Sheesh! What with house hunting and book writing, I seem to have abandoned this completely. I hope to repent a bit over the next little while.

I do have a few things on my brain waiting to be spilled, so here goes.

I clean the library at my kid's school once a week. Well, I mean, I return all the books and put them away. I dust, and I wander through each section making sure that Encyclopedia Brown is not filed next to Brisingr, and that all of the 395's are there. It's an easy way to accrue volunteer hours that I can bring Tyrone with me and not interrupt anything important.

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing my usual dusting and saw Mockingjay on the juvenile shelf. I automatically pulled it off so that I could file it appropriately. Then I looked at the spine of the book. It was filed appropriately. In the juvenile section.

I was frankly appalled. I know my kids and they grab anything from off the shelves. I've wondered about a few books, why they were in the juvenile section. This was beyond anything though.

I put in a call to the librarian, who is currently my daughter's teacher (long and complicated story, that) and asked what was going on.

She told me that her library is categorized according to reading level--as in how tough the books are to read, not necessarily content. Apparently Mockingjay, in her reading system, is actually about a 5th grade book difficulty wise. She then told me that a lot of the huge current bestsellers are that way. Harry Potter is that way. Twilight is that way. There are several others as well. All of these books have some rather adult themes, some more than others, but they are written simply.

She did tell me that she has an alert that no-one but 8th graders can check Mockingjay out, and that if she finds out it's being checked out any younger she'll flip a lid. I happen to know how easy it is to do anything on her checkout system, so it won't surprise me if the system gets abused.

I think that (and encouraged her to) she should re-categorize it into the YA section regardless. I haven't been back into the library since because we had sick hit our house really hard this last couple of weeks.

I know she's in charge and I will abide by her decision. I'm cool with the fact that I made my sentiments known and she is free to do whatever she thinks is best.

For some reason though, the fact that these amazingly popular novels are written on such a basic level is really getting to me--meaning I can't stop thinking about it.

I'm not even sure why.

Is it another matter of "Do I write it because I can?" or is it something to ponder as a person who has ideas down for three books right now that I jump back and forth on? Do I want what I write to be simple and powerful? I may be uncomfortable with such adult concepts being widely available. I really can't quite put my finger on it.

When you read this, what do you think?
7 Responses
  1. Emily Says:

    Alright, I am embarrassed to admit this, but I don't think I know what Mockingjay is?
    But I understand what you are saying about inappropriate things being put at kids level...as well as trying to help my kids pick out age appropriate literature, that is challenging for him to read, but contains appropriate content.

  2. Kimberly Says:

    That's quite fascinating and really gets me thinking too.

    I'm kind of dreading the days when I'll have to closely monitor what my children read. So many conflicting opinions out there!

  3. I think it's a huge mistake to file it according to reading level. It's too bad you don't have a real librarian--someone who got a degree in library sciences.

    Hemingway wrote very simply (as far as word choices go) as well, and I would about die if I saw a fifth grader reading his work.

  4. Kazzy Says:

    Hmmmm, interesting points you make here. Do you think it is intentional or not that these books are written so that younger audiences can access them?

  5. Kazzy Says:

    ps Glad to see you posting!

  6. L.T. Elliot Says:

    I don't think books should be shelved according to reading level. There is a reason things are sorted into age-appropriate areas. While I don't think all authors write with this concept in mind, I do think it's food for thought. In my own writing, it's rarely about the readability so much as it's about conveying the emotion the way I want to. Tough thoughts here. Good thoughts.

    By the way, have I mentioned how good it is just to "see" you here? Because it is. Love you.

  7. As my oldest is approaching her 10th birthday, I am finding myself more and more baffled by the things that others think are appropriate for this age group. Really? I understand our kids are growing up faster, but there is so much out there that is just not appropriate for kids that age, no matter how mature they are. (And I am even finding those within my same faith who are pushing inappropriate things on their children because they find certain things harmless.)