Clean reading for tweens at Hollis Library

It’s a weekday night you and your budding reader are in the Children’s Room looking for some new reading material, but nothing will do. You give your child book after book and everyone is rejected. Everything is either too boring, not challenging enough, or your child speaks those dreaded words, “That book is for little kids. I want to go to the teen area.”

Congratulations you now have a tween reader on your hands. Tweens are defined as children between the ages of 8 and 12. They are not teenagers yet, but they are at that awkward stage where things suddenly are labeled as cool or uncool. Books, unfortunately, are defined in this similar manner by tweens mainly because most popular books on the market now are in the young adult or teen area of the library, but that doesn’t mean all books in the teen area are inappropriate.

Some of the books in the teen area are what they call Middle Grade Books or Younger Teen Books, meaning they are in-between children and teen books. Most libraries don’t know where to put these books because they are enjoyed by tweens and teens so they end up in the teen area mixed in with books that are meant for older teens ages 15 and older.

It can get confusing when you walk over with your tween and see all the books in the teen area because you don’t know what will be good for your child and what will be too old for them. There is hope at the end of the book rainbow though – the Clean Reads for Tweens and Younger Teens pamphlet.

I have created an easy-to-use pamphlet full of book suggestions, tips, and Internet resources. They are on hand in the Children’s Room and the Young Adults area at the Hollis Social Library, and on our Web site under the Tween and Tween tab. So when your child starts shoving book after book in your face, don’t panic – relax. The pamphlet and I are here to help you through this transition.

Miss Amanda’s Helpful Tips:

1. Read the summary. Usually if a teen book has mature or violent themes in it, the summary on the back or inside flap will give parents a clue as to whether the book is suitable or not.

2. Sometimes books will highlight the age group at the bottom of the inside flap or back of the book. Most books don’t do this and it’s a shame, but it’s always worth a look.

3. Ask another parent if their child has read it. Another parent might be able to shed some light on the material in the book.

4. Take the book home and read it yourself. The absolute 100 percent way to tell if a book is too old for your child is to read it first. You are the best judge as to what child can and cannot handle. Reading the same books as your child is also a great way to bond with them.

5. Use the Internet. The Internet has some fantastic media sites out there that can help determine if books are appropriate for a certain age group. The best Web site I’ve found is www.commonsensemedia.org/. This Web site has book reviews and age ratings, as well as deals with movies, video games and TV shows. For more Internet resources, please check out the Clean Reads pamphlet at the library.

6. Ask a librarian. I am always here to help, and so are other children and teen librarians. This is part of our job, and we try our very best to familiarize ourselves with the current and classic literature for children and teens. We may not know every book out there, but we will try our very best to help.

7. If all else fails, take a leap of faith and let them read it. If they are just begging and pleading with you to read a book, and some of the above tips are not giving you the answers, you may want to let them read it on their own. Your child will know what they can and cannot handle. Encourage them to come to you and talk about the book if they have any questions. Have them read it out loud to you so you can discuss any themes or situations together.