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Smart Strategies for Booking Hotels at Discounted Rates: A Comprehensive Guide
Booking a hotel at a discounted rate is a smart way to save money while enjoying a comfortable stay. Whether you are planning a vacation or a business trip, finding the best deals on hotel accommodations can make a significant difference to your overall travel budget. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore some smart strategies that can help you book hotels cheaply without compromising on quality or comfort.
Plan Ahead and Be Flexible with Your Dates
One of the most effective ways to book a hotel at a discounted rate is to plan ahead and be flexible with your travel dates. Hotels tend to offer lower prices for bookings made well in advance. By planning your trip ahead of time, you can take advantage of early bird discounts and special promotions.
Additionally, being flexible with your travel dates can also lead to significant savings. Consider traveling during off-peak seasons or weekdays when hotels are likely to have lower occupancy rates. By avoiding peak travel periods, such as holidays and weekends, you increase your chances of finding great deals on hotel accommodations.
Utilize Price Comparison Websites
Price comparison websites have revolutionized the way we search for and book hotels. These platforms aggregate prices from various online travel agencies and directly from hotels themselves, allowing users to compare rates easily.
When using price comparison websites, it’s essential to be thorough in your research. Compare prices across multiple platforms and pay attention to any additional fees or restrictions that may apply. Additionally, read reviews from previous guests to ensure the hotel meets your standards in terms of cleanliness, service, and location.
Sign up for Loyalty Programs and Newsletters
Many hotel chains offer loyalty programs that provide exclusive benefits and discounts to members. Signing up for these programs can give you access to member-only rates, complimentary upgrades, late check-out options, or even free nights after accumulating enough points.
In addition to loyalty programs, subscribing to hotel newsletters can be a great way to stay informed about special promotions and limited-time offers. Hotels often send out newsletters with discounted rates, promotional codes, or flash sales that can help you score a great deal on your next hotel booking.
Consider Alternative Accommodation Options
When it comes to booking hotels cheaply, it’s worth considering alternative accommodation options beyond traditional hotels. The rise of the sharing economy has opened up a whole new world of affordable lodging options.
Platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway offer a wide range of accommodations, including private rooms, entire apartments or houses, and even unique properties like treehouses or houseboats. These options often come at lower prices compared to hotels and can provide a more authentic travel experience.
However, before booking alternative accommodations, make sure to read reviews from previous guests, check the property’s location and amenities carefully, and communicate with the host to clarify any doubts or concerns you may have.
In conclusion, by following these smart strategies for booking hotels at discounted rates, you can save money while enjoying a comfortable stay during your travels. Remember to plan ahead, be flexible with your dates, utilize price comparison websites thoroughly, sign up for loyalty programs and newsletters, and consider alternative accommodation options. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to find the best deals on hotel accommodations without compromising on quality or comfort.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
MORE FROM ASK.COM
The Book Nanny
A look inside your book
I started rating books because I wanted others to have the ability to read books or recommend books to children that are both reading-level and age-appropriate. And voilà! The Book Nanny was born. All ratings come from personally reading or skimming the book specifically to rate them.
These books are for all readers. No content is questionable. There might be some mild cartoon-like violence.
These books are for most readers. Some topics, violence, or occasional language may not be suitable for all readers.
These books are for mature readers aged 13 and up. Items include frequent language, long potentially graphic battle sequences, and some or strong sex innuendos and discussion of sex.
These books are for adults only and not the faint of heart due to their content. Content may include pornographic sexual content, pervasive language, and realistic violence like torture and prolonged war sequences.
I feel comfortable recommending all G and PG-rated books. I recommend the majority of PG-13 books to the appropriate teen and adult audiences. R-rated books I recommend on a case-by-case basis. Please know that even though I do provide this information I am not responsible if you dislike or have bad experiences with any of these books. My goal is to provide more information about the books so you can select the reading experience specific to your needs.
If you have questions about a specific rating or feel like a rating needs to be changed please contact me .
How our Book Content Rating System Works
Wondering how the book content rating system on Book Cave works? Not sure what ratings to sign up for? Let us help out.
What Is Our Book Content Rating System?
On Book Cave, we use our My Book Ratings (or MBR) ebook content rating system. MBR ratings are a lot like movie ratings, and they’re divided into six groups: All Ages, Mild, Mild+, Moderate, Moderate+, Adult, and Adult+. All Ages is good for young children, with Mild being similar to a very “mild” PG movie. Both Mild+ and Moderate ratings will be somewhere around a PG or a PG-13 rating, with the moderate having slightly more intense language, heat, and violence.
Books are assigned ratings based on seven categories : crude humor/language , profanity , drug and alcohol use , kissing , nudity , sex and intimacy , and violence and horror . Within each of these categories there are levels of varying degrees, which are assigned a rating (All Ages, Mild, Mild+, Moderate, Moderate+, Adult, and Adult+). The book itself is assigned an overall rating in relation to the highest level across all categories, and the individual rating level for each of the categories is also listed in the daily deals email and on the book’s page.
For example, a book may be rated the following way: Moderate for moderate crude humor/language, some profanity (6 to 40), non-detailed fade-out sensuality, and moderate violence; also contains mild kissing. In this case, the overall rating for the book will be Moderate because of all 7 categories, Moderate is the highest rating.
So lets deconstruct this book’s rating:
- The book is considered Moderate in the crude humor/language , profanity , sex and intimacy , and violence and horror categories.
- The “ also contains ” denotes categories where the rating is lower that the book’s overall. In this case, the book is considered Mild in the kissing category.
- The drug and alcohol use and nudity categories are not mentioned, which means that there is no notable drug and/or alcohol use, and there is no nudity.
In other words, when you sign up for books rated Moderate, that does not mean that the books will have a Moderate rating in every category (i.e. up to 40 swears, moderate crude humor, passionate kissing, non-graphic discussion of sex, implied closed-door sex, moderate nudity, significant violence, and moderate drug and alcohol use). Instead, it means that at least one of those seven categories is rated as Moderate.
For example, a book may contain significant violence but have no swearing, no sex scenes, no drug or alcohol use, and no crude humor, and yet it will still be rated Moderate+. The rating would look like this: Moderate+ for significant violence.
Choosing a rating does not automatically select all the ratings below it. Let’s say you choose Moderate+. You are now signed up for books that have been given an overall rating of Moderate+, but you are not signed up for books with an overall rating of Moderate, Mild+, Mild, or All Ages. If you want those books as well, you must click the selection boxes for each of those ratings individually.
Some Tips From Us
If you want some romance in your books but don’t want intimacy, sign up for Mild and Mild+. If you prefer your romances with a bit more heat, from some discussion of sex to closed-door scenes, choose Moderate and Moderate+. For up to three on-screen sex scenes, choose Adult. For erotica, choose Adult+.
If you want action and adventure with fight scenes and violence, sign up for Moderate, Moderate+, or Adult. You would sign up for this rating even if you didn’t want any intimacy or swearing or crude humor. Then you’d look at the warnings on each book to make sure it has only the violence and not the other content you don’t want.
If you’re looking for children’s books or nonfiction advice and how-to books, be sure to sign up for All Ages. Very few books are All Ages because most books have some violence, kissing, intimacy, or alcohol use. Think of a book that is rated All Ages as similar to a clean How It’s Made episode or a show like Sesame Street .
If you’re not getting many books in your inbox, take a look at your ratings and change them to also include levels that are below the level you signed up for. So if you only signed up for Moderate, consider signing up for Mild+ and Mild as well. If the content isn’t as intense as you’d like, try signing up for a higher level.
We’ll Tell You Exactly What You’re Getting
In our emails and on our site, we’ll tell you what the book is rated and why. That way, if, for example, you want books with action and fight scenes, but no kissing or intimacy, you can check the rating description and only get the books that match your preference. Here are some examples of our ratings to help you get a feel for how our book content rating system works:
Genre: Picture Books. Rating: All Ages
Genre: Christian Fiction. Rating: Mild for mild kissing
Genre: Mysteries & Suspense, Cozy. Rating: Mild+ for mild sensuality; also contains mild (nonsexual) violence
Genre: Teen & Young Adult Fiction. Rating: Moderate for moderate violence; also contains mild kissing (If you want violence but no intimacy, you would get this book.)
Genre: Romance, Contemporary. Rating: Moderate+ for fade-out intimacy with details or significant sexual discussion; also contains moderate crude humor/language, mild substance use, passionate kissing, some profanity (6 to 40), brief nudity, and some violence (If you want a bit more heated intimacy but not much violence, you would get this book.)
Genre: Historical Fiction. Rating: Adult for non-graphic sex; also contains passionate kissing, moderate profanity (41 to 100), brief nudity, and moderate violence (If you want on-screen sex with only a few details but no crude humor or drug use, and less violence, you would get this book. Please note that there is also an adult level of “graphic sex,” and books with that level will include up to three scenes with details.)
Genre: Thriller. Rating: Adult for graphic violence; also contains moderate crude humor/language, mild kissing, some profanity (6 to 40), and non-graphic sexual references (If you’re fine with graphic violence and crude humor, but prefer only some profanity and no on-screen sex, you would get this book.)
You get the idea! Remember to sign up for all the content ratings you think you might like in your preferences . You can always choose whether or not to download a book when you see the ratings it has for each category in the ebook-deals email we’ll send to you. And as always, let us know if you have any questions.
Do you have a blog idea or topic you know our readers would love? Contact [email protected] to learn how you could get your blog featured.
Copyright 2016 by Book Cave
Reuse notice: non-commercial users, feel free to print out “how our book content rating system works” for personal use or give to friends, share online, or make a meme of, as long as you attribute and link back to this post. commercial users, you may share a link to this post or quote a short excerpt from it with attribution and a link to this site, but you may not use this post in its entirety. thank you for caring about copyright..
I am a copyeditor and a typesetter of print books, and have been editing and typesetting (using InDesign) for thirteen years. As the executive editor at Book Cave, I enjoy helping authors be successful, and I only get interrupted a little bit (ha!) by my cute, rambunctious two-year-old.
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I was supposed to receive a number to get into app. I never received one.
I have needed you for many years. Not just for myself ( I don’t read books with sexuality, language, content that is against my Christian character). Which believe me -removes 95% of books I love to read-sci-fi, thriller, mystery. But worse, the lack of rating system that is in place for movies and music, allowed my 16 year old to check out fifty shades of gray from her high school library-without my knowledge or approval. I found it hiding Under her bed, all excuses aside, it was the adults responsible for her having the availability. In high school I was the parent the dean of English hated, and I was often my daughter was made the scapegoat for parental morality. On the opposite side-so many parents agreed with me but too afraid to sacrifice their child’s grades, or ‘standing’ with the advanced English department. Perfect example is ‘the things they carried’ for Vietnam vet FICTION book. Due to my ‘up in arms’ attitude, my daughter was required to get a 5 paragraph review from her grandfather who actually served in the Vietnam war, in combat and read the REAL-LIFE story of POW John MCCain. Parents said they were afraid their child would get a low grade or be treated unfairly if they stood with me. My daughter was a -suma cum laude for her masters and grad school. She is a smart independent woman-I believe partly because she saw me stand for what was right. My morals and beliefs were not arbitrary or moveable. Sadly, she has few friends parents she can respect due to how they acted. What made me know? I read the book. It could not be read aloud in class because it would break the honor code, yet it was ok for my child to read female-shaming words as acceptable because ppl spoke that way in Vietnam. My attitude! Ppl speak that way now-the biggest insults are female directed, and females do it-but it’s not ok. I would love to find more sites like yours that actually help our society instead of making excuses. Let me know how I can help. Thank you.
Thank you for the ratings info
I’m hoping this site can help me ! I’m 75 and enjoy murder/mysteries . I do hate graphic sex in books though and crude language I love the Elly Griffith/Ruth Galloway books . Would love to find more with similar standards .
Like mystrities, not bloody messes. Love love stories. Adults
Don’t like graphic violence.
Am I right to assume that the boxes with the check in the boxes already are the boxes I want, and boxes I take away the checks are the ones I don’t want?
How do I obtain your books?
Regards JarvisMcCluskey ([email protected])
My name is Hai Dinh. I recently saw my daughter, who is 12, reading Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. I catched some adult content in Chapter 31. I wonder which age range this novel is appropriate for.
Thank you for your advice. Hai Dinh
I just found Book Cave Today, and I’m glad I did. I enjoy reading. I think I have found my new book store.
I really appreciate the information you are supplying on different rating levels. There is nothing more frustrating than to invest in a book, only to find out it is very different than you thought. I also pass over books I would have enjoyed, but the cover was unappealing. This is great!
I’m 75 and I like Thrillers, Mysteries no cozy mysteries for me.
I am 84. Read lots of books. Do not like erotica, violence,paranormal… just a good storyline without all the sexual distractions!!!! Have to skip over a lot!!!! Haven’t figured out how to get books here yet…..
Hi Tommie. Just email us at [email protected] . We’ll gladly answer any questions you may have.
Me too I am 75 and read all the time. That may be 4or5 books a day. I have had a hard time getting my books in by genue selection.
Hi Yvonne. I’ve sent you a new password.
This is wonderful. I am glad I finally stumbled onto this great site. I am 79 and not computer literate so I am thankful for your work. Thanks for providing it.
You’re welcome! We’re so glad you’re enjoying it.
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No, Books Should Not Have Content Ratings Like Movies
Julia is a professional nerd who can be spotted in the wild lounging with books in the park in Brooklyn, NY. She has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago and an MA in Media Studies from Pratt Institute. She loves fandom, theater, cheese, and Edith Piaf. Find her at juliarittenberg.com .
View All posts by Julia Rittenberg
One of the great joys of my young life was reading books pitched to older children. Graduating from picture books to chapter books with pictures, then chapter books, then longer and longer books was a big deal to me. For kids’ books in the U.S., you can usually find an age range somewhere on the flap or back cover of a book. Readers and people acquiring books for readers occasionally use this as a guide for getting books for appropriate ages. In recent years, certain groups have demanded a more robust rating system for books, similar to the MPAA rating system for movies . However, there are many reasons why books should not have content ratings like movies.
The general idea behind a “rating” system for kids’ books makes sense to me. The widespread availability of the Internet means that kids have access to some of the worst information ever documented with just a few keystrokes. Technology companies attempt to keep up with this freedom by providing methods of blocking content that could be upsetting or out-of-age-range for young children. The problem with books is that there’s no way to automatically censor content in books unless you ban them, rip out specific pages, or cross out certain words with a permanent marker.
Since books are longer and more involved than movies, they’re trickier to pin down with exact content ratings. Including age ranges can sort of help, but they don’t tell you much about the content. A 10 year old is also unlikely to have the exact same experiences or sensitivities as a 10 year old from a different country, or even one from a different neighborhood.
How Do Rating Systems Work?
Rating systems serve to place various types of media into understandable buckets. In the world of print media, the Comics Code Authority ruled the comics world with an iron fist for many years. Comics without the CCA stamp would not be stocked in stores — it was a symbol to parents that these comics were safe. The designation fizzled out eventually.
For films, the first major attempt to reign in saucy or shocking content was the Motion Picture Production Code (commonly known as the Hays Code ), which most movie studios adhered to from 1934 to 1968. In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America took over movie ratings guidance. They started with G (general audiences/all ages), M (mature), R (restricted — those under 17 require supervision), and X (no one under 16 admitted). In the 1980s, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom received pushback for their PG ratings , which led to the creation of PG-13.
Jon Lewis, author of Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle Over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry , argues that the ratings are subjective by design . We can see what he means in how certain movies are declared to be far more “adult” than others. For example, the movie Blue Valentine almost received an NC-17 rating because of a scene in which Ryan Gosling’s character performs oral sex on Michelle Williams’ character.
Gosling spoke out against this because he felt it stigmatized the act of a woman receiving pleasure, whereas other movies with oral sex performed on men tended to receive simple R ratings. This was also the birth of the feminist Ryan Gosling meme — if you remember that time on the Internet, this is your sign to stretch your weary bones.
The MPAA also historically gives R ratings or higher to movies with queer characters, even when there are no sex scenes. One of my favorite movies, Pride, received an R rating for simply dealing with the topic of AIDS and queerness. There are a few kisses between men and no nudity.
What Does This Mean for Books?
Parents don’t even seem to like the MPAA rating system all that much, criticizing it for desensitizing children to violence . So what’s the argument for a rating system for books?
The idea is that kids should not have access to stories that could upset them or expose them to difficult topics. The rating system outlined on Book Cave uses seven categories (crude humor/language, profanity, drug and alcohol use, kissing, nudity, sex and intimacy, and violence and horror), and then rates each category on a scale from All Ages to Adult+. The book is then weighted for a final rating. Common Sense Media gives detailed advice about how to assess various aspects of books and how to choose them for children, and promises to provide detailed reviews to help parents, guardians, and other stakeholders make decisions.
Age ranges and reading levels are also very hit-or-miss. Reading levels were introduced in schools to make sure students were keeping up with reading demands, so there were lots of numbers introduced to explain these levels. The important part of reading levels is that children should be able to ingest and understand the majority of the book they’re reading so they don’t get discouraged. However, kids should challenge themselves with books theoretically outside of their level so they don’t get bored.
If reading levels are determined by word difficulty alone, that can also make books look less complex than they are. Age ranges and reading levels are somewhat necessary for educators to build curricula, but kids should always be allowed to seek books outside of their “level” or assigned classroom work. I’m an advocate of the method “bring kid to library and let them explore for three hours,” as my caretakers did for me.
There are problems with rating systems that use categories to determine appropriateness as well. A book might not have violence in it explicitly, but it could have imagery that gives your child a nightmare. We can’t determine how kids will react to reading in general, so over-arching rules and categorical rating systems are limited.
Rating systems that determine how “adult” a book is also impose a certain kind of life experience on childhood. They present a monolithic idea of maturity: a child can only read about violent content when they’re of the age to be familiar with it. There are children in the world who are familiar with curse words, or have experience with violent or upsetting events. “Milestones” in childhood are impossible to pinpoint because people’s life experiences are so wildly different.
Reading about difficult topics, whether or not children have experienced them, can be a good way to process complex emotions. It’s also an important way for children to develop language and understanding around “inappropriate” topics.
How Levels and Ratings Work in Real Life
At the surface, none of this sounds necessarily bad . Parents obviously want kids to read, but they don’t want kids diving into books with intense horror that will scare a 7 year old or overt descriptions of sex before a parent has had ‘The Talk’ with their kid.
There are so many ways that these restrictions fail young readers. Saying that you can’t read a book until you’ve had an experience is very silly. For example, if a book includes a description of a person getting their first period, you could theoretically say that is inappropriate for 11 year olds. Well, what if you’re one of those people who got their period at a very young age? Or what if you don’t get it until you’re a little older? There are simply too many differing life experiences to impose a general rule of propriety on all kids and teens.
In covering censorship news, Book Riot routinely comes across groups like Moms for Liberty advocating for “parental rights.” Danika Ellis explained the shortcomings of their kind of thinking:
“Groups like this advocating for “parental rights” assume that parents are inherently conservative. They treat their perspective as ‘common sense,’ that no parent would want their kids to have access to a picture book that shows a boy wearing a dress, or their teenager to be able to read a book with a sex scene in it, or one that teaches safer sex practices, or one that discusses rape. But there are just as many (and likely many more) parents who want their kids to be able to access LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and diverse books.”
These parental rights groups are also obsessed with censoring and banning books that deal with race , hiding the very fact of non-white people from their lily-white delicate students. Mega-popular YA books All American Boys and The Hate U Give are routinely challenged and banned by parents who feel the subject matter is inappropriate for children. I have to assume they’re using the categories of profanity and violence to support their bigoted arguments.
But How Do We Protect the Children?
I’m not a parent, so I can’t viscerally understand the need to protect your child from the various horrors of the world. The technology available to kids means that we have very little control over what they see. We can keep telling kids not to talk to strangers, but much of the information out there is out of our control.
I see how people obsessed with controlling kids’ access to information landed on books. It’s a discrete physical item that you can remove from a library, a school, or your child’s bookshelf. Removing something “dangerous” gives the illusion of safety. We’ve saved the children by not allowing them to read Maus !
I’m personally of the opinion that all reading is good reading. Even if a kid doesn’t like a book, it’s an opportunity for a conversation. If they read something particularly scary or upsetting, it’s an opening to discuss potentially difficult topics in a safer way. I would prefer my child learn about upsetting facts through a book than through encountering them in real life. Words on a page are a safer way to experience and explore emotions.
No matter what we want to protect our children from, there’s probably a kid out there who has experienced something similar. Fiction is a safer place to explore difficult topics, but it is important for parents to find books that handle difficult topics with care. The resources I recommend for finding books for your children already exist: children’s librarians, summaries on back covers, and discussions with other people about what they thought of particular books.
I think a lot of us want to construct an impenetrable circle of safety around young people. I’m deeply upset by how many awful things happen to children every day, and I wish I could preserve their innocence by clicking my fingers and stopping school shootings in the United States. Taking away books doesn’t save them, though. Words on the page are ultimately much safer to experience than anything in the real world, but books are easier to point to as the problem. The real world and the terrible things that happen to children are harder to control and harder to stomach.
Book Riot covers censorship news and ways to resist book bans , and you can also check out these books for beginning readers and tips for helping beginning readers .
Forging a path forward for school libraries amid book challenges and bans
The critical role of academic libraries (and fiction) during the enrollment downturn.
- Q&A: Matthew Krogh, author of the book behind the HBO series “The White House Plumbers”
- Readers turn to books to cope with the Russia-Ukraine crisis
- Point of View videos
- Point of View: Michael Fumagalli, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning, Glenbard High School District 87
- Publishers & Booksellers
- point of view videos
- January 2022
- September 2020
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- October 2019
- November 2018
National book ratings for parents?
By Maria Kennefick, Library Media Assistant | November 2018
Should books be rated the same way we rate movies and television? We’ve all heard comments such as this:
“The ‘Smut Patrol’ doesn’t want you to read the novel The Kite Runner because it includes sexual violence, and others believe it promotes Islam and terrorism. I don’t see how it can promote both of those at the same time, but what do I know?” – Public school library media assistant
Parents are constantly challenging books and demanding they be banned in K-12 schools nationwide. These parents are worried about the contents’ influence on their children and are attempting to protect them. Other parents believe that each family has the right to decline the use of a specific title assigned to their child for homework. There’s a slippery slope between parents wishing to restrict access to books for their child and censorship of books accessible to the student body at large.
Common complaints for book themes are vast; profanity, suicide, sexuality, nudity, violence, racism, witchcraft, undermining religious beliefs, euthanasia, drugs and death are just the tip of the iceberg.
How do parents and educators decide what books are appropriate for K-12 students? Schools today have a wider variety of books to choose from than ever before.
Parents have a hard time keeping up with the subject matter, can’t possibly read each title beforehand and get overwhelmed when looking up the books online.
“My sixth grade child has the reading ability of a 12th grader. She may be able to read a novel being used in 12th grade, but I’d like to be sure the maturity level is appropriate for her age.” – Public school parent
There are three tools often used for choosing books for young readers: Lexile measure, star rating and ATOS levels. But do these tools address the content or child development?
The Lexile measure is only an indicator of student literacy and is not a reference assessing content. Many teachers use the Lexile measure to help decide which titles are best for their students. Generally, this “student reading ability” is measured in ranges from 0L-2000L:
For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is measured 880L and considered to be at the ability of grades 5-6. What if the child’s only in third grade, but can read at grade six? This tool isn’t designed to answer this question.
The star-rating system is used by Amazon and based on popularity. Amazon.com rates juvenile and young adult books with 1-5 stars. Typically, one star is a poor rating and five stars is a superior rating. Amazon, and most others using the star-rating system, allows any and all users to rate books.
For example, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is rated almost five stars (as of Nov. 6, 2018). Parents may find popularity an inappropriate way to decide whether their child should read a five-star book, especially when this title’s appeared on many banned book lists.
ATOS levels are similar to Lexile measures and rate books based on reading ability.
The ATOS level specifies the difficulty of text using a range of 0.1-12.0. For example, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a 5.3 and prime for fifth grade readers.
These tools don’t address parental concerns about themes. A maturity or content-specific rating system hasn’t been developed on a national level and is needed to guide parents – and may be able to prevent censorship.
Common Sense Media does have content ratings for books. This nonprofit organization provides education to families to promote safe technology and media for children.
There are eight categories used on the Common Sense Media website for book reviews, with each category rated on a scale of 0-5 (three being a fair amount of content and five meaning a large amount of content):
- Educational Values
- Positive Messages
- Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
- Positive Role Models & Representations
For example, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is recommended with a checkmark of approval for ages 16 and older. This novel isn’t developmentally appropriate for readers younger than 16, according to Common Sense Media’s ratings.
The Kite Runner is given a five for violence, educational material and language, a two for consumerism and a one for language. This title’s also rated five stars for overall quality and learning potential.
Wouldn’t it be easier for parents if ratings were simplified and found in one place?
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A nationwide book rating system could be created that emulates the film or television rating systems. These two rating systems have trained us for decades to recognize whether there is profanity, nudity, sex or violence.
The Motion Picture Association of America film rating system :
- G – General Audience. All ages admitted.
- PG – Parental Guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
- PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
- R – Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
- NC-17 – No one 17 and under admitted.
We could even get as specific as the television content rating system :
- TV-Y – Programs aimed at a very young audience, including children from ages 2-6.
- TV-Y7 – Programs most appropriate for children age 7 and up.
- TV-Y7-FV – Programming with fantasy violence that may be more intense or more combative than other programming in the TV-Y7 category.
- TV-G – Programs suitable for all ages; these are not necessarily children’s shows.
- TV-PG – Parental guidance is recommended; these programs may be unsuitable for younger children.
- TV-14 – These shows may be unsuitable for children under 14.
- TV-MA – These programs are intended to be viewed by mature, adult audiences and may be unsuitable for children under 17.
If we had a national book ratings system in place, teachers could then design their curriculum and include this information for parents to reference. This would be less time consuming for parents.
“As a mother I could say, ‘You can’t watch that R movie, but you can watch any PG movie.'” – Private school parent
But not everyone agrees.
“Any rating system is highly subjective, even arbitrary. We live in such a multicultural society, I am not sure there is a way to standardize it. It is an issue I run into frequently here, with sixth graders wanting to read the books their high school friends recommend. I prefer not to do any formal rating system. I want the students who are looking for it to be able to find it, and I want the students who wish to avoid it to be able to do so with ease. The very best way for a parent to monitor a kid’s reading material is to simply read it themselves.” – Library media assistant at a 6-12 public school
Is a national book rating system a good idea? Tell us why or why not in the comments section.
7 thoughts on “ National book ratings for parents? ”
I like the information on common Sense Media, it has greatly helped me to choose books for my 6th grader son. For me anything sexual is out of bounds.
I agree with Larena, in that the Movie rating system is simple and concise. And, as they also do with TV shows, have the letters similar to the South African rating system available: D (Drugs), L (Language), P (Prejudice), S (Sexual Situations), V (Violence). Just as Nutrition Information is required on food packaging and available from the USDA, retailers should be able to obtain this information easily, such as using the ISBN number to get information from the Library of Congress,
As far as the Word Police, parents and guardians should be taking an active role in what is available to their children. With regards to adults, we can be forewarned before purchase or rental.
Rating books like movies is an interesting thought and I hope there will be more discussion on it. Since the general public is already accustomed to understanding that rating system. ANYthing would be better than to allow a few to make a decision for the masses to burn books! Thank you for an enlightening article, Ms Kennefick.
Of the examples listed in the article, I would prefer the television content ratings system style, but adapted to literature. I like to see the different aspects broken out so that parents and students can determine which type of content they may find objectionable or educational. I would include trigger warnings in these ratings as well. I think it is important to include the students in the process of choosing what is and is not appropriate as they often know better than their parents what they’ve already been exposed to, especially for high school and middle school aged children. So, if a general ratings system were introduced, I would hope that it would be determined by professional educators, professionals in mental health, sociologists, parents, and perhaps most importantly, by students themselves.
Wish we would have had this rating when my kids were in middle school. Many of the recommended books for our daughter in 7th grade had either violence or detailed sexual scenes.
Ms. Kennefick makes some excellent points. I agree, parents and students would benefit from a national
Very clear and concise piece. Working as a library media assistance at a high school, I too have had to help students and parents with age appropriate content. Would a rating system for literature be a crutch or benefit? Who would then become the word police?
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What Makes a Book ‘Age Appropriate’?
BY Laura Simeon • April 27, 2022
Reviews of books for young people in trade journals conclude with suggested age ranges. As battles over so-called “inappropriate” content in kids’ and teen books heat up—debates that crystallize conflicts over changing societal values—school librarians nationwide report that some administrators are incorrectly treating these age recommendations as prescriptive and using them to craft policies that override the expertise of library professionals and limit students’ access to books.
By contrast, I’ve sometimes seen parents misunderstand reviews’ age ranges as purely signaling the difficulty of the vocabulary, which can lead to pushing children with advanced literacy skills to read material aimed at those with more years of life experience and developmentally different social-emotional needs.
Underlying these contrasting attitudes are opposing fears about the consequences of reading the “wrong” books. On the one hand, there’s the anxiety that kids will suffer emotional distress, lose a romanticized notion of childhood innocence, be brainwashed into harmful beliefs, or be tempted into immoral behavior. On the other hand, there are worries that not reading “challenging enough” books will lead to kids’ stagnating intellectually and falling behind their peers.
Reading, however, is always about what readers bring to books. The same work can kick-start life-changing insights for one reader or, for another, serve as light entertainment (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading purely for fun and escape). Books can be upsetting and confusing—but so can real life. Unlike real life, readers can skim, skip, take breaks, and walk away. One important function of story has always been to vicariously work through strong emotions as catharsis or preparation for reality.
When reviewers recommend an age range for a book, they consider many elements, including the ages of the main characters, the complexity of the writing (vocabulary, sentence and narrative structures), and the developmental stage it is aimed at. Age ranges are intended as general guideposts, not absolutes, and are based on reviewers’ experiences introducing large numbers of young people to a variety of books. They are a starting point for consideration, not a substitute for any adult’s understanding of a specific community, classroom, or individual child or teen.
Here are some 2022 titles that show how similar subject matter can be presented in very different ways in order to resonate with middle-grade vs. young adult audiences. Each of these titles covers much more than these broad themes and holds appeal for those beyond the age ranges listed in our reviews—especially given the fuzzy line between upper-middle-grade and lower YA, and upper YA and new adult.
Two books that look at divorce and parents’ mental health struggles are, for middle grade, A Song Called Home by Sara Zarr (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, March 15) and, for YA, A Furry Faux Paw by Jessica Kara (Page Street, May 24).
Young people confront the complexities of racism in the middle-grade title The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Scholastic, June 7) and the YA novel The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho (HarperTeen, June 14).
Two titles that handle the sensitive and painful subject of abuse are Caprice by Coe Booth (Scholastic, May 17) for middle-grade readers and All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill/Penguin, March 1) for teens.
Disordered eating and body dysmorphia come up in the middle-grade graphic novel Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis (Roaring Brook Press, May 3) and the YA novel And They Lived … by Steven Salvatore (Bloomsbury, March 8).
The painful impact of societal messages about appearance is explored in Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins, March 15) in middle grade, and Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt (Knopf, April 5) in YA.
Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.
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words come alive the moment you let them exist
The Marie Rating System for Books
A new Rating System for readers.
Because no two readers are the same, and but no one should be afraid to read..
The Marie Rating System for Books is the rating system I use for all my reviews. For anyone else who wants to adopt the system, this page is dedicated to teaching you how to use the system. If you have any questions regarding clarity, feel free to contact me.
Please note that as of right now (May2022), this system is specified for FICTION books. There is a lot of nuance to Nonfiction, poetry, and some other types of plays and short stories, that this will not work for — or at least that’s what I think. I don’t know too much about nonfiction to be completely sure about this.
Sources for Inspiration: Genre sources ( one , two , three ) and general sources for the MBR see here and here . Others on the Compass Book Rating and the Novel Book Ratings sites.
My OG Rant about book ratings.
The Marie Rating System for Books is a five part system designed around the fact that books can not be classified into single age range categories, without taking specific considerations into account. Also I believe books need content warnings and theme labels, as this can only work to the benefit of the reader’s experience.
This looks like:
Lead Genre | Reading Level – Content Rating | Content Warnings | Themes
Genre: The category that the content of the novel would fall under
Reading Level: The marketing audience/reading audience intended
Content Ration: Based on the audience, a one letter rating based on the content of the novel
Content Warnings: are warnings to the reader on what the book contains, specifically trigger warnings.
Themes: information on the themes addressed in the book.
Genre, while complex and complicated, I have decided to narrow down in specific groups. These groups (while not the end all be all) are the general categories for the majority of fiction novels. Genre is the expectation of a novel. Above all else, genre defines the reader’s experience. Thus it MUST come first.
Contemporary, expanded genre list.
The parent category is the category in which most of these genres will fall under. I know that there is an argument for more than what I have listed. Additionally this is not exactly inline with the way that marketing works for books in the current publication sphere BUT I don’t care.
For this reason I have not made “literary” and “Speculative” as their own genres. I have made them subsets of other genres. This is in part because I think both terms are classist and inherently place themselves above genre, which results in an unequal balance. I don’t believe that any one genre is better than any other. Thus while I do agree that there is a different writing style for both literary and speculative fiction, both have become subsets of all the parent categories.
The way I decided the other subcategories under each parent category was by combining tropes or types of stories (or using terms we already have). For a lot of these I had difficulty narrowing it down into overarching types. Takes Sci-Fi for instance, there are a lot of specific troupes in the genre rather than genre defining words, so I had to create genres to fit those types. I used a few different sources to help me with creating these lists. Namely these three ( one , two , three )
Do I think this is all the possible genres in the world? No. These are just the general categories I want to use for my rating system. If there are any you think I missed, let me know. Subcategories for the parent genres are as follows:
FANTASY SCIENCE FICTION HORROR
Exploration (Time or Space)
Alien (Mind or Being)
Creationism (Virtual Reality, Robots, or Creatures)
Monsters and Ghouls (Vampires, Were, etc)
Ghosts and Demons
THRILLER & CRIME
Romance contemporary historical other.
Science Fiction Romance
Alternate History (Fantasy)
Alternate History (Sci-Fi)
READING LEVELS AND CONTENT RATINGS
So we know our general audience from genre? Who is your specific audience?
This is the primary question that both of these sections ask. Reading levels and content ratings go hand in hand. Not all books are the same, and not all readers are the same. Some want more intense content than others, while some just want feel good reads. While the reading levels and content ratings can not explain everything, they can explain who the book is meant for AGE wise and MATURITY wise.
I based reading levels off of current industry standards, and content ratings is based on video games and movies. Because both of these topics are a lot more nuanced in their combination, there is a full breakdown.
BR (Beginning Readers) – New born through 8
PB (Picture Books) – Age 6 through 12
C (Children’s Novels)- Through age 12
MG (Middle Grade) – Age 8 through age 14
YA (Young Adult)- Age 12 through age 20
NA (New Adult)- Age 18 – 24
A (Adult) – 25+
PW (Parental Warning or Personal Warning)
What is a theme? It is a core story question that the characters interact with. It is the big idea of the novel or an underlying message.
Examples: What is identity?
We often identify themes with large and grand sweeping questions and gestures: What is it to be evil? What is it to be human?
This is true, in the literary sense. However, I think all books touch on themes at least a little. It might not be trying to teach some grand gesture, but they do have themes. Which is why I break this down (for the rating system) into key words.
You can have things such as:
Coming of Age
Saving the World
Obviously above is not the end all be all for themes. I really don’t want to restrict this, but I would like to like to implore those using this system to stick to one word or two word general statements for themes. This is not supposed to be a second blurb.
Words and phrases that will reveal the theme without giving too much away are what we are looking for when labeling themes for the MBR. These should be positive in general, or more positive. I would not expect for all themes to be positive themes, but this is going to be the section that shows the positives of the book. We want the themes to invoke the concepts and intentions of the novel, as well as explain what sort of impact is intended.
These are the warnings that are essentially the triggers for the book. These are NOT necessarily why the book is rated how it is (content rating) for that is based on a scale, but rather things that the author should know are in the book before reading. Character Death in a YA-D is different than character death in a YA-PW, but they are both character deaths. Destruction in a YA-M is different than a YA-E but it is still destruction. As such it will still be listed, it just won’t be expected to be as violent.
Trigger warnings are warnings to protect people from having a reaction to the content. This is a protection measure, so that a person knows whether to pick up a book or not based on their own personal interests. The intensity of the content in the book does inform the rating in a way, but to say that death can only be in YA-D or higher, is not fair, because all people should have the chance to touch and explore mature topics, what matters is how they are handled in the book.
Anything and everything can be a content warning. But if Theme is all about intention, Content Warnings are all about sensitivity. Character death might be a content warning but “processing loss” might be a theme. The two can (and should in some cases) work hand in hand. Also use content warnings to explain other things in the novel that might need to be known that may not otherwise have a place. (Weapons, explicit content, etc.)
USING THE SYSTEM
When all is said and done, this system is intended to be simple. If you are spending more than five minutes filling out the parts, then I have done something wrong. I don’t want this to take too much time (unless there are a ton of content warnings). This does not mean it should not be accurate and consider the readers. Easy and simple to complete and elaborate for those who see it. Reading the system should tell you exactly what to expect.
I tend to fill out the system from the ends in. Genre first, then themes and content warnings. Once I have those in place, I consider the audience and pick what age its for and what maturity of that audience is expected.
For text based use I recommend the text based format.
Genre | Reading Level – Content Rating | Content warnings |Themes Text based format for the Marie System for Rating Books
I will be creating fill in PDF images (I hope) for all of the base genres. This will be color coded dependent on the parent genre (there will be colorless versions for accessibility too). I will hopefully add the link here at some point.
EXAMPLES will be in a separate page so that this one is not overwhelming.
If you have any other questions. Feel free to contact me.
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