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They want to put an age band on children's books! Right there, on the cover! No! We can't let this happen! Let's have some consumer Mumsnet power please

150 replies

ahundredtimes · 07/06/2008 15:33

I think it's such a BAD idea.

In fact I think it's such a BAD idea I can't believe it ever got out of the board room.

Do you?

If you do then you can write here and tell them so.

[sits down, holds placard, adjusts wooly hat]

OP posts:
janeite · 07/06/2008 20:25

Well I read a Famous Five book in the bath the other night, cos I was so stressed out that I needed not to think at all. How old does that make me then?

talilac · 07/06/2008 20:29

at unquietdad's categories..

Shitemum · 07/06/2008 20:43

Can we copy the text in the link for our emails or are we supposed to write our own [lazy]?

I read vorasciously as a child (but 20 years abroad has ruined my spelling skills) and for a long time books were my best friends. I was already shy and ripe for bullying. My vocabularly was too advanced for my age and isolated me in a way. Eventually I tried to dumb it down in order to be accepted

..but I did win first prize in one of the Puffin Club's competitions! [proud]

JackieNo · 07/06/2008 20:45

I've emailed. I didn't put in any text except for my name and what I do (mother, reader).

UnquietDad · 07/06/2008 21:37

SPOTERA to Califrau.

Nighbynight · 07/06/2008 22:00

What on earth are you all getting your knickers in such a twist about?

Childrens books in france and germany often have "From X years" or "Reading level X" on them. It's extremely helpful when buying books, if you didn't happen to grow up with these authors.

roisin · 07/06/2008 22:13

I have signed up. This is such a bad idea. It could really put children off reading, and might also actually encourage others to choose to read less suitable material!

There's loads of info on the web and in bookshops on the content of books. Putting a number in black and white on the cover is just an appalling idea. I'm not surprised authors are up in arms.

Does anyone know what publishers are proposing this? I want to email them directly.

LittleBella · 07/06/2008 22:20

I don't see why children's reading should be disadvantaged because lazy adults can't be arsed to find out what sort of books are liked by the child for whom they're buying a present.

This is all for the benefit of lazy-arsed adults and none for children's.

If they can't be arsed to find out what sort of books the kid likes, they should either just buy anything on the off-chance (the kid might like it in 2 years time, why not introduce them to something they might otherwise not read etc.) or they should just stick to buying bits of plastic tat for landfill.

AbbeyA · 07/06/2008 22:20

It is not at all necessary, in fact it is a backward step. Children who are slow to learn to read are not going to want to be seen with a book that is lower than their age, but without the age printed on it they would have enjoyed it and been quite happy to read it. There is no way a 10 year old boy is going to read a book that has 7yr old on the back.
If you know the DC you can tell from the blurb and flicking through it whether it will be suitable. You can keep up to date and read book reviews.
I don't know how you can categorise them anyway. I like Winnie the Pooh much more as an adult than I did as a child.

AbbeyA · 07/06/2008 22:22

I agree LittleBella, it is for the benefit of lazy adults.They can easily do their own research.

Heated · 07/06/2008 22:25

This is such a crap idea, how on earth have we managed all these years??

Have emailed. Thanks for the link.

pollywobbledoodle · 07/06/2008 22:35

ridiculous idea, have emailed

Nighbynight · 07/06/2008 22:40

"lazy-arsed adults" - what nonsense. Do you not think of all the people who weren't born in the UK, and whose first language is not English?

LittleBella · 07/06/2008 22:43

Oh FGS if I were buying an Italian child a book, I would call their parents and ask for advice. Or if I were a parent in a country where I didn't speak the language, I would ask my child's teacher, other parents, etc., for their advice. I would not think publishers should discourage children from reading, for my convenience.

LittleBella · 07/06/2008 22:49

Also if you are buying in a bookshop, generally the books are marketed together - so if you are specifically buying for a kid who is 8, you will find all the books aimed at that age group on the same shelf and usually signposted by age. If you're buying on the internet (from Red House for example) the books are definitely listed by age. The kids don't know that though, luckily.

barnstaple · 07/06/2008 23:22

e-mailed. It's total nonsense and not actually in the publisher's interests. I was given a copy of Pride & Prejudice for my 8th birthday which wouldn't have happened if it'd been age banded and I wouldn't have tried to read it either.

Nighbynight · 07/06/2008 23:34

well I have tri-lingual children and live in another country, and it isn't that simple. the age recommendations are a great help.

Marina · 07/06/2008 23:52

I think age guidelines as per rustybear's reminders of the old Puffin blurbs "would suit children of nine and over, especially recommended for sensitive boys" , aren't a bad thing.
I have a child of eight who is a voracious and capable reader. I am fine with keeping a discreet eye on what he reads as far as my own knowledge of books goes...but I think therein lies the rub on this thread - we are all horrified by a crass publishers' strategy that none of us need.
"Ask a bookseller" - lovely idea in principle, how many of us have easy access to such a person in RL? I don't. I have Amazon and a dismal WH Smug. Just as well I know a lot about children's literature and also know where to look for further guidance.
I don't agree at all with the blunt "health warning" type proposals from the publishers, they are ridiculous. But I think we are all making some generous assumptions about the book-buying public on this thread. Most of the posters here are all highly educated and professionally involved with books in some way.
So yes, petition signed, but I can see a role for some helpful, non-prescriptive guidelines on appropriate reading levels.
And tbh I do take issue with Pullman's lofty assumption that his books are entirely suitable for a clever seven year old and no-one should question this. The Northern Lights Trilogy is a perfect example of superb, alluring, emotionally complex writing that is IMO NOT ideal for most children under ten. Let it wait until they can really relate to what it means to lose your soul and fall properly in love.
And as for the annoying jobsworths at your local library jamila - those policies were almost certainly not devised by professional, qualified librarians because they are almost gone from public libraries at branch level. As a profession we are all about access to books and freedom of expression. That stupid rule will have been imposed by a Leisure Tsar who also looks after swimming pools and is shit-scared of being sued.

AbbeyA · 08/06/2008 07:46

Nighbynight-the books in a bookshop are already grouped according to age-that should be quite sufficient. I have e-mailed.

OrmIrian · 08/06/2008 07:52

What's the point? In terms of ability does it matter? If a book is too hard they can put it down, if it's too easy what? In terms of content I read Lady Chatterley's love at age 8. I found the sex incomprehensible. Only lasting effect is that I f*ing hate DHL (but I think that would have been the case even without early trauma

Heated · 08/06/2008 08:03

My teenage classes do some free reading every lesson. There is a real range of ability. Putting ages on books could well put off my weaker readers through embarrassment, combined with what other students might say. There will also be books that they won't touch because someone in publishing has deemed them too infantile.

What are they going to class Animal Farm? The Curious Incident...?...these are two books I can think of off the top of my head that are set at KS3 and Alevel because of the different level of readings they can given.

The system works very well as it is. Leave it alone.

EffiePerine · 08/06/2008 08:03

bloody stupid idea

What happened to reading the books you enjoy, rather than those appropriate for your age? I HATED most of the 'age-suitable' books available when I was about 11 or 12 and just read what I fancied (OK, a lot of it was crap, but some good stuff got in there)


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EffiePerine · 08/06/2008 08:05

also note that the last books I read were the Hound of the Baskervilles and William the Conquerer (suitable for boys age 10+)

gladbag · 08/06/2008 08:10

Have emailed.

Shells · 08/06/2008 08:19

Sorry. None of you who think its crazy have read the whole story. The media are lapping this up of course but its the result of some very thorough research into what people want when they buy children's books (or borrow them). And the VAST majority of people want help.

In the same way that you use age ranging as a guidance when buying children's clothes (and disregard it if you have a very small or very big child) - it is extremely helpful.

And the comments about age ranging for adults are just silly. You are obviously mostly very capable readers yourselves and don't need the help. Why are you begrudging it to others?

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