Q: With the purchase of a couple of e-book tablets for our home, how can we know if the books our 10-year-old triplets will be reading on them are age appropriate? My daughter read a book she heard about in her 4th grade class during a book report, and it ended up having significant sexual content and very questionable language. If it were a movie, it would have been rated R!
—Troubled Tablet times 3, Kinnelon, NJ
A: Dear Troubled Tablet times 3,
It can be a difficult task trying to figure out if a book is developmentally suitable for your child. The old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” still holds true, even in the age of e-books. Fortunately, there are several ways to make an informed decision about whether it will be a healthy read for your child. If there is a particular book your daughter is interested in reading, like the one she heard about in her book report, review the content in one of these ways:
- Read the book yourself. As a parent, you know your child better than almost anyone else. If you are able to read the book before she does, you can see whether its content is optimal for her and can direct her to other books if you decide it isn’t.
- Sample the story. Even though one small section of the book may not accurately reflect the whole story, a chapter or two can give you a taste of the book’s content (and its level of difficulty). You can go to a library or bookstore, or you can preview chapter or two for free wherever you buy e-books.
- Start a book club. By reading and discussing the book with your daughter—and possibly with other mother/daughter pairs—you can help her process the content and her feelings about it. That may allow her to engage in more challenging material in a supportive environment.
- Check out an expert resource. Since you won’t be able to read everything that your child wants to read, look for reviews from resources you trust (try this one or this one).
When you do find books that meet your daughter’s needs, be sure to share them with others—in your book club, at your child’s school, or even by adding them to a trusted resource list.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,