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Age banding — helpful info or bad idea?

An article in The Guardian describes a new movement in British publishing of children's and YA books: age banding, The concept, which calls for publisher to mark books as being "appropriate for ages xx-yy," is fiercely opposed by many authors, including J.K. Rowling.

It reminds me of what manufacturers do with toys, an instance for which I can see some justification. If you are a proud auntie shopping for a 6th birthday present for little Emma, you probably have no clue how difficult a game or toy is. Besides, they usually simply list a minimum age and say "and up."

But with a book, it seems to me that kids' reading levels and comprehension levels are so widely divergent, even for a specific age, that this kind of banding is bound to be inaccurate. The proud auntie would be better off asking which authors or genres the child likes—or even simply buying her own childhood favorites—rather than blindly searching for titles based on the child's age.


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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jl_johnson
Jul. 7th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
I can understand why they would want to do this, perhaps they think certain materials are not suitable for certain age groups, but isn't that the parents responsibility to monitor what their child reads? It's not up to the establishment to say what a child can read or not read. They can make suggestions as to whether or not it's appropriate for a certain age group, but in the end, it's up to the parents.
karen_w_newton
Jul. 7th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
I think what irks me most is the upper age limit. It's like saying "no on beyond x age would be interested in this story." So, so wrong!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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