Should books be catergorised by age?

Should books be catergorised by age?

Twitter is a wealth of conversation topic starters – and one that popped up recently is around how we catergorise children’s books. Usually children’s books get thrown into some almost random age bracket grouping – and so few people seem to know exactly what they mean. Particularly when each child is different and so are reading levels.

There is the concern that children feel they can’t enjoy a book if it’s marketed at an age younger than they are. There is also the issue with children who are reading ‘above their age level’ and trying to find appropriate material. Saying a book is suitable for 8yrs+ doesn’t tell someone if it’s a difficult read, or if it has levels of violence appropriate for that age but that wouldn’t be suitable for an advanced 6yr old.

So… I’ve made the executive decision (yay being the blog owner) to change from doing age based categories to something (hopefully) more informative. Let me know what you think:

Read To Me:

  • Picture books designed to be read aloud to a child, may have easy stories with bright pictures, or more complicated stories with detailed pictures, usually in hardback form. Suited exceptionally well for under 5s, usually too complicated (or graphically challenging) as an early reader.

Early Readers

  • Designed with a larger, clear font (high contrast, no exciting fonts, not hidden by graphics) and large pictures. One to two sentences per page (may only have three to five words per sentence).

Confident Readers

  • Font size is probably starting to get smaller, often one to two paragraphs per page (although paragraphs & sentences may be short). May use more ‘interesting’ font styles (varying font design, wiggling sentence lines).

Long Readers

  • Two or more paragraphs per page, usually with longer sentences. Can be over 20 pages long. Will have images, at least one image per double page (usually one page of text and the opposite page as an image).

Beginning Chapter Books

  • Still using larger print, and may have some pictures (often black and white illustrations), with several paragraphs per page. Usually over 30 pages long.

Challenging Readers

  • Full page of text with a smaller print size. Usually over 50 pages long and often have older themes (possibly starting to look at sexual relations, issues around physical appearance etc).

Within each category I’ll tag with any potential issues that may cause a problem with a child (e.g. some children would be more upset with the dinosaurs depicted in Imagine than others).

Can you think of any other categories needed or does this cover children’s books? Are there better categories (or better descriptions) that you can think of?

I’ll see how these go, but any and all feedback is welcome.