This is one of my least favorite questions, and the one I’m asked most often. The best times are when parents tell me they’ve read the book, but still ask me whether it’s appropriate for children. Yes, this has really happened. On more than one occasion.
Should your kid read my book? How the frak should I know? Some parents let their kids read the pop-up Kama Sutra at age six. Others think The Cat in the Hat will turn their children into drugged-out hippies. (Some of Seuss’ more adult works, on the other hand … but that’s another topic.)
I understand parents are busy, and don’t have the time to prescreen everything their children read. Heck, I wouldn’t have wanted my parents to limit me to books they had read first. But as an author, it’s a lot easier for me to answer the parent who asks “Does your book have any graphic sexual imagery in it?” than it is “Should my kid read it?”
The first parent is asking about my book. The second is asking me to make a parenting decision for his or her child. I have no problem trying to help, but for all our sakes, please don’t be the second parent.
Clear enough? Groovy. Because now it’s time to list all the answers I’d like to give, but probably shouldn’t….
“Should my child read your book?”
- Can you prove that’s really your child?
- Yes, but only the odd-numbered pages.
- You mean the kid standing there playing Grand Theft Auto on his Nintendo DS?
- No! She should read my books, plural. How do you expect me to quit my day job if your lazy kid only reads one?
- Yes. When he’s finished, he can let you know whether or not it’s appropriate for grown-ups.
- How do you feel about nose-picking injuries, pixie pee, and gay fire-spiders?
- I’m sorry, Jim left an hour ago. I’m his decoy. His protection. His loyal bodyguard.
- Not without a prescription.
- Wil Wheaton said my book was cool! If you don’t buy it, he’s gonna march down to this bookstore and start throwing critical hits on your ass.
- Make sure she reads it backwards so she gets all the subliminal Satanic messages.
- You must be this tall to read Stepsister Scheme. But he can read the goblin books.
- Print is dead.
- Everyone knows kids prefer to read books about younger characters. Here, try this one by Nabokov.
- Sweet Zeus, what are you saying? Nobody can read these books! We have to keep the words trapped in the pages. Can’t you hear them screaming? Always screaming and plotting their horrible, horrible revenge. Don’t open that book! Don’t let them see you!!!
Please feel free to add your own.