I won’t let you read that

Recently someone in my moms’ group asked about The Chronicles of Narnia, and a woman responded that they might not be okay for young school-aged children (about 6-9 yr olds) due to everyone dying at the end of The Last Battle.  To which someone responded she always reads everything before she lets her kids read it, just in case.

Which got me thinking, just in case what??

Sure, I can see not letting a third-grader read Jean Auel’s Children of the Earth series (although the only reason I read those is because my friend’s dad gave her the first onein about 7th grade and she passed it on to me – talk about awkward).  Or maybe VC Andrew’s Incestuous Flowers books (which I read in fourth grade).  Maybe keep them away from Christopher Pike (which my Catholic junior high stocked in the school library).

But death happens.  Sex happens (one of my students, fifteen years old, told me last week that she’s pregnant, and her classmates have unfortunately told me all about their friends’ STDs). Violence happens.  Should we shield our kids from it in stories because we can’t always protect them out in the real world?

Growing up I lived near a small library.  I read everything in the YA section and moved onto adult stuff in middle school.  Stephen King.  Schindler’s List.  Books with sex and violence and all kinds of adult themes.

No one ever told me not to read any of it.  No one, as far as I know, was even paying attention to what I read.  And had they told me to stop, I wouldn’t have listened anyways.

With my own kid, I have no intention of restricting what he reads.  Violent movies, sure.  At five there are still some episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine that he thinks are too scary, and he knows it, so that so far he’s completely okay with me telling him he can’t watch a movie.  I plan to read what he’s reading so I can discuss it with him if he wants, but that’s it.  No telling him he flat-out can’t read something.

If you have kids, do you limit what they can read?  Do you read what they’re reading before they get to it to make sure it’s okay?  And if you do, how long do you plan to do this?


  1. I understand where you are coming from. When I was a kid I was allowed to read everything but my mom’s romance novels (until I reached puberty). Even now my mom reads the books after I do that way she can have something to talk to me about if I have any questions. And I plan to do the same with my kids. Now-a-days, most parents try to keep their kids incredibly sheltered in terms of what they are exposed to in books, yet they are exposed to the same things in movies, tv, and video games.

    Great post! 🙂

  2. There were certain books I wouldn’t allow my son to read until he was a teenager. Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, for example. He started reading Harry Potter in 1st grade. A little above his grade level but he enjoyed the books and I really think it made his vocabulary better.

    The violence always depended on how graphic it was and the sex… oh boy. I held that off for as long as I could. Besides, sitting beside mom in a movie theatre while thecharacter similate sex isn’t a teenage boy’s best scenario.


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