Sunday, November 30, 2014

Check the intended age for children's books before purchasing

Why won't people read the description of books before buying them for what turns out to be the wrong expectation or for the wrong people? My ebook, Mr. King's Daughter, very clearly talks about getting the protagonist a husband. It is clearly identified as a  YA (Young Adult) story. One reviewer had already described it as a good coming of age story. Bedtime story??? Clearly NOT
Yet here is a reviewer's comment. He bought it as a bedtime story for his daughter!!! Cheez!

"I had bought this book to read it to my daughter for her bedtime story. Thankfully I browsed through the book before telling her about this book. I couldn’t even go through the entire book. Never reading any such book to my kid or letting her read it, ever! "

So he gives it a one star rating. I hope he gets back his 99 cents!

But this brings up the continued confusion in some people's minds about the different classifications for children's books.

I write for different ages from picture story books to Young Adult in what is broadly the children section of literature. There is a vast difference in the books for the age groups and some overlapping in all the groups. As we know, children mature at different rates and books should be chosen to match the level they are at.

In Jamaica, as soon as one mentions children's books, most persons immediately think of picture books. My fellow writers have had similar experiences of promoting a new Middle Grade book and being invited by a book store to read. The announcement that there will be a reading invariably brings out mainly the very little ones. Since the Middle Grade book is not suitable for this age group, we have to do a shift and choose a book suitable for the age group from the shelves. End of promotion. No use telling the store that the book is meant for an older age group.They will say it's not them it's the parents, who think that since the reading is of a children's book, it must be for the younger ones. Very frustrating. 

When YA(young adult) books are projected to cover the age range 12 to 18 years, it is easy to see an immediate problem. There is a difference in orientation/life experiences between a twelve year old and an 18 year old. It is all very confusing. Should a story for an 18 year old be judged in the same category as that for a twelve year old?

Here's a quotation from an earlier post on this blog about this and other challenges relating to classifying children's books

0- 3 years –picture books
3-6 years – picture books
6-8 years – picture story books/ early chapter books
8 to 12 years – chapter books/novels
12 to 14 – chapter books/ novels

These age divisions may vary for different publishers. For example, some publishers now use 9 to 13 as a ‘tween age – not quite young adult not completely past chapter books.

These divisions are necessary as guides to writers, illustrators, and readers/purchasers of books. Children's reading readiness, their interests and needs vary from one group to the next, and books should reflect this.

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