It seems we are to get age guidance on children’s books. The question is whether this is helpful or not.
Some quotes from yesterday’s Guardian Review; “which seven-year-old?” and “it’s not the age that’s important, but who the child is”. True. But if the book says age 7+ and you are buying for an exceedingly clever seven-year-old, you might decide to go for a 10+ instead. And some people are so out of touch with children’s reading, as well as with the child they are buying for, that any guide will be a help. Kind of the book equivalent of remembering that a two-month-old will neither resent the fact that her older brother gets chocolate for Christmas, nor that she won’t be able to make much use of the chocolate buttons offered as being more baby-ish.
Last week’s meeting with Derek Landy I was accompanied by a borrowed nine-year-old. Giggly, spontaneous and friendly, and so very mature. I wish they were all like that…
Some years ago I picked up a very tatty copy of Nina Bawden’s The Witch’s Daughter (how apt!) in the school fair. It was the original Puffin from the sixties, and the reading age was given as 8+. I thought it sounded a bit young, for me, but decided to push on with reading it anyway. Not only is it a good book, but it’s not that easy a read either. I came to the conclusion that an eight-year-old forty years ago was supposed to be more advanced in their reading.
Dumbing down. So, consider who gives the advice, and how many decades ago. Then adjust to what your needs are.