Let me be very clear, when we use age as a way to categorize books we are talking exclusively about the audience. THAT IS ALL.
The age of your audiences has nothing to do with censorship or content.
This whole idea has been floating around on Twitter and it’s beyond frustrating. No where are there PG or PG-13 rules for books- NO WHERE. You can swear, you can talk life, death, sex, anything in ANY level. You only change how you say it and it’s not by talking down.
The content plays to the audience, always.
You may never run across the F bomb in a chapter book but you will see other words that function as a swear word instead. Same concept and same point. No literary merit is lost. Other writers cleverly omit the swear word but with context the readers know what was said. All children know the swear words, you just plant it in there minds without writing it.
Don’t agree? Lets do a poll how many books non Adult books have you read lately? It’s all in there. Here are examples of MG/YA books with “Adult” topics straight off of Goodreads.
- The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson- friendship & death
- When We Collided by Emory Lord- love & sex
- Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman- swearing (a lot)
- The Three Musketeers Adapted by Vogel, Dumas -killing & espionage
- Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw- bullies & drugs
- The tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter- rules & choices
Ask any YA/MG author and they will explain how hard it is to give adult content in a way young people will understand. Usually, with fewer word counts to boot! An immense challenge, worth doing because everyone deserves to see the world as it is on there own level.
When your family dog dies. What do you do? You tell your kids he’s gone and burry in him under a tree in the back yard. That’s death and you did it in a way that the kids related to. That is the point of children’s books not to censor them but to bring hard topics into a format that is relatable and graspable where they are. Sure some books don’t do a good job, it happens, bad books are in all levels. The good ones are relatable to their intended audience and that is what authors need to strive for.
Still don’t agree? Put it in the comments and I’ll respond.