“Rated R”: Do Books Need an Age-Rating System?

The Christian Science Monitor reports about ongoing efforts in the United Kingdom to institute an age-rating system for children’s literature, which some condemn as a turn toward increased censorship. Among the most outspoken advocate for a rating system is young adult author G.P. Taylor, creator of the Vampire Labyrinth series, who says that children’s literature has now “gone too far.”

“I think the way forward is a certification system for books, the same way we have in films,” he said. “For children, we’ve got to be really careful. We’ve got to have a guide for parents.”

His comments come on the heels of a recent study by Brigham Young University that found young adult bestsellers have twice the rate of cursing of video games and characters who swear are typically portrayed as wealthier, more attractive, and more popular than their clean-mouthed counterparts.

Scholastic proposed such a system in 2008, to much outrage in the literary community. A petition against such a measure garnered over 800 signatures from notable authors like J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman. It seems unlikely that this will ever come into effect in the United States.


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