Warning labels (or why I stopped using them on here)

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So, here’s the thing about warning labels:  I never pay attention to them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s music, movies, books, or the label on the hair dyer that tells me not to take it into a bath tub full of water (though I’ve never done that last one).  If I like something, I’m going to use it how I want to use it and when I want to use it.  I, contrary to popular opinion, have some ability to use common sense.

That said, it was suggested to me that I put a warning label about the fact that a lot of books I read have adult subject matter because I also have done some young adult and middle grade on this site.  People felt that it was easier to distinguish them with the warning label.  Well, folks, I gave that the good old college try.  I went back and labelled things.  I’ve been putting labels on things for a while now and it still irks me.  I ALWAYS have to go back and fix the review after I write it.  I don’t ever think to put that label on first thing.  It’s always after draft two or three, when I actually publish it to the web, when I look at it in it’s entirety and go, “Ahhhh!   I forgot the bloody adult content thing again!”  So, as this is my blog, I am saying buh-bye to a practice that drives me up the wall every time I do a review.

Do I see your point?  Do I feel that it is valid?  Sure!  If you want to run a blog and do it that way, feel free.  Go right ahead.  But here’s the thing about me, if you don’t know me irl: I HATE boxes and HATE labels.  Anyone who tries to put me in a box or label me finds that it turns into a major headache sooner rather than later.  I am, if nothing else, someone who doesn’t quite fit conventions.  The more you get to know me, the more you find you can’t figure me out.  I have been called, “an puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in Rubix Cube, wrapped in a Scrabble game” and honestly, I think my friend was right when he dubbed me that and my students were right when they agreed.

Warning labels serve to define things.  However, I find that people tend to discount all other possibilities for something once it has been categorized and filed away.  I am an omnivorous reader.  On Sunday morning, I read four children’s books.  On Sunday evening and Monday during the day, I read a adult Urban Fantasy novel.  This afternoon, I picked up a philosophy book.  Tomorrow, I may pick up a book on Japanese patterns for tea sets.  I would be totally fine with that.  I think, however, that it is not my job to tell you what your kid should and should not read and that if you cannot do the research to see if something is appropriate for your household standards, then you’re not doing your job as a parent.  If you’re an adult, use your brain and your eyes.  It’s pretty clear just from the covers which books are adult books and which books are kid books.  I am done being the keeper of labels that make me bang my head against the dash of the clown car that I am driving up the wall.

Rant complete.


  • Katie

    I don't think books really deserve the kind of warning labels that movies, etc. do. I think if a book has themes too mature for a young kid, it's probably beyond the kid's reading level anyway. And if a book does expose a kid to some things he/she didn't know about before, would it kill the parents to talk to them about it?

  • Christiana Krump

    Well, I don't know if I'd say it's beyond a kid's reading level if there are inappropriate topics for the age of the reader. Lord knows I read a lot of things that were \”inappropriate\” as a kid and my mother was horrified by some of it when she found out. Stephen King at 7 and 8 years old (after my babysitter introduced me to Jaws and It) was probably not the best idea, for example. I read a lot of things with sex and violence in them. They weren't beyond my reading level or beyond my comprehension. At a certain point I think my mom probably asked the librarian to not let me check out certain books without checking with her first b/c we ended up with conversations on why I wanted to read certain things. I always won or got pointed to a more age-appropriate (if not reading level appropriate) book on the same topic b/c my mom wasn't into censoring things, but I can understand why some parents worry. And books, btw, have their own ratings. Children's, middle grade, young adult, adult are all ratings based on age appropriateness, just like movies and video games. That's just the world we live in.

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