OK, so maybe books should have ratings, too

 Commentary by Rachel Anne Spencer
Times-News correspondent

“Oh, you can’t see that; it’s rated R.”

 ”What’s the rating on that game?”

 ”That CD is the explicit version; let’s find the clean one.” 

Many of us have heard these phrases from responsible parents. I’ve got to say, I couldn’t agree more. 

The rating and content warnings available for movies, television, games and music are helpful for consumers.

But where are the content warnings for readers?

As an avid reader, I hate getting involved in a book and have to put it down because I find the content inappropriate. I don’t like a lot of sexual content, but swearing and violence wouldn’t necessarily prompt me to put a book down.

Of course, I recognize not all readers find the same things objectionable. Also, I realize that there’s a fine line between protecting ourselves from obscenities and total censorship.

However, since I use content warning labels when selecting other materials, I would love to have the same information available for my book choices, too.

Until books are rated, my current solution is to take suggestions from friends who can advise me about a book’s content.

In fact, there’s a group on the popular book website goodreads.com (see story elsewhere on this site) called “Good Books for Picky Teenagers!” where teens share their informative insights regarding potentially objectionable materials as well as suggestions for literature that is less explicit.

Unlike movies, CDs and video games, which are labeled with ratings to keep consumers informed, books cannot always be judged by the covers.

While the back of a book may have an excerpt or quotes from good reviews, or a book might come from the children’s, young adult, or adult section of the library, I would like to have a more informative labeling/content warning system in place for literature.

Rachel Anne Spencer is a home-schooled junior and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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