Age Recommendations

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When looking at books for my son I find that the age suggestions listed on websites or sometimes on the back of the book itself does not have anything to do with what my son enjoys. For instance just a couple days ago I did a post called Kids Pick listing a few books that my 2 1/2 year old son has been enjoying recently. When I went to check the recommended age ranges for these books i find that they should be way over his head but in fact he understands each story, points out his favorite parts and if his picking them out night after night is any indication at all he likes them too.
According to the Houghton Mifflon Harcourt website Curious George Goes to a Costume Party is recommended for ages 5 - 8 years. I have looked all over the Internet for what this means and so far haven't found much. It certainly can not mean that children under age 5 would not enjoy a Curious George book. Could it be that children under age 5 should not read it due to content? It does talk about Halloween but it's not scary in any way. The only thing I can think of is that someone from the publisher is guessing that a child under 5 would not have the skills to read this book and a child over the age of 8 would no longer be interested in it. If that is the case is seems a little narrow minded to think that all children would fit into this reading range.
Turns out in the UK they have been going back and forth about the merits of adding ages to their children's books for a while now. Take a read here. As a former bookseller I have to tell you that adults do not use the age recommendations on books. They don't even look at them most of the time and when they do they usually ask a bookseller if they think that is accurate. Probably because the recommended age ranges don't make logical sense.
So what I wonder is if you look up the recommended ages for the books your children like, where do your children's actual ages fit in?

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - none right now i am waiting for next month's round of mags to come into the house
Book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Audio - Touch and Go: A Memoir by Studs Terkel

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