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Another petition, again about a matter close to my heart: books!

[quoted directly from [livejournal.com profile] loriel_eris]

The gist of the matter is that from the autumn some publishers are going to put age banding on children's books. ie 5+, 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+/teen. Why? So that people can buy age appropriate books for kids. Huh. That's what I thought front cover, text size, book description and where the bookseller had placed it on the shelves was for...

[end quote]

[Links from [livejournal.com profile] loriel_eris]

A Telegraph article

An article in The Guardian

[This is all me now!]

Frankly, I think this is ridiculous, and pointless. Considering the fact that I read books way above my age when I was younger, I'm totally against it, mainly for the reason that it would put off parents letting their children read what they wanted. You know, 'you're only 10, you can't read a book that's labelled 12+' or whatever! It seems to have completely forgotten the point that children read at different levels - as I said, I read a lot of books way above my reading age when I was younger (mainly because there was nothing else to do!) but my parents never censored what I read. In fact, they actively encouraged it! Personally, I feel that children can only benefit from a wide range of reading. I highly doubt that young children (and let's face it, once kids reach about the age of 13, parents aren't going to be able to prevent them reading what they want!) will actively seek out books that are potentially 'harmful' to them. (I'm thinking of descriptive crime novels and books with a lot of sex - although I'd read a Mills & Boon when I was about ten (in fact, it was one of my favourite books at the time!).) There are a lot of entertaining reads that might be considered 'too old' for an eleven year old, but each child is different!

I can appreciate the reason for banding of films - although that only works in the cinemas. In films, nothing is left up to the imagination. Everything is right in front of you, in blazing technicolour (most of the time. I realise that sometimes you have to infer, in which case younger children probably wouldn't get the references and it will all be fine.). Violence, blood flying every where, sex. Books can leave that up to the imagination. And reading about blood flying is not the same as seeing it! In books, children can read things quite happily and not necessarily realise what they mean. They might take a completely different meaning from the one that was meant (in the right way). I'm afraid I'm not explaining myself particularly well - if it doesn't make sense, then comment, and I'll try and do better!

From my experience, a lot of parents don't pay any attention to the age banding of films when it comes to buying/renting films. Instead, they make an informed decision regarding their child and what they know the film to contain (unless they don't care at all, in which case the point is moot). Why can't they do that with books, as I'm sure they've been doing all these years? What has prompted this? I've never heard of stories of children being scarred for life from having read a book that was 'too old' for them. Frankly, I find the whole thing offensive.

I mean, surely the fact that in bookstores (and online, so the getting rid of bookstores idea doesn't really hold true) there are children's sections, 12+ sections, teen sections (which hold some great books!), infants sections etc is enough guidance, for goodness' sake! What's next, having to show your ID to buy a book?!

It seems pretty pointless to me, and I think that perhaps the people who have come up with this idea have had a crisis of imagination and are clutching at straws to keep their jobs!

I have been reading from as soon as I was able, and devoured everything that I could. My parents never restricted my reading, and as such I believe that I benefited with a great love of all books. Age banding is pointless, as far as I can see, and can only be damaging to the youngsters of today. We are already having a hard time encouraging children to read, and adding the stigma of reading books with age banding on them (also, think of the potential bullying possibilities), I think it would only make things more difficult. Surely, the sectioning of books into different sections in bookstores is enough guidance for parents?! Is this age banding insulting the intelligence of parents?

- what I wrote in my email


Anyway, here is the petition website. Please send them an email of support if you agree.
No To Age Banding
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March 2011

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