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Mama Drama: Hair Raising Reading

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Dear Mama Drama:

I have three daughters ages 13, 11, and 8. They are all avid readers and generally read well above their age level. My eight year old wants to read whatever her sisters are reading, but as they get into their teens I am not always comfortable with the content.

When there is sexual content or violence, my eight-year-old is often confused, scared, and has had nightmares, especially after reading some of the vampire books.

The girls think it isn’t a big deal, but I do.  I am not sure how to handle this with them.

~ Raising Readers

(photo credit)

Dear Raising:

Your concerns about your youngest daughter’s reading material are valid. The themes in books for teens and tweens focus on different experiences and thinking processes than books for younger children.

It can be difficult to find engaging books for advanced readers. I suggest working with your daughter’s teachers, the school or local librarian, or a clerk in the children’s section of a bookstore to find challenging yet age appropriate books. Searching the internet for age focused book lists can also be helpful, just be sure to read through the books first before you give them to your daughter.

You need to enlist your older daughters in supporting the limits you are setting on the books your youngest reads. Talk with them about your reasons and the impact you have observed reading these books has had on their sister. They don’t have to agree with you, but they do need to understand the influence they have on their sister. She looks up to them and wants to be as grown up as they are.

Find ways for the older girls to mentor and guide their sister. Have them make a list of the books they enjoyed when they were her age and share that with her. Encourage them to go to the library or bookstore to choose books together. With your girls being older you may not still read aloud at night. Consider reinstituting reading together as a family to bring these books to life.

With her sisters encouraging her to read age appropriate books, your eight-year-old will be less resistant to waiting for the right time to read their books.

If you know of some great books for eight-year-olds please share. 🙂

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Comments
  • comment avatar Susan Kaye Quinn June 18, 2010

    This is a common problem, especially for advanced readers. I know, I have three of my own! That is why I started my blog, Ink Spells, to help guide parents in content for their kid’s reading. You can check out my reviews, which include content guidelines, and I would also suggest checking out Reading Teen, since your girls may be beyond the middle grade books that Ink Spells generally covers. Reading Teen also does great content advisories for teen books. For more ideas on how to discern appropriate books for your kids, see here.

    Good for you for your involvement in your kid’s reading! 🙂

  • comment avatar Laughing Yoga Mama June 23, 2010

    Thanks for your great resources, Susan. I will definitely check them out and hope others do as well.

  • comment avatar Kelly Arele July 2, 2010

    That’s great that your kids are so into reading! If she’s not ready for the advanced books, though, she shouldn’t be exposed to them.

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