How to Monitor Your Child’s Reading Habits without Banning Books

Book banning is not the solution—talk to your kids about what they're reading and how you feel about it.

There's a fine line between concern for what your kids read and outright censorship.

People promoting book bans often say they’re a great way to prevent children from reading inappropriate materials that detail sex and sexuality. However, book bans prevent everyone from reading these materials and prevent kids from learning important information regarding their bodies. So, how do we ensure our kids read appropriate content for their age?

Check out this article for some tips to help ensure your kids read age-appropriate content!


Ways to Check What Your Kids Are Reading

Here are a few ways to monitor your kids' reading habits without banning books. Remember, this is only a first step to see what your children are reading. There is no need to get angry or punish your children if you see something that you don’t like—it’ll only encourage them to avoid sharing their interests with you.

1. Ask Them What They’re Reading

The best way to find out what your kid is reading is to ask them! Really, it’s that simple. Not only will asking them what they like to read be a great conversation starter, but it’ll also show your children that you care about their interests.

2. Go With Them to Check Out Books

Going with your child to the public library is another excellent way to show your kids that you’re interested in what they like to do. For younger children especially, finding books to read together is also a great bonding experience!


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3. Talk to Your Child’s Librarian

If you’re concerned about what your children are reading or checking out from the library, schedule a time to meet with their school librarian. They can help give you a deeper understanding of how the school library works to keep children safe and engaged with reading while also working with you to find a way to help your child find age-appropriate books that fit their interests. 

4. Look At and Discuss Your Child’s Checkouts When Unpacking Their Backpack

When you and your child unpack their backpack after school, ask them about their reading choices and let them know if there are any titles you’re uncomfortable with. Sometimes, taking a peek at their desks or glancing at their bookbags is okay too, but make sure you don’t break their trust!  Empowering Parents has a great article about determining when it’s okay to “spy” on your child and what most people consider spying. 

5. Discuss Course Materials with Their Teachers

It’s natural to be curious about what your kids are learning in school. That’s why teachers are ready to answer any questions you have about course material! If you’re concerned about what your kids are learning in school, consult their teacher for more information.


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Don’t Like What Your Kid’s Reading? 

So your kids are reading something inappropriate for their age. That’s not good! Before throwing a fit, use these techniques first:

Ask Yourself Why

Before confronting your child, ask yourself: Why am I upset about my child reading this book?

Sometimes, your child could be reading something inappropriate for their age, like a fifth grader reading Stephen King’s The Shining or a younger teen reading Fifty Shades of Grey. These novels are certainly not for children because they contain explicit scenes depicting violence, abusive behavior, or sex.

In other situations, you might not like a book your child reads because it conflicts with your beliefs. For example, an age-appropriate book about gender nonconformity, like Jacob’s New Dress, doesn’t detail graphic depictions of violence or sex. Children’s horror like the Animorphs series and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline are also books directly aimed at children that are meant specifically for them.

Talk to Them!

If you’re concerned about what your child’s reading and know that it might be inappropriate for their age or too scary for them, say it! Sit down with your kid and tell them how you feel about the content they’re reading, and try to compromise with them. Read Coraline alongside them, and you can discuss what you find scary and how to rationalize that fear. Maybe you’ll learn something too!



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