Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reader Question: Age Appropriateness and Twilight

How young is too young for readers to try the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer? It seems librarians and booksellers are asking that more often now as more 9 and 10 year olds approach them with the books.

Do booksellers and librarians suggest more "age-appropriate" titles or should they simply be happy there are sales (and lendings) and that kids are reading?

Here's a blog that dealt with the question... But I want your thoughts here, please. At what age should people read Twilight (if it's a book you suggest at all)? New Moon? Breaking Dawn? Why?

Thanks for your input--understanding where booksellers and librarians (and fans) are coming from helps writers consider more completely where we're going with our stories!
*Also, please stop back on Thursday to meet author Eva Gordon--she's our kick-off guest for The Dog Days of Summer BlogTour!


Watery Tart said...

At the risk of alienating myself, I think the question for age appropropriateness of these books doesn't have to do with 'who can't handle it?' so much as 'what do the stories offer?'

The example I will draw from is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--by all accounts a far scarier book than Twilight--I read it to my son when he was six. He self filtered and there is enough there that it was still a great story to him.

I just don't think the Twilight books offer anything to readers who aren't tweens, teens or reminiscent of their OWN time being teens. They are a romance with a little adrenaline, so the age question I would be asking is 'do these books hold anything for a reader this age and of these interests?"

Some 7 or 8 year old girls may be very interested in reading about that. Most 10 years olds are. 13 year olds, universally.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Never worry about alienating yourself over here, Watery Tart (okay, well, maybe a little ;-).

I agree that the inherent value (lessons, questions raised)of the book is far more important than the recommended reading level (as long as the reader doesn't miss too much, get turned off by a book and never give it a second chance when they ARE ready).

The value of the Twilight saga (imho) is partly that it's all quick and easy to read and for girls (and boys) who might have otherwise been reluctant readers, it's easily consumable and will hopefully encourage them to read even more.

And I believe firmly the parents should be responsible for what their children read to an extent--even (dare I suggest it?) reading the same stuff ahead of their kids. It's that old idea of watching tv or movies WITH your children so you can help explain things or ask pertinent questions.

But I feel for the booksellers and librarians who surely realize parents sometimes fall down on the job and don't watch or worry about what their kids consume (and this, like most things, goes waaay beyond the topic of Twilight). I'm glad there are booksellers and librarians who worry enough about kids to ask themselves and others these questions.

And Twilight can certainly help informed parents raise key questions with their kids regarding healthy and unhealthy relationships, depression, sex, abortion and violence (if the parent is actively involved in the kid's life).

So, I guess, if the kid's very young (mentally and emotionally, not just chronologically) they should have guidance (at least).

But that's just my opinion... Thank you so much for coming and sharing yours. I appreciate it! :-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the Twilight books, but I think that parents definitely need to be responsible and know what their children are reading and watching. A rating system or age suggestion can help parents with that, but it really comes down to if they think it's something their child can handle. I mean, I started reading Stephen King at the age of 9 or 10, but my youngest cousins who are near the same age probably wouldn't be able to handle books like that. I think it's very hard for someone unfamiliar with the child to determine whether or not they can handle the material.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Very good point, ssuzuki.

When it comes to strangers (in this case perhaps the booksellers or librarians) trying to decide what's best for our kids, I appreciate the spirit in which they wish to protect our children, but they may not have the necessary info to do it accurately.

Very important to have parents who are truly plugged in to their kids! :-)