One of the keys to encouraging kids to read is to have a lot of books available. Not just a lot of books, but a wide range of genres, levels and styles. You have to find the 'home run' book for a reluctant reader if you want to create a lifelong reader out of him or her.
In every class there are always a few kids who read way ahead of the rest. Kids who read voraciously and devour every book in sight. These kids almost always read books that are 'too old' for them. In my classroom of 10 and 11 year olds, that means they're reading books most 13 and 14 year olds read.
Is it a problem? Should we be censoring what they read? What they have access to?
For the most part I believe the answer is no. I think parents should have lots of conversations with their kids about what they read and make those choices together. At school I do the same thing. We talk a LOT about books. But to take away their freedom of choice, stifle their interest and curiosity because we're afraid of what they might read? No.
I think most adults would be surprised at what kids read when there is freedom of choice. They don't automatically head to the books that have sex and swearing and violence. In fact, most of the kids avoid these. Even when an advanced reader raves about a mature book, most of the kids totally ignore it. Kids gravitate towards books that match their emotional maturity. They don't enjoy books that are above it. If they're not ready for the book, no matter how popular it is, they just don't read it.
In my class, I've got my books sorted into buckets. The buckets are identified on the front by genre and some buckets by author. They also have labels: At Level, Below Level, Above Level. I explain this indicated reading level and that reading level and subject matter match. They choose their reading material accordingly.
I've taught hundreds of MG & YA aged kids over the years and I've NEVER had a kid read more than 2 or 3 pages of a book they're not ready for. NEVER. EVER. On the other hand, I've had dozens and dozens of kids give up reading certain books because they were 'boring'. You guessed it, those 'boring' books are the ones with the sex and swearing and violence. If they're not ready to read it, they don't.
I think we need to trust kids & teens to make choices. They're much smarter than many people give them credit for.
Emotional readiness and maturity are the #1 factors for kids in choosing books. They make great choices. Trust them.
So, what's your opinion on censoring books for kids?