Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is “Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?”
I think yes, for several reason. First, books don’t really have a target age. Publishers, stores, and libraries categorize books based on what they think the audience is, but that doesn’t mean those categories define who is allowed or not allowed to read them. They’re grouped together as a guess as to who would enjoy them the most. Children tend to enjoy books about children and animals. Teens like books about teens. Adults often like to read about the lives of other adults. But that doesn’t mean the books are solely for them. I doubt most authors are crying over the fact that there’s a huge population of adults who love, buy, and read children’s books. It means those authors did their job. I can’t think of anyone who wants their book to only be appreciated by a narrow audience. They want their stories to be read by as wide a population as possible.
It goes both ways, of course. Should children be reading adult books? And, yeah, if they’re ready. There are some books that kids aren’t ready to be reading, but they aren’t going to gravitate those. They’ll read books they can understand and feel comfortable with. For example, many years ago, a fifth grade student went to her teacher upset because the book she was reading mentioned condoms and safer sex between adults (the mother of the main character) . She didn’t want to read it anymore. She clearly wasn’t ready to read that book, and that’s fine. I, on the other hand, sought out romance and even sexually explicit books when I was a preteen. I got an elicit thrill, and I got to read about safe, consensual relationships between adults. On the other hand, I’ve never been old enough to read the book A Child Called It, and I never will be. But it’s hugely popular with fifth and sixth graders to this day. Different strokes.
Books shouldn’t be kept in cages. Stories are universal, no matter what the publisher stamps as the age category. Not allowing people to read the books that they want is banning books, and that’s not okay by any stretch of the imagination.
Two quotes to sum up my thoughts:
“Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about.” Hopkins, 1776 (Replace “talked about” with “read about” and that’s where I stand)
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” C.S. Lewis