Whenever I go to the mall I finish my day with a visit to the bookstore in search for new additions to my collection. This is what happened a week ago or so when I was walking through the bookstore aisle and suddenly I listened to two kids talking to each other. One of them seemed to have like 8 years while the other one was maybe 10.
Kid 10: I want to get this book! (He was holding Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins)
Kid 8: Really? All my friends already read it… well they actually said they watched the movie instead of reading it, hahaha!
The comment about kids watching movies instead or reading a book was funny and sad at the same time. Here in Mexico reading is not a habit and even though the government encourages reading among children, the books are really expensive, you can get two or even three books in the States for the same price you get one here.
Ten minutes later, before I left I stop at the entrance near the register to check a couple of books. I was crouched digging through the bookshelves when again a conversation between an adult and a kid caught my attention:
Mom: Well, are you sure you want that one? (She was pointing at Kid 10, who was still holding Catching Fire)
Kid 10: Yes, I’m sure, I’d even like to take the whole box set…
Mom: Hey honey… (she was calling to her husband) come to see this!
Dad: What happened?
Mom: Well the kids want to take this book with them, but I’m telling them that if they really want to read the whole series is better to get it now and we would save like 10 bucks, what do you think?
Dad: Well, if they are reading it… sure I guess.
At this moment I lifted my gaze to see if they were still talking about The Hunger Games box set. I started to think about if such a story was suitable for those kids, considering the graphic violence described at least in the first two books, which I’ve read. I was kinda relieved when I saw the mother asking to an employee about it:
Mom: Excuse me, Would you say this books are good for children?
Employee: Hmmm… The Hunger Games? Sure! They’re easy to read and the language is really simple to understand. Many kids like those books. (He seemed to be super self-confident about his comment)
Mom: Oh, ok. Thanks!
– End of the conversation –
I don’t know about you, but personally I wouldn’t recommend The Hunger Games to a 8 year old or even a 10 year old kid. I’ve read that at this age some kids are able to distinguish between fiction and reality, which may be true. Although considering what just happened with those girls and the slenderman story I’d start to question this. What I’d doubt as a parent or grown up would be my intention to expose little kids to this kind of reading.
So in my opinion it’s not about how easy or fast is to read a book to recommend it to a parent for their kids, but about how much the parents want their children to know about certain topics at their ages. And how much they want this topics to influence the lives of their children. If you’re a parent please read before you let your kids read something you’re not sure about.
What do you think? If you’re a parent do you feel related to this kind of experience? What would you recommend?