As you know, this blog is rated PG (and so are our books). But if I'm being honest, I'm the true prude of this twosome [Editorial note from Lisa: Shocker!!!].
I think it's because I used to teach 6th grade and I know exactly how young our readers are (Lisa may or may not think high schoolers are the equivalent to the cast of Gossip Girl) [Editorial note from Lisa: Honestly, I think it's more of a cross between Gossip Girl and the new 90210. Totally fair assessment in my opinion].
I also realize that my daughter will one day read what we put out there. So, I guess you could call me relatively conservative. [Editorial comment from Lisa: If you consider wanting our book club members to call us Ms. Roecker conservative, then yes, I would agree with that statement. Of course I would also call it having a stick up your ass. But that's just me.]
That means I like to read the books BEFORE we choose them for our YA book club. But at our last meeting, something happened. It all went down so quickly, I didn't even have time to think. First we were watching a book trailer, then we were reading the premise, then we were checking out reviews and then we had chosen the book. All without me having read it first! I know, shocking, right? Anyways, Lisa was making fun of my panic stricken looks and subtle warnings that maybe this book would be inappropriate for 6th graders as the girls were chatting happily about reading BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver.
[Editorial comment from Lisa: For the record Laura looked like she was going to cry. At one point I considered giving her a paper bag to breathe into.]
As soon as everyone left, I immediately began my research about whether this book would be appropriate for our savvy 6th grade girls. Let's remember, I run into their mothers at the grocery store and they live in my neighborhood. I don't want to be responsible for exposing them to...well, anything (that's the baby in me speaking). So, you can imagine the growing pit in my stomach as I read the pages available on Harper Collins' website. Let me say, Oliver's words were amazing, hooked my right away, and I absolutely didn't want to stop reading. But I learned that the main character is a senior, like many kids her age, she went to parties and *gasp* drank alcohol and was contemplating having sex for the first time with her boyfriend.
All of these issues are totally appropriate for ages 14 and up, as the book says, but our impressionable, somewhat naive eleven, soon-to-be twelve-year-olds? I started to feel a panic attack coming on. I called Lisa, [Editorial note from Lisa: Laura called me three times and sent me two separate e-mails. When I finally answered she was out of breath and fighting back tears. I laughed at her and we got into a fight.] she got annoyed and told me to email the girls' parents.
So I did.
[Editorial note from Lisa: Laura was obsessed with getting responses. I think she was worried that the parents were going to blackball her from book club or something. She's seriously going to give herself an ulcer.]
And they wrote back the most open-minded, reassuring, responsible emails. They said things like, "...opening up lines of communication," "I prefer to have issues presented to the kids in this manner," "As long as it's YA," "...wonderful opportunity for her," "....I soooo appreciate the positive influence."
[Editorial note from Lisa: They also said things like "the girls are gushing when they leave meetings. They trust you and see you as peers." I might have cried. Just a little.]
So, wow. Crisis averted. Pretty amazing that in this age of helicopter parenting there are still parents out there who give their kids complete freedom when it comes to reading books. So, where do you stand on this issue? Do you (or will you) let your kids read whatever they choose? Fire away in the comments.