabbits' first home, is on the outskirts of Newbury.

MCP - I read Du Maurier for the first time a couple of years ago - at the age of 73, and now 'hooked'.

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