Researcher Suggests Ratings System for YA Books

By Maryann Yin Comment

Should there be a ratings system for young adult books?

Brigham Young University professor Sarah Coyne studied the 40 YA books that topped the New York Times bestseller list in the summer of 2008, identifying 1,500 “profane words” in the books.

She explained her thoughts at U.S. News: “I think we put books on a pedestal compared to other forms of media … I thought long and hard about whether to do the study in the first place—I think banning books is a terrible idea, but a content warning on the back I think would empower parents.”

According to U.S. News, profanity was broken down into five categories in the study: “George Carlin’s ‘Seven Dirty Words,’ sexual words, excretory words, ‘strong others’ (bastard, bitch) and ‘mild others’ (hell, damn).”

In the article, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) executive director Beth Yoke warned that the American Library Association (ALA) would regard the implementation of any rating system to be a form censorship.

Last summer Wall Street Journal reporter Meghan Cox Gordon wrote that YA genre was “rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity.” The YA lit community, including authors such as Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman and Speak writer Laurie Halse Anderson, all spoke out against Gordon’s piece. Judging from that incident, it would be safe to assume that YA lit fans of all ages would be opposed to a rating system. What do you think?