Thursday, April 27, 2017


I recently recommended the book The Handmaid's Tale on my FB page, and had someone ask if it was appropriate for older teenagers. I said it would be a judgment call for that parent. But, now I kind of want to change my answer.

YES! It's absolutely appropriate for older teenagers. And younger teenagers. And anyone else who starts reading the book and finds it interesting enough to continue.

I was always an avid reader. And I was definitely reading things that a lot of people would have called "inappropriate" for someone my age. I started reading Stephen King at eleven. Firestarter. My dad had bought the paperback, and when he finished reading it I swiped it from his nightstand. I haven't re-read it since, but it stands in my memory as one of my favorites. I also read all the V.C. Andrews books, and John Saul horror and more Stephen King, and scared myself silly.

By junior high I had already read all the Judy Blume books, and then came Forever. Oooooh, racy! It was a Young Adult book with S-E-X, and I read it as a Middle Grader, and it did not make me want to have S-E-X. In fact, it made me not really want to have S-E-X. Wifey was an Adult Judy Blume title, with a capital A. I didn't read the whole thing; but read the dirty parts when it got passed around my seventh grade science class. It, also, did not make me want to have S-E-X.

I feel like that is one of the concerns parents might have when wondering about the appropriateness of a book. If it's about sex and my teenager reads it, are they going to want to have sex? Books are a whole different animal from TV and movies. Books, I will always recommend. Read everything. The more you read, the more you know, and the more you know, the less likely you are to make terrible decisions about important things.

If you're worried about how a book might affect your child, have a book-club-like discussion with them while they're reading it (or after). Discussions are always a good thing in a family.

My question would be: what are the concerns about? Are you worried your child might not be able to process the material? If they can't, they'll usually just stop reading it. Or, are you worried the material might put ideas into your child's head, that weren't there before? Because, chances are, someone they know (or internet or TV or a movie) has already put those ideas there. Or, are you worried the material might give your child nightmares? Because, I will tell you, I didn't have nightmares from the book, but I just watched three episodes of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, and I am going to have nightmares.

Photo: George Kraychyk/Hulu