are books rated like movies

Why Don’t Books Have Ratings Like Movies?

age appropriate books

There’s several reasons why books don’t have ratings like movies. Movie ratings developed during the 37 years that film was not protected by the first amendment . There are more than 2000 times as many books published annually than the number of movies produced. Opposition cites fear of censorship. There’s a lack of funding and support for a rating system. Some insist that parents should monitor children’s reading and every reader should decide for themselves. There are independent rating systems for a limited number of books, but they don’t have wide spread support .

A fundamental underlying question is why does there need to be a book rating system? To protect children? For all ages to make informed decisions about their reading? As a short cut for choosing books?

The question remains: Why don’t books have ratings like movies?

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I found the history of the movie rating system fascinating .

A 1915 United States Supreme Court landmark decision firmly established that censorship could be applied to film. Mutual Film Corporation was a newsreel company that was getting annoyed by the fees and slow turn around time on what they could show and couldn’t show. They insisted that film should be protected under the First Amendment, freedom of speech, and should not be subjected to censorship. The Supreme Court disagreed. In  Mutual v. Ohio Industrial Commission , Chief Justice Edward White wrote, “the exhibition of moving pictures is a business, pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit like other spectacles, and not to be regarded as part of the press of the country or as organs of public opinion within the meaning of freedom of speech and publication.”

The movie industry created their own organization, The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America to combat government censorship. They lobbied Washington for freedom to make the movies they wanted, at the same time they coached movie makers on how to stay away from objectionable material, eventually acting in collaboration with religious organizations.

In 1952, the Supreme Court reversed their decision and included movies in the protection of free speech and free press guarantee of the first amendment. But, by that time movie ratings were already part of the picture. They continued to evolve, expanding and changing as landmark movies came along to challenge the status quo, leaving us with the ratings that we have today (G, PG, PG-13, NC-17, R and X)

Just like the disastrous experiment of Prohibition, America eventually reinforced it’s commitment to freedom. At the same time, it surfaced the need for society to curb the most destructive elements of the culture.

Enough members of society were concerned about offensive content that limited information, in the form of ratings, are provided for people to make a more informed decision about the movies they watch.

too many books

There’s Too Many Books

More than 300,000 books are published annually in the U.S. according to information of the day’s website .

Wide circulation movies are released at the rate of roughly 130 a year. That means an influx of more than 2000 times as many books than movies.

The sheer enormity of the task makes it a logistical impossibility. On the other hand, if 30,000 people rated 10 books a year, it would be an easy assignment.

One idea is that the publishers themselves rate the books and give reasons for the rating. The big problem there is that makes the ratings biased and you don’t have any type of standard for comparing one book to another. 

if(typeof ez_ad_units != 'undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[468,60],'purplecrayonyourworld_com-banner-1','ezslot_12',105,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-purplecrayonyourworld_com-banner-1-0'); T he Problem of Funding 

Who’s going to pay the expenses for reviewers to rate 300,000 books a year? The book industry? Publishers and distributors? Consumers? Independent funding? 

Ultimately, someone would have to pay the cost. 

But, without book ratings, I think we’re paying the price, regardless. And the price is high. 

In the movie industry, the movie makers themselves can absorb the cost of ratings into their budget.

Could publishers do that as well? They could. At least the big houses could. It might be a problem for self-published books, or those released by small publishers with limited resources.

Fear of Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship says, “book ratings are not such a good idea and would inevitably lead to censorship.”

According to the American Library Association,

“Librarians employ objective professional judgment through selection, cataloging, classification, and readers’ services to make available the information that library patrons want or need. Cataloging decisions, labels, or ratings applied in an attempt to restrict or discourage access to materials or to suggest moral or doctrinal endorsement is a violation of the First Amendment and Library Bill of Rights.”

So the battle over book ratings and censorship covers a much deeper issue: what are appropriate themes for kids and young people? What are we teaching our kids through our literature? 

How can we help them develop the values that they need? 

How can we protect the rights of the parents to teach what they believe is best, and not leave it to the educators and the government? Religious and sexual education are the responsibility of the parents. Educators and governments should not undermine beliefs taught at home and church. 

Governments should protect the rights of the family and the church to educate children, not destroy those rights. 

Some would argue that that’s not the case at all, that book ratings are just information in order to make a more informed decision. Some would call it a short cut. 

I think it’s a valid point. Just because a book is rated for content doesn’t mean it’s singled out for censorship. 

Some books aren’t appropriate for young children and weren’t written for them . Nadine Brandes, an author of YA books expounds.

Authors want to reach their intended readers. For me, that’s young adults and adults who like clean, but sometimes gritty Christian dystopian. I frequently tell parents, “I recommend my book for ages 15-and-up.” This helps readers know if the book might be for them. A parent isn’t going to give it to their 7-year-old (I hope.)

book ratings to help adults find age appropriate books for kids

Belief that it’s the Parents’ Job to Monitor Kids’ Reading

Pre-reading everything a young person reads is a logistical impossibility, even for parents who really care and are in touch.

What if you have a voracious reader who’s 10 and one who’s 14? They don’t have a job or adult responsibilities. They want to read the hot new books that everyone’s talking about. There’s no way you can stay ahead of them.

There’s a lot to be said for free reading and letting your children choose their own books. But you can control the pond they fish from, even if they’re checking out books from school and the public library. You can also teach them to be discerning and show them how to find good books. 

Granted there are plenty of kids who don’t have parents monitoring their reading. The parents are too busy, too preoccupied, too sick, working too much, too stressed, fighting addictions or just focused on survival instead of parenting. 

Teachers, coaches, social workers, school counselors and administrators stand in the gap for at risk children. Sometimes they have the kids’ best interest at heart. Sometimes they don’t. 

some books are rated

Book Ratings Exist For a Limited Number of Books

There’s been some momentum to create a national book rating system, but it hasn’t gained much support. 

Karyn at Teach Beside Me started a petition in 2015 at for the American Library Association to develop a national book rating system. The petition garnered 63 supporters before it closed. 

Even though there’s not a universal rating system, there are some sites rating book content .

Common Sense Media currently has 5961 rated book reviews for kids and teens. 

Rated Reads also has it’s own system which includes rated book reviews for kids and adults.

Compass Book Ratings is another site that rates the content of books.

There are other websites and book review blogs that also address the problem by including content ratings along with book reviews.

But these independent websites don’t use a universal rating system. Each one has it’s own. 

Whose rating system are you going to use?

There’s so many variabilities associated with age and maturity levels. Choosing an arbitrary age for appropriate material is hard. Maturity doesn’t equal chronological age. Reading level often doesn’t correlate well with chronological age, either. 

In spite of all the drawbacks of the movie rating system, it still serves it’s purpose and is reliable within it’s limitations. It works as a shortcut to watching the whole movie. 

A book rating system gives you a shortcut so you don’t have to read through the whole book. 

books as art

Trusting a Person Sometimes Works Better than Trusting a Rating System 

I believe the scarcest commodity today is trust . 

There are a plethora of book bloggers out there. They can give you the inside scoop of books without giving spoilers.

There is an advantage to following one person and going with their book recommendations. It comes down to an issue of trust. If you trust a person and agree with their world view, then you’ll be aligned with their values and the chance of their picks being winners for you is going to be high. 

My top two people to trust for kids’ books are Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival and Sarita Holzmann at Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum.

You can also check out my list of top picks for babies and for toddlers .

An independent list of recommendations, like Read Aloud Revival or Sonlight Curriculum works well for young children. They can’t buy books or check them out from the library. 

But, at some point they will be able to choose their own books and obtain them for themselves. 

Which leads us to the next question—

Should Books have Content Ratings Like Movies?

I say yes. 

Information is not censorship. 

If you’re a Muslim parent, you don’t want your children to be secretly indoctrinated as Christians.

If you’re opposed to the LGBTQ agenda, you don’t want your children to be secretly taught that it’s the only acceptable moral code. 

Children’s books shouldn’t have hidden agendas. 

Adult readers should not be blindsided by offensive content. It ruins the pleasures of the reading experience. 

There simply is not enough time to personally preview every full length book out there. 

We need the shortcuts of ratings. 

And what happens without them? This is the danger I see.

The Problem of Hidden Agendas

Many people would like to impose their world view on all children.

This is a problem, no matter who’s doing it. 

It’s a problem is LGBTQ activists are doing it. It’s a problem if Muslim activists are doing it. It’s a problem if Christian activists are doing it. 

It violates our freedoms. 

Most people don’t want someone else’s world view forced on their child. 

Again, a violation of our freedoms. 

If we truly believe in freedom of religion, then we can’t expect our beliefs to be tolerated and someone else’s persecuted. 

You can’t have it both ways. 

People shouldn’t be hiding their agendas in books for children and young people. They should be upfront about what they are espousing. 

If you want me to give you freedom to believe what you want, then you need to extend that same courtesy to me. 

Are you aware that book censorship has changed? Read my post Banned Books: How Censorship has Shifted, Why it Matters and What to Do About it.

Check out my top books for babies and toddlers by clicking here.

are books rated like movies

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are books rated like movies

No, Books Should Not Have Content Ratings Like Movies

One of the great joys of my young life was reading books pitched to older children. Graduating from picture books to chapter books with pictures, then chapter books, then longer and longer books was a big deal to me. For kids’ books in the U.S., you can usually find an age range somewhere on the flap or back cover of a book. Readers and people acquiring books for readers occasionally use this as a guide for getting books for appropriate ages. In recent years, certain groups have demanded a more robust rating system for books, similar to the MPAA rating system for movies . However, there are many reasons why books should not have content ratings like movies.

The general idea behind a “rating” system for kids’ books makes sense to me. The widespread availability of the Internet means that kids have access to some of the worst information ever documented with just a few keystrokes. Technology companies attempt to keep up with this freedom by providing methods of blocking content that could be upsetting or out-of-age-range for young children. The problem with books is that there’s no way to automatically censor content in books unless you ban them, rip out specific pages, or cross out certain words with a permanent marker.

Since books are longer and more involved than movies, they’re trickier to pin down with exact content ratings. Including age ranges can sort of help, but they don’t tell you much about the content. A 10 year old is also unlikely to have the exact same experiences or sensitivities as a 10 year old from a different country, or even one from a different neighborhood.

How Do Rating Systems Work?

Rating systems serve to place various types of media into understandable buckets. In the world of print media, the Comics Code Authority ruled the comics world with an iron fist for many years. Comics without the CCA stamp would not be stocked in stores — it was a symbol to parents that these comics were safe. The designation fizzled out eventually.

For films, the first major attempt to reign in saucy or shocking content was the Motion Picture Production Code (commonly known as the Hays Code ), which most movie studios adhered to from 1934 to 1968. In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America took over movie ratings guidance. They started with G (general audiences/all ages), M (mature), R (restricted — those under 17 require supervision), and X (no one under 16 admitted). In the 1980s, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom received pushback for their PG ratings , which led to the creation of PG-13.


Jon Lewis, author of Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry , argues that the ratings are subjective by design . We can see what he means in how certain movies are declared to be far more “adult” than others. For example, the movie Blue Valentine almost received an NC-17 rating because of a scene in which Ryan Gosling’s character performs oral sex on Michelle Williams’ character.

Gosling spoke out against this because he felt it stigmatized the act of a woman receiving pleasure, whereas other movies with oral sex performed on men tended to receive simple R ratings. This was also the birth of the feminist Ryan Gosling meme — if you remember that time on the Internet, this is your sign to stretch your weary bones.

The MPAA also historically gives R ratings or higher to movies with queer characters, even when there are no sex scenes. One of my favorite movies, Pride, received an R rating for simply dealing with the topic of AIDS and queerness. There are a few kisses between men and no nudity.

What Does This Mean for Books?

Parents don’t even seem to like the MPAA rating system all that much, criticizing it for desensitizing children to violence . So what’s the argument for a rating system for books?

The idea is that kids should not have access to stories that could upset them or expose them to difficult topics. The rating system outlined on Book Cave uses seven categories (crude humor/language, profanity, drug and alcohol use, kissing, nudity, sex and intimacy, and violence and horror), and then rates each category on a scale from All Ages to Adult+. The book is then weighted for a final rating. Common Sense Media gives detailed advice about how to assess various aspects of books and how to choose them for children, and promises to provide detailed reviews to help parents, guardians, and other stakeholders make decisions.

a photo of a bookshelf with glasses

Age ranges and reading levels are also very hit-or-miss. Reading levels were introduced in schools to make sure students were keeping up with reading demands, so there were lots of numbers introduced to explain these levels. The important part of reading levels is that children should be able to ingest and understand the majority of the book they’re reading so they don’t get discouraged. However, kids should challenge themselves with books theoretically outside of their level so they don’t get bored.

If reading levels are determined by word difficulty alone, that can also make books look less complex than they are. Age ranges and reading levels are somewhat necessary for educators to build curricula, but kids should always be allowed to seek books outside of their “level” or assigned classroom work. I’m an advocate of the method “bring kid to library and let them explore for three hours,” as my caretakers did for me.

There are problems with rating systems that use categories to determine appropriateness as well. A book might not have violence in it explicitly, but it could have imagery that gives your child a nightmare. We can’t determine how kids will react to reading in general, so over-arching rules and categorical rating systems are limited.

Rating systems that determine how “adult” a book is also impose a certain kind of life experience on childhood. They present a monolithic idea of maturity: a child can only read about violent content when they’re of the age to be familiar with it. There are children in the world who are familiar with curse words, or have experience with violent or upsetting events. “Milestones” in childhood are impossible to pinpoint because people’s life experiences are so wildly different.

Reading about difficult topics, whether or not children have experienced them, can be a good way to process complex emotions. It’s also an important way for children to develop language and understanding around “inappropriate” topics.

How Levels and Ratings Work in Real Life

At the surface, none of this sounds necessarily bad . Parents obviously want kids to read, but they don’t want kids diving into books with intense horror that will scare a 7 year old or overt descriptions of sex before a parent has had ‘The Talk’ with their kid.

There are so many ways that these restrictions fail young readers. Saying that you can’t read a book until you’ve had an experience is very silly. For example, if a book includes a description of a person getting their first period, you could theoretically say that is inappropriate for 11 year olds. Well, what if you’re one of those people who got their period at a very young age? Or what if you don’t get it until you’re a little older? There are simply too many differing life experiences to impose a general rule of propriety on all kids and teens.

In covering censorship news, Book Riot routinely comes across groups like Moms for Liberty advocating for “parental rights.” Danika Ellis explained the shortcomings of their kind of thinking:

“Groups like this advocating for “parental rights” assume that parents are inherently conservative. They treat their perspective as ‘common sense,’ that no parent would want their kids to have access to a picture book that shows a boy wearing a dress, or their teenager to be able to read a book with a sex scene in it, or one that teaches safer sex practices, or one that discusses rape. But there are just as many (and likely many more) parents who want their kids to be able to access LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and diverse books.”

Cover of The Hate U Give

These parental rights groups are also obsessed with censoring and banning books that deal with race , hiding the very fact of non-white people from their lily-white delicate students. Mega-popular YA books All American Boys and The Hate U Give are routinely challenged and banned by parents who feel the subject matter is inappropriate for children. I have to assume they’re using the categories of profanity and violence to support their bigoted arguments.

But How Do We Protect the Children?

I’m not a parent, so I can’t viscerally understand the need to protect your child from the various horrors of the world. The technology available to kids means that we have very little control over what they see. We can keep telling kids not to talk to strangers, but much of the information out there is out of our control.

I see how people obsessed with controlling kids’ access to information landed on books. It’s a discrete physical item that you can remove from a library, a school, or your child’s bookshelf. Removing something “dangerous” gives the illusion of safety. We’ve saved the children by not allowing them to read Maus !

I’m personally of the opinion that all reading is good reading. Even if a kid doesn’t like a book, it’s an opportunity for a conversation. If they read something particularly scary or upsetting, it’s an opening to discuss potentially difficult topics in a safer way. I would prefer my child learn about upsetting facts through a book than through encountering them in real life. Words on a page are a safer way to experience and explore emotions.

No matter what we want to protect our children from, there’s probably a kid out there who has experienced something similar. Fiction is a safer place to explore difficult topics, but it is important for parents to find books that handle difficult topics with care. The resources I recommend for finding books for your children already exist: children’s librarians, summaries on back covers, and discussions with other people about what they thought of particular books.

I think a lot of us want to construct an impenetrable circle of safety around young people. I’m deeply upset by how many awful things happen to children every day, and I wish I could preserve their innocence by clicking my fingers and stopping school shootings in the United States. Taking away books doesn’t save them, though. Words on the page are ultimately much safer to experience than anything in the real world, but books are easier to point to as the problem. The real world and the terrible things that happen to children are harder to control and harder to stomach.

Book Riot covers censorship news and ways to resist book bans , and you can also check out these books for beginning readers and tips for helping beginning readers .

Book Cave: free ebooks!

How our Book Content Rating System Works

Book Content Rating System

Wondering how the book content rating system on Book Cave works? Not sure what ratings to sign up for? Let us help out.

What Is Our Book Content Rating System?

On Book Cave, we use the ebook content rating system from our sister site My Book Ratings (or MBR). MBR ratings are a lot like movie ratings, and they’re divided into six groups: All Ages, Mild, Mild+, Moderate, Moderate+,  Adult, and Adult+. All Ages is good for young children, with Mild being similar to a very “mild” PG movie. Both Mild+ and Moderate ratings will be somewhere around a PG or a PG-13 rating, with the moderate having slightly more intense language, heat, and violence.

Books are assigned ratings based on seven categories : crude humor/language , profanity , drug and alcohol use , kissing , nudity , sex and intimacy , and violence and horror . Within each of these categories there are levels of varying degrees, which are assigned a rating (All Ages, Mild, Mild+, Moderate, Moderate+, Adult, and Adult+). The book itself is assigned an overall rating in relation to the highest level across all categories, and the individual rating level for each of the categories is also listed in the daily deals email and on the book’s page.

For example,  a book may be rated the following way: Moderate for moderate crude humor/language, some profanity (6 to 40), non-detailed fade-out sensuality, and moderate violence; also contains mild kissing.  In this case, the overall rating for the book will be Moderate because of all 7 categories, Moderate is the highest rating.

So lets deconstruct this book’s rating:

In other words, when you sign up for books rated Moderate, that does not mean that the books will have a Moderate rating in every category (i.e. up to 40 swears, moderate crude humor, passionate kissing, non-graphic discussion of sex, implied closed-door sex, moderate nudity, significant violence, and moderate drug and alcohol use). Instead, it means that at least one of those seven categories is rated as Moderate.

For example, a book may contain significant violence but have no swearing, no sex scenes, no drug or alcohol use, and no crude humor, and yet it will still be rated Moderate+. The rating would look like this: Moderate+ for significant violence.

Choosing a rating does not automatically select all the ratings below it. Let’s say you choose Moderate+. You are now signed up for books that have been given an overall rating of Moderate+, but you are not signed up for books with an overall rating of Moderate, Mild+, Mild, or All Ages. If you want those books as well, you must click the selection boxes for each of those ratings individually.

Some Tips From Us

If you want some romance in your books but don’t want intimacy, sign up for Mild and Mild+. If you prefer your romances with a bit more heat, from some discussion of sex to closed-door scenes, choose Moderate and Moderate+. For up to three on-screen sex scenes, choose Adult. For erotica, choose Adult+.

If you want action and adventure with fight scenes and violence, sign up for Moderate, Moderate+, or Adult. You would sign up for this rating even if you didn’t want any intimacy or swearing or crude humor. Then you’d look at the warnings on each book to make sure it has only the violence and not the other content you don’t want.

If you’re looking for children’s books or nonfiction advice and how-to books, be sure to sign up for All Ages. Very few books are All Ages because most books have some violence, kissing, intimacy, or alcohol use. Think of a book that is rated All Ages as similar to a clean How It’s Made episode or a show like Sesame Street .

If you’re not getting many books in your inbox, take a look at your ratings and change them to also include levels that are below the level you signed up for. So if you only signed up for Moderate, consider signing up for Mild+ and Mild as well. If the content isn’t as intense as you’d like, try signing up for a higher level.

We’ll Tell You Exactly What You’re Getting

In our emails and on our site, we’ll tell you what the book is rated and why. That way, if, for example, you want books with action and fight scenes, but no kissing or intimacy, you can check the rating description and only get the books that match your preference. Here are some examples of our ratings to help you get a feel for how our book content rating system  works:

Genre: Picture Books. Rating: All Ages

How our Book Content Rating System Works - all ages

Genre: Christian Fiction. Rating: Mild for mild kissing

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Mild

Genre: Mysteries & Suspense, Cozy. Rating:  Mild+ for mild sensuality; also contains mild (nonsexual) violence

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Mild+

Genre: Teen & Young Adult Fiction. Rating: Moderate for moderate violence; also contains mild kissing (If you want violence but no intimacy, you would get this book.)

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Moderate

Genre: Romance, Contemporary. Rating: Moderate+ for fade-out intimacy with details or significant sexual discussion; also contains moderate crude humor/language, mild substance use, passionate kissing, some profanity (6 to 40), brief nudity, and some violence (If you want a bit more heated intimacy but not much violence, you would get this book.)

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Moderate+

Genre: Historical Fiction. Rating: Adult for non-graphic sex; also contains passionate kissing, moderate profanity (41 to 100), brief nudity, and moderate violence (If you want on-screen sex with only a few details but no crude humor or drug use, and less violence, you would get this book. Please note that there is also an adult level of “graphic sex,” and books with that level will include up to three scenes with details.)

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Adult

Genre: Thriller. Rating: Adult for graphic violence; also contains moderate crude humor/language, mild kissing, some profanity (6 to 40), and non-graphic sexual references  (If you’re fine with graphic violence and crude humor, but prefer only some profanity and no on-screen sex, you would get this book.)

How our Book Content Rating System Works - Adult

You get the idea! Remember to sign up for all the content ratings you think you might like in your preferences . You can always choose whether or not to download a book when you see the ratings it has for each category in the ebook-deals email we’ll send to you. And as always, let us know if you have any questions.

Happy Reading!

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Copyright 2016 by Book Cave

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Avatar for Catia Shattuck

I am a copyeditor and a typesetter of print books, and have been editing and typesetting (using InDesign) for twelve years. As the executive editor at Book Cave, I enjoy helping authors be successful, and I only get interrupted a little bit (ha!) by my cute, rambunctious one-year-old.

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I was supposed to receive a number to get into app. I never received one.

Linda T.

I have needed you for many years. Not just for myself ( I don’t read books with sexuality, language, content that is against my Christian character). Which believe me -removes 95% of books I love to read-sci-fi, thriller, mystery. But worse, the lack of rating system that is in place for movies and music, allowed my 16 year old to check out fifty shades of gray from her high school library-without my knowledge or approval. I found it hiding Under her bed, all excuses aside, it was the adults responsible for her having the availability. In high school I was the parent the dean of English hated, and I was often my daughter was made the scapegoat for parental morality. On the opposite side-so many parents agreed with me but too afraid to sacrifice their child’s grades, or ‘standing’ with the advanced English department. Perfect example is ‘the things they carried’ for Vietnam vet FICTION book. Due to my ‘up in arms’ attitude, my daughter was required to get a 5 paragraph review from her grandfather who actually served in the Vietnam war, in combat and read the REAL-LIFE story of POW John MCCain. Parents said they were afraid their child would get a low grade or be treated unfairly if they stood with me. My daughter was a -suma cum laude for her masters and grad school. She is a smart independent woman-I believe partly because she saw me stand for what was right. My morals and beliefs were not arbitrary or moveable. Sadly, she has few friends parents she can respect due to how they acted. What made me know? I read the book. It could not be read aloud in class because it would break the honor code, yet it was ok for my child to read female-shaming words as acceptable because ppl spoke that way in Vietnam. My attitude! Ppl speak that way now-the biggest insults are female directed, and females do it-but it’s not ok. I would love to find more sites like yours that actually help our society instead of making excuses. Let me know how I can help. Thank you.

Ron Kirk

Thank you for the ratings info

Molly webb

I’m hoping this site can help me ! I’m 75 and enjoy murder/mysteries . I do hate graphic sex in books though and crude language I love the Elly Griffith/Ruth Galloway books . Would love to find more with similar standards .


Like mystrities, not bloody messes. Love love stories. Adults

Carole Whaley

Don’t like graphic violence.

Harriet Blanton

Am I right to assume that the boxes with the check in the boxes already are the boxes I want, and boxes I take away the checks are the ones I don’t want?

Tony Braxton

How do I obtain your books?

Regards JarvisMcCluskey ([email protected])

Hai Dinh

My name is Hai Dinh. I recently saw my daughter, who is 12, reading Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. I catched some adult content in Chapter 31. I wonder which age range this novel is appropriate for.

Thank you for your advice. Hai Dinh

Janis Byrd

I just found Book Cave Today, and I’m glad I did. I enjoy reading. I think I have found my new book store.

Tracy Petit

I really appreciate the information you are supplying on different rating levels. There is nothing more frustrating than to invest in a book, only to find out it is very different than you thought. I also pass over books I would have enjoyed, but the cover was unappealing. This is great!

Pat Wilson

I’m 75 and I like Thrillers, Mysteries no cozy mysteries for me.

Tommie Morris

I am 84. Read lots of books. Do not like erotica, violence,paranormal… just a good storyline without all the sexual distractions!!!! Have to skip over a lot!!!! Haven’t figured out how to get books here yet…..

Hi Tommie. Just email us at [email protected] . We’ll gladly answer any questions you may have.

Yvonne Butler

Me too I am 75 and read all the time. That may be 4or5 books a day. I have had a hard time getting my books in by genue selection.

Hi Yvonne. I’ve sent you a new password.

Melda Spencer

This is wonderful. I am glad I finally stumbled onto this great site. I am 79 and not computer literate so I am thankful for your work. Thanks for providing it.

Catia Shattuck

You’re welcome! We’re so glad you’re enjoying it.

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Is This Book Age-Appropriate? How to Find Age and Content Information

Anytime my kids come home with a book I’ve never heard of before, I always wonder, is this book age-appropriate? I’m happy that my girls love reading, but I also want to know what’s in the books they devour.

Books don’t come with ratings the way movies do. Publishers don’t list the objectionable content on the back of the book, in the copyright statement, or even on their website. Some books will include an age recommendation on the inside front jacket flap, but that’s rare.

Often, you’ll find the lines between middle grade books (ages 9-12), young adult books (ages 12-18), and adult books become blurry. You might find YA books shelved in the middle grade section of the library or discover that many young adult books are really just adult books in disguise.

Why Does it Need to be Age Appropriate?

A book should appeal to a particular age group. But it also needs to be the right length, have the right vocabulary, and contain the level of content kids are emotionally ready for. If one or more of these factors are wrong, children will put the book down. Presented with that scenario too many times and kids will decide they don’t like reading.

So, how do I find out if a book is age-appropriate for my child? Is my four-year-old ready for Harry Potter ? When should my daughter read Twilight ? And how do I find out what’s in a book that my child was assigned at school?

In this post, I’m going to show you how I find age and content information about my children’s middle grade and young adult books. Once you know what’s in a book, it’s easier to decide if you should download it to your kid’s new tablet or skip it altogether.

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Is This Book Age Appropriate? How to Find Out

Look on amazon.

Amazon is probably the easiest place to find age and content information for children’s and young adult books. Here’s how to do it:

Just from this sales page, I can find out a wealth of information and make a pretty good assessment of the book.

Amazon Reviews

People who have read the book will sometimes leave a review. Some of these reviewers will include content information, but most won’t. You may have to read a few (or several) reviews to get a feel for it.

Goodreads Reviews

Goodreads is THE place for book lovers of all sorts. You can find reviews, groups, lists, and chats dedicated to all things bookish. Spend some time poking around the site and reading reviews from other parents or book lovers to find out if a book is age-appropriate.

Publisher’s Websites

Publisher’s websites can be hit or miss with this information, but the big publishers usually categorize their books into age groups. For example, on the Random House Children’s Books website, you can select which age group you’re interested in and it will show you books they think are age-appropriate for that group.

Common Sense Media

This is a website dedicated to reviewing and rating books and movies. If they’ve reviewed the book you’re researching, they will give you a recommended age, a star rating, and list everything parents need to know about the book. For a good example, check out their review of The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA .

This Website

I list content information for the books I read on this site. If you use the “Books by Age” tab in the top navigation bar, you can find books and book lists for all different age groups. You can also search for a specific book or topic by using the search box in the sidebar.

Books I’ve read will have a “Content advisory” listed in the description or review. This is great if you don’t have a specific book in mind and want to find some new and interesting books for your child (or yourself).

Epic doesn’t list content information, but they do filter all their books by your child’s age and reading interests. You put in your child’s age and specify which genres they like to read. Then, when your child logs into Epic, it will only show them books that fit the parameters you’ve set. Their books are all for kids ages 12 and under. If you have a teen, you’ll need to use one of the other methods mentioned above.

Read the Book

If the other methods I mentioned don’t pan out, you’re left with only one option. Read the book yourself and decide if it’s appropriate for your kid. Since everyone feels different about what is appropriate, this is the best way to determine if a book is right for your kid.

Now you know all my tips and tricks for finding out what is in a book before you buy it. The next time you ask yourself, is this book age-appropriate? you’ll know where to go to find out.

Finding age-appropriate books for kids can be challenging (especially for teenagers), but it’s possible. With a little time and determination, you can find everything you need to make an informed decision.

Do you have any hacks I don’t know about? Let me know in the comments!

*This blog participates in affiliate partnerships. If you make a purchase using one of our links, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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24 Comments on Is This Book Age-Appropriate? How to Find Age and Content Information

Awesome post!! I will definitely be passing this on to a few of my mom friends! 🙂 I definitely agree that parents need to be careful! The best way is to flip through and see what is going on for yourself. For example, I just re-read The Stinky Cheese Man… that book is recommended for Age Range: 3 – 7 years. There is NO WAY I would let a kid under 5 or 6 read that one. It’s a bit violent and the last page is terrifying!

Erica | Erica Robyn Reads

It’s so true. Everyone is different and every family has to decide what they feel comfortable with.

I just listened to it… poor stinky cheese man. 😦 I can’t imagine reading this to my kinder niece.

I love Compass book ratings. They break down a book content very thoroughly.

Great suggestion! Thanks for mentioning it!

amazon does not show this information for most any book I can see with kindle. I’m looking’s either not there or it’s been removed….I’m so frustrated as one of my kids likes fantasy books and I have no idea what level the books are….help!

You’re right, most publishers don’t offer this information on the Kindle versions of their books. It’s frustrating! But if you look at the paperback or hardcover editions, you can usually find the information you need. If you’re looking for fantasy, check out these two reading lists: Magical Fantasy Books for 5th Graders (give or take a year or two) Fantastic Fantasy Books for Kids Ages 9-12

It’s funny you say Amazon is mostly good at this when all the bad books I’ve found that claim to be for kids but have things like heads getting removed and fountains of squirting blood (real example “wings of fire” its called) were on amazon with NONE of this disclosed on the page. Only to be found out after buying or scouring the bad reviews.

Hi Tryn, yes, Amazon is an excellent resource for finding age recommendations and categories, but you’re right—unless you read the book yourself or comb through reviews, you won’t find specific information about objectionable content. I always recommend that parents read a book before handing it off to their kids because everyone is comfortable with different things.

Trying to find out if Patch of Trouble, by Elizabeth Craig, would be appropriate for a 13-year old advanced reader.

Trying to find out if Patch of Trouble, by Elizabeth Craig, is appropriate for a 13-year old female – advanced reader.

That’s a cozy mystery written for adults. In my experience, most cozy mysteries are appropriate for teenagers, but you should read some reviews on Goodreads or Amazon to make sure. If nothing else, you can always read the book before handing it off to your teen. Good luck!

Hi! First, this is a great page! I Stumbled upon it while trying to see if the HALO book series (based on the video games) is appropriate for my 10yr old Son. I have been scouring the internet and can’t seem to find appropriate content ratings. HELP!!!

Hi Corey, If you’re talking about the series by Eric Nylund, those books were written for an adult audience. I’ve never read them, but books for grownups are usually too long and too complex for a 10-year-old. If your son likes books based on video games, try Minecraft: The Island or Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior. My kids really enjoyed those.

Bad idea to trust Amazon’s age ratings!

Hi LJ, it’s true, the age ratings that publishers list on Amazon are not always accurate. You can always use one of the other methods I listed to cross check any age ratings you find on Amazon.

I’m trying to find books for a kid whose lexile level and age are widely disparate.

She’s 9, so I don’t want to give her anything wildly scary or mature.

But I also want to find her stuff that will challenge her, and her lexile range is 1300-1450 ish, or about a 10th-12th grade level.

I’ve skimmed through my own bookshelves, and found a few good options, but I’d love to find a tool that quantifies content and age-appropriateness in some way, the way lexile does for difficulty.

I just wanted to know if the books of the series ‘A Miranda Rights Mystery’ is age appropriate for ages 14+

It looks like those books were written for adult readers, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify them for teenagers. Read a few reviews on Goodreads or Amazon to see what other people are saying. That can usually give you a good idea of what to expect.

Hi do you happen to know if the thieves of Ostia suitable for a 7 years old? It’s by Caroline Lawrence My girl took it in school and I feel bad that she’s reading it

Hi Nnelk, it looks like the publisher recommends it for ages 10 and up. The most important thing to decide is if your daughter can understand what’s happening in the story, and if you’re comfortable with the content. If you haven’t read the book yet, I’d suggest you start with that. Maybe read it out loud to your daughter. That will help with comprehension, and if you decide it’s too much for your child, you can always set it aside.

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Perspectives on Reading

How #BookTok made an obscure 90-year-old literary puzzle a bestseller

Point of View: Author Susan Orlean

National book ratings for parents?

are books rated like movies

By Maria Kennefick, Library Media Assistant   |  November 2018

Should books be rated the same way we rate movies and television? We’ve all heard comments such as this:

“The ‘Smut Patrol’ doesn’t want you to read the novel The Kite Runner because it includes sexual violence, and others believe it promotes Islam and terrorism. I don’t see how it can promote both of those at the same time, but what do I know?” – Public school library media assistant

Parents are constantly challenging books and demanding they be banned in K-12 schools nationwide. These parents are worried about the contents’ influence on their children and are attempting to protect them. Other parents believe that each family has the right to decline the use of a specific title assigned to their child for homework. There’s a slippery slope between parents wishing to restrict access to books for their child and censorship of books accessible to the student body at large.

Common complaints for book themes are vast; profanity, suicide, sexuality, nudity, violence, racism, witchcraft, undermining religious beliefs, euthanasia, drugs and death are just the tip of the iceberg.

How do parents and educators decide what books are appropriate for K-12 students? Schools today have a wider variety of books to choose from than ever before.

Parents have a hard time keeping up with the subject matter, can’t possibly read each title beforehand and get overwhelmed when looking up the books online.

“My sixth grade child has the reading ability of a 12th grader. She may be able to read a novel being used in 12th grade, but I’d like to be sure the maturity level is appropriate for her age.” – Public school parent

There are three tools often used for choosing books for young readers: Lexile measure, star rating and ATOS levels. But do these tools address the content or child development?

The Lexile measure is only an indicator of student literacy and is not a reference assessing content. Many teachers use the Lexile measure to help decide which titles are best for their students. Generally, this “student reading ability” is measured in ranges from 0L-2000L:

are books rated like movies

For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is measured 880L and considered to be at the ability of grades 5-6. What if the child’s only in third grade, but can read at grade six? This tool isn’t designed to answer this question.

The star-rating system is used by Amazon and based on popularity. rates juvenile and young adult books with 1-5 stars. Typically, one star is a poor rating and five stars is a superior rating. Amazon, and most others using the star-rating system, allows any and all users to rate books.

For example, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is rated almost five stars (as of Nov. 6, 2018). Parents may find popularity an inappropriate way to decide whether their child should read a five-star book, especially when this title’s appeared on many banned book lists.

are books rated like movies

ATOS levels are similar to Lexile measures and rate books based on reading ability.

The ATOS level specifies the difficulty of text using a range of 0.1-12.0. For example, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a 5.3 and prime for fifth grade readers.

These tools don’t address parental concerns about themes. A maturity or content-specific rating system hasn’t been developed on a national level and is needed to guide parents – and may be able to prevent censorship.

Common Sense Media does have content ratings for books. This nonprofit organization provides education to families to promote safe technology and media for children.

There are eight categories used on the Common Sense Media website for book reviews, with each category rated on a scale of 0-5 (three being a fair amount of content and five meaning a large amount of content):

For example, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is recommended with a checkmark of approval for ages 16 and older. This novel isn’t developmentally appropriate for readers younger than 16, according to Common Sense Media’s ratings.

The Kite Runner is given a five for violence, educational material and language, a two for consumerism and a one for language. This title’s also rated five stars for overall quality and learning potential.

Wouldn’t it be easier for parents if ratings were simplified and found in one place?

are books rated like movies

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A nationwide book rating system could be created that emulates the film or television rating systems. These two rating systems have trained us for decades to recognize whether there is profanity, nudity, sex or violence.

The Motion Picture Association of America film rating system :

We could even get as specific as the television content rating system :

are books rated like movies

If we had a national book ratings system in place, teachers could then design their curriculum and include this information for parents to reference. This would be less time consuming for parents.

“As a mother I could say, ‘You can’t watch that R movie, but you can watch any PG movie.'” – Private school parent

But not everyone agrees.

“Any rating system is highly subjective, even arbitrary. We live in such a multicultural society, I am not sure there is a way to standardize it. It is an issue I run into frequently here, with sixth graders wanting to read the books their high school friends recommend. I prefer not to do any formal rating system. I want the students who are looking for it to be able to find it, and I want the students who wish to avoid it to be able to do so with ease. The very best way for a parent to monitor a kid’s reading material is to simply read it themselves.” – Library media assistant at a 6-12 public school

Is a national book rating system a good idea? Tell us why or why not in the comments section.

are books rated like movies

7 thoughts on “ National book ratings for parents? ”

I like the information on common Sense Media, it has greatly helped me to choose books for my 6th grader son. For me anything sexual is out of bounds.

I agree with Larena, in that the Movie rating system is simple and concise. And, as they also do with TV shows, have the letters similar to the South African rating system available: D (Drugs), L (Language), P (Prejudice), S (Sexual Situations), V (Violence). Just as Nutrition Information is required on food packaging and available from the USDA, retailers should be able to obtain this information easily, such as using the ISBN number to get information from the Library of Congress,

As far as the Word Police, parents and guardians should be taking an active role in what is available to their children. With regards to adults, we can be forewarned before purchase or rental.

Rating books like movies is an interesting thought and I hope there will be more discussion on it. Since the general public is already accustomed to understanding that rating system. ANYthing would be better than to allow a few to make a decision for the masses to burn books! Thank you for an enlightening article, Ms Kennefick.

Of the examples listed in the article, I would prefer the television content ratings system style, but adapted to literature. I like to see the different aspects broken out so that parents and students can determine which type of content they may find objectionable or educational. I would include trigger warnings in these ratings as well. I think it is important to include the students in the process of choosing what is and is not appropriate as they often know better than their parents what they’ve already been exposed to, especially for high school and middle school aged children. So, if a general ratings system were introduced, I would hope that it would be determined by professional educators, professionals in mental health, sociologists, parents, and perhaps most importantly, by students themselves.

Wish we would have had this rating when my kids were in middle school. Many of the recommended books for our daughter in 7th grade had either violence or detailed sexual scenes.

Ms. Kennefick makes some excellent points. I agree, parents and students would benefit from a national

Very clear and concise piece. Working as a library media assistance at a high school, I too have had to help students and parents with age appropriate content. Would a rating system for literature be a crutch or benefit? Who would then become the word police?

Comments are closed.

Why Books Aren't Rated

Monday, march 30, 2015.

One of the most common complaints I hear as a librarian is "why don't books have a rating system?" While I always manage to nod politely at the patron's distress over sex/swearing/violence (SSV) in books, my inner state is far more agitated. This question tends to irritate my inner adolescent ire—that is, it makes me want to push back in an irrational manner (including eye rolling) because the idea of a book rating system is ridiculous to me. 

People like to draw a connection between movies and books. "If movies can be rated," the argument goes, "then books can be, too." The connection isn't entirely relevant, however. There is a huge difference between reviewing and rating the roughly 500 movies released per year and the 50,000 or so books. Plus, movies make tons of money. Books, not so much. Sure, there are bestsellers, but the film industry ($479.2 billion) generates significantly more revenue than the publishing industry ($29 billion). Who is going to pay for all this book rating?

Then there is the impact between reading something and looking at something. Likely this is an individual response that is influenced by both life experience and brain chemistry, but for me, if I watch a sex scene or something violent in a movie, it stays with me far longer than if I read one in a book. Plus, there's the fact that if you don't like to read sex scenes, there is always skimming, or just flipping the page until you get past the part you don't like. It's much harder to "skim" a movie.

To me, though, the biggest difference between an offending movie and an offending book is the ease with which you can stop interacting with it. If you're at a movie theater and you don't like something, you have to physically leave the building . If you're reading a book and you don't like something, you just have to put the book down.

But books being rated because movies are rated is really not the point. Movies are rated so that parents can know what is appropriate for their families to watch, not to protect adults from adult content. In essence, where a book is shelved and how it is marketed (which is sort of the same thing) is already a rating system of a sort: novels in the adult section were written with an adult audience in mind; novels in the teen section were written for young adults (which is roughly 14-18, but sometimes 12-17). If you are an adult person browsing in the adult section, you are likely to come across many books that contain violence, sexuality, or swearing, because adult lives contain these things.

Of course, there is an enormous debate right now, as YA literature becomes more and more popular, over what makes a book one that is "good" for teenagers to read. This is based on the difference between reading level (word difficulty and word count, sentence structure, writing style) and content (who and what the story is about). You can have entirely filthy or violent novels written at a teenage reading level, but the content might keep them in the adult section. The argument centers on one's interpretation of the word "good," and there are so many levels or meanings of goodness that it is impossible to decide for an entire group. You (the parent) need to be involved in helping your teenager (the individual) with this choice. Do you really want to hand that responsibility over to someone else?

But let's put aside the YA lit discussion (as it could be an entire post itself!) and just focus on adults. (It is always adults who ask me about a book rating system anyway.) What is considered offensive varies widely between readers. The level of SSV one is sensitive to is individual. For me, the line falls between whether the SSV is included just to have some SSV in the story, or because it is inherently necessary to the plot, character development, or major themes. Let's take sex as a starting point. There are bajillions of novels written every year with a plot that is engineered to get the characters in bed so that the author can write the sex scenes. Choose any bodice-ripper novel and that will be your reading experience. There are also plenty of novels that include sex scenes, but with the purpose of exploring how it changes the character—what he or she might learn, how she might change, what was right and what was not. It's not the point of the story. It's just part of the story. (Like, you know: real life. Where people have sex, among doing other things.) The novel Atonement ​ is one I would put in this category. Yes, it's got a fairly explicit sex scene, but it's also got explorations of war, choice, love, creativity, maturing, and regret. The sex scene is just part of it. I read it more than a decade ago and I am still thinking about it (the book, not the sex scene).

I don't read bodice rippers because I think they are emotionally lazy and entirely unrealistic. They are written with the goal of titillation, and that isn't an experience I want from reading. I do read books like Atonement because they are written with the goal of enlightenment or understanding or the sharing of a human experience I couldn't experience otherwise, and that is what I want from reading.

I can hear many of my smart, thoughtful friends objecting and saying "but you can still experience those things in books that don't have SSV." That is true, you can. But (for me), the presence of SSV doesn't negate the wisdom or truth that is also there. It entirely depends upon the author's intent. The key is knowing what level of SSV you are comfortable with—and then putting the book down if it is too much for you.

But that is the wonderful thing about books: there is a book for everyone. There are dozens and dozens of books for everyone. If you like bodice rippers, read them! If you like mystery series with 37 books about a detective, read every single one. If you like books without any SSV, there are dozens to be found. Maybe that is why there are 100 times more new books than movies every year: because reading is a myriad experience involving individual choice.

And that is why I will always be against books being rated.

Reading, even though it's usually done sitting still, is not a passive activity. It's highly active, involving thought and choice. You arrive at your reading delivery system, be it the library or Amazon or a book store, and you have to look. You have to pick up a book and read the summary. You have to look at the cover and think what can I learn about this book from those images? You have to flip through and maybe read a few sentences to get an idea of the writer's voice. Even better, you can arrive there already informed. Read the New York Times Book Review , the "Best Books of the Month" series on Amazon, or a few book blogs. Ask your friends what they read, or your mother or your sister or your neighbor. Or a librarian. Keep a list of books you want to read.

Maybe most importantly: don't be afraid. To try something new. Or to question yourself—why do books with swearing bother you? Or even to challenge yourself: can you read something with an SSV level you might not be comfortable with by looking around that to the story? On the other hand, never be afraid to say this book isn't for me. If you try something with an SSV level that makes you uncomfortable, instead of getting annoyed that a panel of book raters didn't warn you beforehand, just move on. Take the book back to the library. Take it back to the book store where you bought it and see if they'll let you do an exchange. Leave it for a stranger to find in a train station. Then move on to the next one. 

Lazy readers need a rating system. Readers who want only their version of the world confirmed in books need a rating system. Readers who don't want to be actively engaged, just passively, in reading. Fearful readers. I know—that might sound harsh. But it is also true. Wanting someone else to decide what book is right for me is a fear-based decision.

I don't want someone I don't know to tell me what is "good" to read. I don't want to be responsible for telling anyone else what is "good." (Except, of course, my kids.) I do  want to choose, basing my reading choices on the reading experience I enjoy best, not an arbitrary count of F words. I can say what is good only for me, and I am the only one responsible for what I put in my brain. Luckily, my brain also has the ability to choose. To consider and savor, to reject and move on.

We adult readers don't need a rating system because we ourselves are the raters of what we read, and we rate a book by whether or not we keep reading it.

Posted at 12:56 PM in Book Notes , Library | Permalink | Comments (15)

I would like to find some kind of reliable rating system made up entirely of people who love the books I love and loathe the books I loathe....that way I can read fewer loathsome books and more than I'd rate a solid 5 stars! :)

Posted by: Feisty Harriet | Wednesday, April 01, 2015 at 04:42 PM

I came across this post because my of a book my 12 year old daughter received for free from Barnes & Noble through their summer reading program. This book was in the KID"S section and included a homosexual relationship with the description of two boys kissing. I was completely appalled and beyond furious that this book was targeted toward 9-12 year olds. No where in the summary of this book was there any mention of this subject matter. How is this possible???? My daughter took it to school to read during study hall and brought it back home once she read this part of the book. Even my 12 year old knows this subject matter is not appropriate for kids her age!!

My 14 year old daughter picked out a book from the library that was geared toward 12-18 year old girls. Two librarians at the counter said that she would love the book. I asked if it was appropriate for her age and was assured that it was. I later found out that there was a discussion about sex throughout the entire book. How is this appropriate for kids this age? I am learning that I am having to proofread books that are in the kid's section!!

So, I sat down at my computer to find out why there is not a rating system for books. I take issue with some of your reasoning for this. First of all, I am not a "lazy" reader. What I put into my mind is important to me and I try to find out as much about adult books as I can before reading them. What a person reads is just as important as what they see in a movie. I don't have a problem with books being written that don't agree with my "version of my world." However, I would rather have a rating system that helps me spend my time wisely instead of starting a book and deciding half way through it that it is something I need to stop reading. Perhaps it is those who think that spending the time and money to rate books are the ones who are lazy.

You mention the cost of having books rated. If there were a rating system set up, the publishing company would have to follow those guidelines when reading the book. They are reading the books, anyway, right?

My main point is that it is worth the time and money to make sure that kid's books have a rating or a disclaimer in bold print if there are controversial issues such as homosexuality or profanity in them. Our world wonders why there are so many young adults who struggle with their sexual identity. This is one reason.

Posted by: Kay Pavlik | Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 05:23 AM

As an avid reader and writer, I've longed for the day for content ratings or descriptions on books - perhaps done voluntarily by the authors themselves. However, I understand authors and book publishers likely don't want them, as it would possibly discourage even more sales in a struggling industry. Still, I like to be an informed consumer - and vote with my dollars. As it is, I turn to reviews to see what the content might be before I ever purchase a book - unless it's a dollar purchase at a Used Book Store, which doesn't benefit the author. No, I'm not advocating for censorship here. Authors are obviously free to write whatever they want. But I want to be free to decide whether it's something I want to invest my time in. Personally, there's been plenty of books left unfinished because I'm rolling my eyes over the adolescent fascination with pervy sex, overt f-bombs and gratuitous violence. Yeah, yeah, I can see the glossing over of the eyes from the preconceived notion of uptight puritanical prudishness (laugh).

Posted by: John DeWitt | Tuesday, July 03, 2018 at 09:44 AM

Well thought out article, but I have to say I completely disagree with you on the "stickiness" of violence/sex/whatever in movies vs. books. I'm still traumatized by parts of books I read in adolescence (Prince of Tides, anyone?) and wish I could go back and un-read certain books.

I'm not sure if this is because of a vivid imagination, but reading something really transports me into the scene, even more so than watching it. Flipping ahead frustrates me to the point I usually just put the book down and walk away. Who is to know when the next disturbing scene will appear? Especially when kids/animals are involved, I just won't read further.

Posted by: J.P. Choquette | Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 08:08 AM

Should I let my 12 year daughter read the book Cujo by Stephen King. The film is rated 18 and is terrifying. She's not allowed to watch the film, should she read the book? Is the book appropriate?

Posted by: Lionel Slade | Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Lionel, the ending is strong, and like other Steven King books there is adult language. Some 12 year olds would be ok, others not so much.

Posted by: Peach | Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 09:50 AM

There are many parents who are raising their children to to have a clear conscience by avoid filling their minds with media (movies or books) that contain obsenities, sexual scenes, violence, etc. As a substitute teacher, I've seen required reading at the middle and high school levels that are filled with these kinds of dark themes and word images. What you put into your mind effect who you are, your core value system. Parents should have a right to know what they sons and daughters are being exposed to so they can take appropriate steps to request alternative reading options. If a family has established fundamental values in their home, they should ask themselves "would I allow this person (author) to come into my home and talk like this to my son or daughter?"

Posted by: Susan Williams | Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 06:02 AM

Not being rated for adult content....that is dumbest shit I ever heard!! What about content you don't want your family to read?

Posted by: Pamela Donze | Monday, November 04, 2019 at 05:54 PM

Posted by: no life | Friday, November 22, 2019 at 03:11 PM

Oh my, I almost posted a whole article in response. Let me say instead, that I completely agree that the cost of such a ratings system is a completely legitimate reason for one not to exist. At least not in the same form as for film. It is so difficult for me to be concise on this because there is so much to say that I feel you really did not consider. But, let's just say that I do research as thoroughly as I can almost every book I purchase. (No easily accessible library for me.) Yet, just recently I found myself with a book that I had to stop reading within the first chapter! (The reasons take more explanation than I will go into here.) For a woman who often ends up just re-reading the books I already own, because of a limited budget, that is an incredibly frustrating experience. I finally get a new book and it's essentially garbage. It's actually a little bit heart-breaking because I was so looking forward to it and will not be able to get another book for quite some time. But this frustration had me googling potential solutions and your article is the second interesting response I clicked on. For anybody reading the comments who may be interested, google Book Cave. It has many rated books. It's not perfect, but it may be the best thing out there and a real aid to those of us who are a bit more particular.

Posted by: Diane | Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 12:20 AM

Books can be as dangerous to faith and morals if not more so. Revolutions and wars happen over ideas. A rating system isn't needed so much as banned lists of books. It's a recent (protestant & enlightenment) idea that everyone should have access to everything. Secular culture also doesn't care what children see. Children can easily have their moral formation harmed by reading about sex, seeing bad language, and reading confusing philosophical ideas. Adults without proper education can be thrown off by bad arguments and ideas. Trusted authorities should put together lists of some of the most popular bad books, but not everything could be covered. Ratings could surely be given for award winners, best sellers, and the most well-known authors.

Posted by: James | Friday, July 10, 2020 at 11:10 AM

I absolutely disagree with James that secular culture doesn't care what children see. Morals don't come from religious readings, they come from a learned understanding and empathy of other people and how they feel. You understand what hurts you, so you don't want to inflict that pain on others. This can be learned through stories or any other number of venues, ideally parents teaching it directly to their kids. I try to be clear when I write a novel as to its target audience and I also try to approach sex scenes I write with clear consent and concern for birth control and safety, so if someone younger gets a hold of it, they should still leave with some idea of what correct behavior is. I believe in reviewing and checking reviews on content before I let my children read it, but I'm also available for them to ask anything they have questions about if they do get their hands on something inappropriate.

Posted by: Foxx Ballard | Saturday, September 05, 2020 at 08:21 AM

I would love some kind of rating on books. I often listen to audio books and unfortunately I end up returning more than half of those I borrow because of their content. At least I don’t have to pay for them!

Posted by: Danielle Conway | Friday, October 23, 2020 at 02:24 PM

I was researching to see if there was a website that rated books and came across your article. I must say I believe that you are flawed in your thinking that lazy readers want a rating system. My time is of value to me and I do not want to spend it reading a book that I have to put down due to its content! I can go to Walmart if I want to surround myself with language, and I have a husband for sexual activity I might be in need of! As an adult I should be able to choose what content I am exposed to. There are also books being labeled as young adults books which could be considered soft porn!! As a parent of a teen I should be able to know what content my child is being exposed to also! I’m not saying books need to be censored but they should be rated appropriately!

Posted by: Ella | Tuesday, August 03, 2021 at 09:36 AM

Adults dont always want adult content. And for those with high sensitivity and vivid imaginations, SSV stays in the mind for years just as if it were seen in a movie. When I was a teen I was required to watch Schindler's list in school. That movie is rated R. There was no parent permission form. I got up and walked out after a very violent scene. i wish there had been someone to advocate for me. I dont think books should be any different in a rating system than any other media out there. Follow the money. That is where the laziness lies.

Posted by: Sarah | Monday, May 16, 2022 at 01:34 AM

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Why Don’t Books Have Ratings Like Movies?

When deciding whether or not to let your child watch a movie, it’s easy to look online or call the theater to get the MPA rating and know whether it’s appropriate. Even TV shows and video games come with attached ratings to let parents know what’s acceptable. However, books don’t have anything like that. 

Books don’t have ratings like movies for several reasons. For one thing, the first amendment protects the freedom to publish, and adding age ratings to books is a slippery slope to censorship. Additionally, there are too many books to make rating them cost-effective.

This article will further explain why books don’t have age ratings and whether or not they should have them. Keep reading to learn more. 

The Potential for Censorship

Perhaps the primary reason books don’t have an equivalent to an MPA rating is the potential for censorship. 

Unlike movies and games, books and other printed media are protected under the first amendment , which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The essential bit is that part about the “freedom of speech, or of the press.” For good or for ill, people can say whatever they want in a book. As long as they aren’t committing libel or other illegal acts, they can also say whatever they like in magazines or newspapers. 

By adding age ratings to books, we’re saying they are unfit for certain people – namely, people under a certain age. That infringes on the writer’s first amendment rights and is a risky decision.

Books Are Easy to Stop

Another reason books don’t have ratings is that they’re incredibly easy to stop reading. Indeed, you could argue that turning off a movie is just as simple as closing a book. However, movies are a visual medium. When you see the objectionable material, it’s almost too late to turn them off. 

With books, you aren’t seeing anything at all. Instead, you’re reading about scenarios that usually require a build-up of some kind. You can tell when reading if there’s about to be something bloody, gory, violent, sexual, etc. You can close the book and even throw it away before you ever get to the objectionable part. 

Additionally, closing a book is much easier than walking out of a packed movie theater where you might disturb others. Someone may be too embarrassed to do that. However, no one knows if you stop reading your book.

Age Ratings for Books Aren’t Cost-Effective

One of the biggest arguments publishers and authors have against ratings is that adding them to books would be expensive. Approximately 500,000 to a million books are published in the United States annually, not including self-published books , which raises the number to as high as 5 million . 

Setting up a rating system for books would be a multi-step process. You’d need systems in place for all of the following steps:

And those are just the fundamental categories. The whole system would cost millions , if not billions , of dollars. Furthermore, the writers and publishers wouldn’t see a monetary return on the investment. It would likely increase the cost of books for consumers, as well. 

Adding Ratings to Books Would Require Rearranging the Entire System

In addition to not being cost-effective for publishers and writers, it would also cause issues for bookstores, libraries, and other retailers and places where people go to find books. Sellers and library staff would have to implement new training and policies to learn to deal with the rating system. 

It would limit who could check out or purchase certain books and change how they were marketed, displayed, etc. This particular point is also cyclical because once the library stops checking out certain books to people, the first amendment comes back into play. 

There Are Alternate Means for Checking Books’ Appropriateness

As you can see, it would be a massive, expensive hassle to implement a rating system for books now, especially since everyone would be starting entirely from scratch. 

Furthermore, it would be a massive, expensive hassle for something that isn’t needed. There are already plenty of ways to check whether or not a book is appropriate for specific age groups. The easiest way is to read the book yourself. Barring that, though, you simply need to ask. 

Bibliophiles, booksellers, and librarians are usually pretty knowledgeable about books. They’re also great at research, so they can easily find out what they don’t know. You can ask them, “Hey, would Lord of the Rings be okay for my 12-year-old son ?” They’ll tell you the truth. They’ll let you know about the book’s plot and characters and its difficulty level. 

Reading customer reviews is another excellent way to see whether or not a book is okay for your kids. And there are several websites, such as Common Sense Media , dedicated to giving parents accurate information about what is and isn’t okay for their children.

Why invest millions or billions of dollars into creating a rating system for books when there are already so many simple ways to rate them?

It Could Backfire

Finally, adding age ratings to books could backfire, especially if the age ratings are just suggestions and can’t be enforced. After all, having an ‘M’ for ‘mature’ stamped on a book’s cover makes it very easy for kids to find books their parents might not want them to read. 

That’s not to say they won’t find the racy stuff anyway. However, there’s no reason to make it easier for them.

So, Should Books Have Age Ratings?

Some people may disagree with me on this point, but no, I don’t think so. 

Books shouldn’t have age ratings because they don’t need them. There are plenty of other ways to assess whether or not a book is appropriate, and implementing a new age rating system would be a colossal undertaking of both time and money.

Leaving it up to the parents has worked for hundreds of years, and there’s no reason to rock the boat. 

Final Thoughts

Books don’t have ratings like movies for several reasons, but the most obvious is that they don’t need them. Plenty of websites are available to check the appropriateness of books, and adding ratings is a slippery slope toward stepping on people’s first amendment rights. 

John Zander

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A blog for people who love books as much as me, jo talks books: should books have ratings like movies do.

Hi everyone! Today’s topic is kind of related to a discussion post that I did about a week and half ago, about whether parents should censor their children’s reading (though completely unintentionally, since I’ve had this post planned since January and that post was inspired by reading another discussion post on a different blog), as I’m talking about whether books should have age ratings in the same way that movies do. Now obviously, books are marketed towards different ages, you have children’s, middle grade, young adult, new adult (which is usually either in YA or Adult, I’ve never actually seen a New Adult section in a bookstore) and adult. Movies have ratings based on content and some would argue, why shouldn’t books, since some of the content in books (sex, violence, swearing etc) is the same as in movies. However, books and movies are completely different mediums and it’s my personal opinion that a rating system for books would be completely wrong and I’ll explain why in this post.

Books are organised in age categories at bookstores, but this is more for guidance than a direct instruction as to who can read them and I think that’s a good thing, because if strict rating systems were enforced, it would stop readers from exploring books that were seen as too old for them and I don’t think that’s a good thing at all, I think readers should be able to decide for themselves what they feel they are ready to read. Which brings me to one of my other problems about a rating system for books, who would decide what rating the book would get? The author? The publisher? The bookshop? An independent body? Someone would have to have the authority to say this book should be rated that and that book should be rated that and I’m sure there would be many people who would disagree with the rating and books are very subjective, what might be suitable content for a certain age for one person might not be suitable content for a certain age for another person, so there’s a danger of books being censored due to someone’s personal taste and that’s not right (for instance, Harry Potter could be censored for witchcraft content if the person doing the censoring was very religious). There’s a fine line between censorship and guidance and I feel like implementing a rating system for books is straddling the line dangerously close to censorship.

Movies are primarily just for entertainment purposes, that’s not to say they can’t be educational but entertainment is their primary purpose. Books on the other hand are all about ideas and exchanging ideas and educating and I think placing a rating system on them is like saying “your ideas can only be consumed by people of a certain age” and it restricts the transfer of ideas. You cannot shield children from everything and rating books based on certain subjects would be teaching them that these subjects are taboo and that’s wrong. We should be able to talk about everything and books are a great way of teaching kids about topics that might not be discussed much otherwise. It’s not a good idea to hide information from anyone and by rating books, we would essentially be hiding information from people just because they are not above a certain age. Kids are going to need to learn about things like violence, sex, LGBTQA+, race, rape, mental health issues etc at some point, they may as well learn about them through a safe medium like books and if books get kids talking about topics like this then that’s great!

Yes there are a wide range of YA books and some of them may not be entirely appropriate for all YA readers (since 12-18, which is the generally accepted targeted age range of YA though obviously there are readers who are older than that, me included!) but usually books that have mature content have a warning on them that they contain mature content and I reckon that’s enough, you don’t need to put in age restrictions. Different people have different tolerances to violence, sex etc, for instance, I read a lot of books with violence in and I actually enjoy it because the violence usually comes in the form of fight scenes and I love those, but personally, I don’t really like graphic sex scenes because it makes me feel awkward and so I think it’s up to the reader to decide what they feel comfortable with, not some arbitrary panel of people. Plus, telling any kid, whether it be child, tween or teen what they can’t read is a surefire way to ensure that they read it, because someone telling you that you can’t do something, makes you all the more determined to do it. Rating books might also lead to more books being banned in school libraries and then them not being available for kids to read and in my experience, the books that are banned are exactly the books that are important for kids to read (think books like To Kill A Mockingbird or Perks of Being A Wallflower, both of which have been banned in American school libraries) as they usually talk about important issues and are only banned because people find these issues uncomfortable, and just because you find something uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be talked about.

And where would you draw the line? What age do you decide is appropriate for kissing scenes for instant? What age is appropriate for violence? What age is appropriate for sex? What age is appropriate for kids getting drunk? Do you rate a book that has one sex scene the same as a book that has multiple sex scenes? Should there be a different rating for books with different kinds of sex (oral, anal)? What age is appropriate for swearing? What if books have multiple incidents of all of these things? What age is appropriate to read about drug use? You can see where I’m going here, there is never going to be one blanket age at which everyone can agree it’s appropriate to read about all of these things and you can never guarantee each and every person who reads a book’s sensitivity to each and every potentially problematic thing. So is it not better to leave it up to the reader to decide? After all we know ourselves and what we feel ready to read better than some arbitrary ratings body will. By all means, warn people about sensitive topics but don’t place some arbitrary rating saying only kids of a certain age can read such and such a book. That’s taking away people’s choices. What if a rating turned young readers off from a book that might have been a good read that they would have enjoyed? People could take rating systems for books too far and prevent people from reading anything that you don’t agree with. There’s nothing to stop parents from preventing their kids reading something they disagree with, but introducing a ratings system for books would mean giving a group of people the chance to prevent other people’s children from reading books that they disagree with, which is fundamentally wrong. There is a fundamental difference between movies and books, movies are visual, books are linguistic, a book will only go as far as the reader’s imagination whereas a movie will go beyond that, something considered inappropriate for young readers in a book will probably go right over their heads, whereas in a movie, the visual is right there in front of them.

Movies usually have to edit their content down in order to make them profitable, as R-rated movies tend to be less profitable than younger rated movies (you only have to look at the highest grossing movies of all time to see that this is true) and if a similar sort of rating system was implemented in books, the same thing would probably happen, they would have to be edited down in order to score a lower rating to make them profitable, and this might mean that more sensitive topics, which are important for kids/tweens/teens to learn about, might be edited out and so you’d be taking away a valuable learning experience from them. You could also have book stores refusing to sell books of a certain maturity level, and so the publishers wouldn’t publish them because they are less profitable. That’s unlikely to happen, but just because it’s unlikely, doesn’t mean it couldn’t.

In movies, one scene can box the entire movie into a higher age category based on a single value and if we imposed the same ratings on books, an entire scene could box a book into an age category and that could mean that any YA book that contains sex or violence or anything like that, even if it’s just one small scene, could mean that it would be rated as an adult book and if the ratings system was as strict as movies and you had to present an ID in order to buy a book (this is an imaginary scenario that would likely never happen, but go with me on this), and anything with sex or violence was rated adult, it would stop teenagers from reading a lot of books that may only have had one small scene featuring something like that, that would otherwise have been really good for them and they might have really enjoyed. Books encompass such a wide range of values and themes, they shouldn’t be boxed in by just one that might be considered inappropriate. Plus there are so many books out there (I mean I know there are lot of movies too, but I think books outnumber them), that even if you found a rating system that worked and wasn’t abused (highly unlikely), it would probably be near impossible to rate every single book published.

Ultimately, this all comes down to the same thing as I said in my post about parents’ censoring their children’s books. Books are subjective, different people have different sensitivities to different things, different people have different maturity levels, different people have different values and kids should be free to learn about difficult topics in a safe environment and not restricted to only being able to read and learn about things that are deemed “appropriate”. Knowledge is for all and I feel like imposing a rating’s system for books could lead down a very slippery slope to censorship. Books are all about imagination and you shouldn’t be able to put an age limit on people’s imagination. Period. There are far too many factors to consider when thinking about a rating system for books and books are very subjective, there would be no way to rate them objectively. I think the system we have at the moment works quite well, books are grouped into advisory age genres, but there is nothing strict in place to stop kids from exploring other age genres if they feel ready to. The system works, why mess with it?

So over to you? Do you think books should be rated like movies? What rating system would you use? Who do you think would be best to decide how books should be rated if we did have an official rating system for books and what values would they be rated on? If you do think books should be rated like movies, why? Let me know in the comments!

I will have another discussion post for you guys next week, talking about the age old question, why is the book always better than the movie? In the meantime though, my next post will probably be my newest Top Ten Tuesday post, so stay tuned for that!

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16 thoughts on “ jo talks books: should books have ratings like movies do ”.

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I’m with you – I don’t believe that books should have age ratings on them. I mean, can you imagine getting IDed for a book? I know you said that it was unlikely to happen but, as someone who still can’t pass for 15 (I turn 19 this week), I’d rather not take any chances. If they put age ratings on books then, sooner or later, you’d have people campaigning to make them enforcable. And, anyway, an age rating system would restrict writers. To stay in the age range they want their book to be in, they might have to sacrifice aspects of their story.

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I really can’t! I totally get that, I’m almost 20 and I constantly get IDed for things, so I would hate it if I had to get IDed to buy a book. You’re right, there probably would be people who would do that. I totally agree, it would restrict writers, and I would hate to see them have to sacrifice aspects of their story in order to fulfill their desired age rating.

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I definitely think that books shouldn’t have ratings. With such rampant censorship of certain themes in books (homosexuality, for instance) ratings would only make this worse. Plus in my experience teenagers and kids are pretty good at self-censorship themselves, and knowing what they’re limits are. Movies (because of the visual content) can often be a lot more confronting, hence the ratings, but I think it’s a good thing that they’ve stayed out of fiction thus far 🙂

I totally agree!

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Jo – I really liked your thoughts on this. I don’t think books need to be censored. But then again I’m not really for censorship on films by authorities. I think it’s fine for parents/guardians to decide for their families if something is appropriate for them to watch because they know the maturity of those around them. I don’t let my nieces watch certain things when they are staying with me because I feel it’s inappropriate (they are all under 5 years old) and sometimes things which I thought were okay I turn off as soon as it gets a bit much for them. Violence upsets them. But the movies I stop them from watching are a lot less graphic than prime-time TV news with is full of pretty graphic violence more and more. Did I think it was probably inappropriate when I saw someone who was probably 12 (she was in a primary school uniform) buying a copy of 50 Shades of Grey? Yes. But to be honest if it is something she wanted to read then she was going to read it. And if not from a store then someplace else. And if she could get past all the boring whingyness of it to the more risque scenes… well she was clearly dedicated. I’m pretty much just happy people are reading – regardless of what it is.

Thanks! Yeah I’m not entirely sure what I think of film censorship either, but that’s another topic for another time I think! I agree, if that girl wanted to read 50 Shades she would have read it either way. Yes same here, any reading is good reading!

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This has come up several times lately. My take is that we don’t necessarily need set ratings but I do like content warnings, which is why I include them in my own reviews.

My Most Recent Discussion: Love It or DNF It: Living with Chronic TBR Overflow Pt 3

Your view is much the same as mine! I don’t want set ratings but I have no issue with content warnings.

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I’m totally with you. It would be so sad if kids ended up with limited access to books because of some relatively arbitrary ratings system. I feel like the vast majority of YA would be deemed inappropriate under such a system. I get that we don’t want to be warping kids minds or whatever, but part of growing up is finding out about the world, and that means both the good parts and the darker ones.

Yes it would be very sad! I think you’re probably right, there would be a lot of YA that would be deemed inappropriate under a ratings system, even when it’s not really. I totally agree with you there, I think kids have to be exposed to stuff that adults may consider inappropriate, otherwise they’ll never learn!

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This is such an interesting discussion! I completely agree with you; books should not be rated like movies. I’m a teenager and I read mostly YA. I learn a lot about the world this way, and I read all different types of genres. If not for books, I may not understand a lot of history, etc. as well as I do, regardless of other content of the book. -Amy

Thanks! Exactly! You don’t want to stop teenagers from reading YA (which is marketed to them) just because of a little content that you deem “inappropriate”!

Haha, of course not!

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No, books should not have content ratings like movies

are books rated like movies

The exact same arguments against book ratings could be used against movie ratings and videogames ratings...

The thing is, I agree with no ratings per se. But I also hate having no information about a books content. I really love the ‘parents guide’ on IMDb, users can write about what content a movie has. This would be great for books. People would have to go looking for it if they were curious, there’s no arbitrary 4 f words=R rating, but those who don’t want it aren’t blind sided by a random graphic orgy in a book they’re reading.

And they should be.

What good has the MPA ever done?

The line I could argue is that cosuming the content of a book is a lot more active, as in you gotta keep reading during a stressful scene, while if you are watching someone cut their thumb in a video, even if you do look away, the sound will continue. You can pause it all together, but that is a lot more than just not reading the next sentence.

However, I think I'm still very much in favor of not having ratings for other mediums to.

Books are not multi-sensory experiences packed with potentially triggering stimuli or graphic depictions of violence. They're single-stimulus experiences and the degree to which it can disturb you or trigger a panic attack or PTSD or whatever else is a) dependent on you actively continuing to read and b) extremely limited by your own ability to imagine the scene described.

I'd support a website that has certain content-tags for books so people with known sensitivies can check to make sure there isn't a r-pe scene that would trigger their ptsd. This would be good actually. This would match the needs of a community without unduly biasing the public against them. I would not support a system of ratings that resemble the ones found for movies or videogames. They're a different medium with a different level of consumer risk. They should not be treated the same by default, and a rating system would more likely be used as an excuse to ban books from public libraries in inapropriate ways, than actually inform the public about risk.

If we are going to have ratings then we can't let a shady ass org like the MPAA do it and we need people who actually know what the fuck is and is not appropriate for kids like child psychologists, and you get three ratings: kids, adults, teenagers, and that's it

Not 100%, when you read a book you're constrained by your own imagination to some extent. The writer can write words, but your brain is going to put those words to thoughts and images.

The prisoner was tortured for hours until he broke

Your mind is going to fill in the data there. How he was tortured, what happened, that's all on you. Was it waterboarding? Beatings? Thumbscrews? Was it worse? Was it purely physical, was it psychological? Sleep deprivation? Was it sexual abuse?

Whatever "torture" was, you came up with it.

Versus in a movie or video game where you are given the explicit details to watch. For instance the torture scenes in GoT between Ramsay Bolton and Theon Greyjoy. Or Stuck in the middle with you from Resevoir dogs where even though they cut the camera away you can still hear the muffled screams.

Even if an author is explicit and graphic, the imagery is still only what your brain can conjure up. Actually seeing it, even if just acted, is quite different.

Even something as simple as getting shot. If your frame of reference for getting shot is "call of duty" where the guy drops dead instantly, that's going to be very different from someone who has actually seen someone die from a gunshot. Even if the author says the person is alive, and writing in pain. Your brain is putting reference to that using what it knows, versus this NSFW scene from Resevoir dogs which puts it in your head very explicitly.

This is not an argument in favor of ratings, only that reading something in words, versus actually seeing it, are two very different experiences.

There's been a huge rise in unrated movies over the past ten years due to streaming and no one seems to care. Even local theaters show movies without ratings.

Ratings probably aren't necessary, but content descriptors would still be useful (violence, murder, nudity, self-harm, animal cruelty, etc). this way people have an idea of what they're in store for.

Exactly, movie shouldn't have them either

Exactly, I'm against those things having ratings too.

They are arbitrary, inconsistent and generally not helpful in the least.

I use websites like kids in mind to see if something is suitable for my children.

Ratings are shit. I view the content against what they can understand.

The kicker is that ratings for movies and video games also suck and don’t do justice to whatever content they’re rating

Well I don’t want those either

27 more replies

They could put an extra page in the back of books with content warnings. People who care could look at it. People who don't could ignore it.

This is the best solution, that way it doesn’t spoil the book’s contents for people who do not care for the rating. I would actually appreciate the rating mainly for younger children/teens since I had a fairly bad experience with the book Room when I was a kid. I was an avid reader and stumbled upon the book at Costco and it had a very eye-catching cover with crayon scribbled letters of “Room” and I thought it was a young adult book at the time, it didn’t even have information on the back except raving reviews. Little did I know it talked about sexual assault, torture, kidnapping, and explicit depictions of such things and I was traumatized being exposed to that when I was too young and not expecting it.

Yeah i don't really think age ratings are the exact same thing since movie ratings rarely are useful as content warnings anyway and me wanting to avoid EDs for example has nothing to do with my age, but I do wish more books had a page like this. Googling doesn't even work in all cases, especially for new or lesser known books.

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  2. No, Books Should Not Have Content Ratings Like Movies

    Since books are longer and more involved than movies, they're trickier to pin down with exact content ratings. Including age ranges can sort of

  3. How our Book Content Rating System Works

    MBR ratings are a lot like movie ratings, and they're divided into six groups: All Ages, Mild, Mild+, Moderate, Moderate+, Adult, and Adult+.

  4. Why don't books have a content rating system like motion pictures?

    More or less, they kind of do! But it's moderated in a different way than movies. So when you go to a movie theater, you see the list of all the movies and

  5. Is This Book Age-Appropriate? How to Find Age and Content

    Books don't come with ratings the way movies do. Publishers don't list the objectionable content on the back of the book, in the copyright statement, or even on

  6. National book ratings for parents?

    The star-rating system is used by Amazon and based on popularity. rates juvenile and young adult books with 1-5 stars. Typically, one

  7. Why Books Aren't Rated

    But books being rated because movies are rated is really not the point. Movies are rated so that parents can know what is appropriate for their

  8. Why Don't Books Have Ratings Like Movies?

    Books don't have ratings like movies for several reasons. For one thing, the first amendment protects the freedom to publish, and adding age ratings to books is

  9. Jo Talks Books: Should Books Have Ratings Like Movies Do?

    Movies have ratings based on content and some would argue, why shouldn't books, since some of the content in books (sex, violence, swearing etc)

  10. No, books should not have content ratings like movies

    Books are limited ONLY by a readers imagination and are almost always experienced alone. A movie is the same every time you see it, is limited