Book News Roundup: UK “Deathly Hallows” Paperback Due this Week, JKR Against Book “Age Banding” and More

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Jul 07, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

While there has been much ado recently with the long awaited release of glorious high res new photos from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the HBP video game news, we do have updates regarding the Harry Potter books series today.

First a reminder that the UK paperback of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released on Thursday, with pre-orders available from several retailers (including via our Cauldron Shop) who will ship here to the US. As the paperback release is this week, the UK publishers Bloomsbury have now ‘unlocked’ the seventh compartment on the Hogwarts Express train via their Swot Up on Potter mini-site. Please note: There is still no word as to when the US publishers plan to release their paperback version of Deathly Hallows, and we will of course update once that does become available.

J.K. Rowling is one of many authors now, who publicly oppose plans by UK publishers to include ‘age bands’ on children’s books. Adding to an online petition, JKR included her name alongside authors such as Terry Pratchett, Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Horowitz, and Alan Garner in a stance against publishing age guidelines on the front of these books. The Guardian reports that publishers this fall will release books that “will bear a logo indicating they are suitable for readers aged 5+, 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+/teen.” The paper notes this scheme has attracted the interest of “Random House, Penguin and Scholastic,” but states that “Rowling’s publisher Bloomsbury currently has no plans to introduce the label for any of its authors, although it has not ruled out the idea.” We do not know if this plan will go into effect here in the US, and will update with more on this when we can.

Finally, the Japanese edition of “Deathly Hallows” will be released later this month. To celebrate this, several days ago, Amazon held a special showing of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” the handwritten book by J.K. Rowling, which the online retailer purchased last year. Amazon also reports that there have been “more than 70,000 advance orders” for the Japanese edition of the seventh Harry Potter book.





40 Responses to Book News Roundup: UK “Deathly Hallows” Paperback Due this Week, JKR Against Book “Age Banding” and More

Avatar Image says:

Good for Jo! I can’t believe there are places that STILL don’t have the 7th book. I’d die if that were me.

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I agree with Jo (and Pullman who’s also against the band), it’s basically saying ‘you’re too young’ to read a certain novel. I mean, I can see that there’s a fine line between say, Harry Potter and a harlequin but otherwise it’s unfair to children who might be on a higher reading level than their peers. Just imagine sorcerer’s stone might be rated 7+ and then what is a 7 year old going to do when their parents see that order of the phoenix is 11+ when the kid gets to it?

Avatar Image says:

I agree that age bands shouldn’t be on books. I know a few people who will tease others if they read ‘children’s books’ (I am talking about 15 year olds) and having it printed on the cover will make the whole issue even worse. I for one enjoy reading both adult novels and young adult novels such as His Dark Materials or Harry Potter and I think these age bands could get people down about the books they want to read.

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I agree with jo! I really hate buying books that say like Ages 8-12 on the shelf! It’s so not right!

Avatar Image says:

Why not let parents decide which books are appropriate for their kids?

Avatar Image says:

Any idea how much that is in US dollars?

Avatar Image says:

Unlike video games or movies, books tend to have their own age limitations built in, which I think people outside of education wouldn’t recognize. Vocabulary is the biggest limitation – just because a child can decode a word doesn’t mean they understand it. Not until they have seen the word in context a few times would they understand the meaning. And with such limited life experiences, a 6 year old is just not going to be able to fully understand the deeper context in Pullman’s or even Rowling’s books. You can only take from a book an understanding at the level you can handle. A lot of kids that read Harry Potter, especially the books later in the series, at age 8 or 9 will go back and re-read them at 18 and find that there’s a whole different level to the books that they missed the first time. It’s one of the reasons why those books appeal to such a wide audience.

Avatar Image says:

I also agree with Jo regarding the age bands. I think it discourages kids from reading more difficult books because they may be intimidated by an age band that is marked for an age older than their own and could lead some parents to think that the material may be inappropriate for their child’s age when it really isn’t. I think it also discourages kids in that a child who doesn’t have “average” reading skills for their age group may decide to just not read at all rather than to risk being made fun of for reading a book marked for a younger age.

Avatar Image says:

I can see why Jo is against it; her books were written for children but have a massive adult following.

I also think that, whatever its original intentions, it is a step towards censorship and may prevent more children from branching out beyond their age range or experimenting, as well as discouraging people from reading perfectly good books because of a low age rating. This shows the modern tendency to stick everyone into the same narrow little pigeonholes, or even ‘nanny state’ syndrome. I know it’s not meant as more than a guide to parents but what happens when shopkeepers start to become afraid of selling higher age rated books to younger children in case their parents sue them? And how can a teenager progress onto adult books that are perfectly suitable for them? I for one was reading (or having books read to me) adult books from the age of 11-15, some of them at school even; ‘1984’ at age 14 for example.

Avatar Image says:

” a 6 year old is just not going to be able to fully understand the deeper context in Pullman’s or even Rowling’s books.”

i agree with kim on this point, in fact i know a few adults who don’t understand the deeper context of these books. which is why we should choose books based on the individual persons level of understanding, not there age.

Avatar Image says:

Age bands can only hold people back. It is up to the maturity and personal skill of the reader what they choose to read. In the case of Harry Potter, there has been much discrimination of age as it is called a children’s series, when the later books especially have material that will present itself in different ways once a person reaches adulthood. It is simple enough for a child or an older reader to decide whether they are of proper age to read a book. It is too individual a process to be held back by labels.

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As a parent, I completely agree with Jo and others on this. I think putting age bands on books would cause kids on levels to not read as much. Those kids who read on a lower level than their peers might stop reading. Parents of children who read on a higher level might not think the book is appropriate for their child if they were just going on that alone.

I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to choose their child’s book based on what is needed for that child. Age bands would only be a hindrance.

Avatar Image says:

The whole age banding thing just sounds like an incredible waste of time and resources to me. I mean honestly, you’re going to create an entire beauracracy just to say that a book is suitable for a 9-year-old but not a 7-year-old? Give me a break.

I say having them divided up between children’s/young adult/adult is good enough. And even that much is deceptive. Take movies for example. Some G-rated movies are great movies regardless of your age. Of course you wouldn’t want a 7-year-old reading an extremely adult novel, but a parent can stop that from happening, not an age band.

Age bands wouldn’t do a thing except confuse everyone and waste resources.

Avatar Image says:

I don’t quite see the age bands as such a big problem? Don’t most books often have an advised age on the back? Anyone can still buy it, can’t they?

Avatar Image says:

When I went to buy, say, ‘His Dark Materials’, I had to go to the children’s section as well…?

Avatar Image says:

robin777 has it right: the corporate world is pandering to ill-advised parents who think ratings of that nature are effective: they can take 2 seconds and glance at a little circle with a number in it to determine if it’s suitable.

How about they take 2 minutes and read the plot synopsis or a couple of reviews of the book and decide for themselves if their child is ready for that material?

It may be impractical for a parent to read in entirety every book that their child is interested in to determine age-appropriateness… but certainly reading a synopsis would be wise.

Avatar Image says:

I was told at age 4 years when I was already a reader that I could not get a library card. The age for library cards was 7 years. The bureaucracy (whether governmental or commercial) exists to keep us in our place. To sort us into manageable and convenient (for them) categories. I got my library card at age 5 by sitting in the library and reading books meant for 2nd and 3rd graders out loud to the local librarian.

Avatar Image says:

@ VeraIconica

Haha, you read out loud to the librarian, so he’d get annoyed and give you a card?

Avatar Image says:

These age bands are such a waste. i mean, i’m 14, and if i wanted to go back and read, oh say, a Star Wars book, and they are labled 9+, i might be discouraged from reading it, and i am a big Star Wars fan. also, i started reading at a young age, i read Sorceror’s Stone at about age 6, but i had been reading stuff since i was four when i could understand Video Game booklets (kinda sad, huh?) So i could read adult novels, but the age band would maybe discourage me from reading higher up books in fear that i might not even understand them. Im a 9th grader and read on a probably 11th or 12th grade level, so if my friends saw me with a 9+ or a 7+, i could get laughed at. this just would discourage kids from trying to challenge themselves to read higher level stuff to broaden their vocabulary. they would stay at theor age level, and may not be into reading as much as a kid who isnt exposed to the age bands. we need to push kids to read higher level books, not just stay average, us kids and teens have such a range of opportunities, and if we dont push ourselves, we arent going to get very far in life.

Avatar Image says:

I do have to mention that not only might the age bands deter a child from reading something above his or her age group, I see the bigger problem in that a child who does not enjoy reading and struggles with even less willing to read a book that is branded for a lower age group than the one which the child is actually a part of.

Don’t kids have enough labels on them already? Why make things that are difficult for a kid even worse by shoving it in his or her face that they are different?

Go, Jo! Hopefully her weight, combined with many other prolific authors, will show the publishing industry that this idea just isn’t a good one. Oh - and insofar as parents go - I’ve noticed that the parents who are truly concerned about what their children read, worry if it contains themes and ideas that they don’t want their children exposed to for whatever reasons, look to the back or inside cover for the recommended age range and what the book content contains. The parents who would rather have their kids read, regardless if it stars witches, wizards, talking animals, time travel, whatever, won’t care what the age bands say. Only the sanctimonious parents who don’t want to take the time to actually investigate what the book is about are likely to care. Why feed into that sort of stupidity?

Avatar Image says:

Of course children should read books that are age appropriate. But chronological age is not the best indicator of a child’s reading age. Age banding has the potential to do so much more harm than good, for readers of all ages and the publishing industry itself.

If you haven’t followed the link to the petition, I urge you to do so and consider adding your name to the list. It’s well thought out and well written and addresses all the points everyone here has made so well.

Pat

Avatar Image says:

If there were an age rating on books, I never would have read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Scarlet Letter,” or “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” like I did when I was in middle school. Some books have reccommended ages on the back but these bands make it seem liek it will be much more visible. It’s a waste of time and money. And what about people who read at a lower level? If it’s already a struggle to read, how discouraging must it be to pick up a book meant for grade 4 when you’re in grade 7?

Avatar Image says:

I think an age band on books is the worst idea ever. Mozart was able to play piano at age 3!! -Whose to say that a younger child can not understand certian concepts…Reading, in my opinion, is thought provoking and thus educational, why limit and discourage that???

Also, I think the people who should be concearned what a child is reading should be the parents. It’s their responosibilaty to know and understand what material their child/children are reading, not the book publishers!!

In previous centuries it was vital for young children (especially males) to graspe ideas earlier so as to better perpair themselves for life. Protect your child by helping them, teaching them not by limiting them to everything…it just becomes an exscuse for parents to walk away and if thats what they want to do maybe they shouldn’t of had kids~

Avatar Image says:

I had a whole rant worked out about this issue, but I will just bow to those of you who have already expressed the point so well and content myself with merely saying, “I agree!” Terrible, terrible idea.

Avatar Image says:

Here in the UK it’s accepted that, on top of everything else that’s wrong, it is a cynical commercial drive to move books off supermarket shelves fast, regardless of merit and without the shelf stacker having to know anything beyond the number printed on the cover.. But books aren’t shoes. They aren’t shirts. They have no sell-by date. Reading is, or should be, a unique reaction between the text and the reader, beyond the control even of the author.

Which is why authors have risen in implacable fury. The publishers don’t know what’s hit them, and are panicking and blustering. But we are not going to blink.

Avatar Image says:

“i agree with kim on this point, in fact i know a few adults who don’t understand the deeper context of these books. which is why we should choose books based on the individual persons level of understanding, not there age.”

I agree with this second part because what if the 6 year old is a gifted child and can read at that level. In elementary school we took a test and you were given a level and you could only read books in that level. It was horrible I read at a higher level and there wasn’t many books to chose from and some of the books I read were easier than the ones 2 or 3 levels below me.

Avatar Image says:

It sounds like a stupid idea. They shouldn’t restrict what you can read. However, some books should be kept for a certain age group if it has, say, adult stuffs in it. but thats up to the parents to decide, not the bookstore. These book label things would also be a waste of time, money and paper.

However, as I dont like books besides Harry Potter (yes they are the only thing i read, unless I absolutley have to for school, or its a really cool book,) it doesnt concern me as much as it concerns other people.

Avatar Image says:

I pre-ordered mine on Amazon-UK (I’m in the US).... Can’t wait :)

Avatar Image says:

Well, this age banding nonsense is an old problem. I’ve an old Dell Yearling trade paperback next to me that has written discreetly across the bottom RL:8.1 009-0014. This is meant to mean that the text of the book is at a Grade Eight reading level or a child between nine and fourteen.

Of course, these guidelines are not meant to restrain readers, but to guide parents, teachers, librarians and bookstore clerks. However, such guidelines ought to be discreet and not plastered across the front of a book or in some prominent place on the back.

Of course, Pullman is right. Children do not want to read books they think are too young for them and yet are frustrated if they have to struggle with a text. (I still think Beatrix Potter’s “Tale of Mr Tod” is a thrilling story for grown-ups.)

What is perhaps more useful though not so easily put on the cover of a book would be something like an iPod playlist. Booksellers and librarians do post lists of the “If You Like This…” sort, but that’s too narrow. What would be more interesting are the list that tells us “Readers who liked this also liked….” That tends to lead us into uncharted territory.

Needless to say, I find that phrase “Suitable for Ages N+” to be rather authoritarian. What does it mean? According to whom? Is it vocabulary and sentence structure being graded or content? Honestly, I find the MPAA movie ratings to be so idiosyncratic as to be useless.

Finally, I think we all need to get away from the prejudice that books of interest to children are only for children. Why grown-ups needed to buy “adult” editions of HP puzzles me. Still, people seem to judge others by the books in their hands, whether it’s HP or the Bible or The Audacity of Hope. I wish they’d simply ask if a book is a good read.

This post is a bit cranky, but generally harmless. 8+.

Avatar Image says:

Can you imagine JKR writes a book and it gets a “7+” rating, and her publisher comes back and tells her “Sorry JKR, we need you to add some more mature material so we can get an 11+ rating.” How riddikulus that would be, but it could happen.

I shudder to think of the countless reading experiences that would be missed by countless children as a result of this idea. (That’s probably the real reason the authors are against it. It would give too many children another reason NOT to read a book that might inspire a lifelong love of reading.)

Avatar Image says:

I was reading Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials in 4th and 5th Grade, and they were wonderful…

I know I would have missed out on them if we in the US had an age band around the Golden Compass saying it was too advanced for me :(

Avatar Image says:

Seems like most parents agree that this “age banding” isn’t necessary or advisable.

Being a mother of two college-educated voracious readers and grandmother of five boys, I’ve always found that children can pick out books right for their own age and reading levels. The reasons given by previous posters include mine as well, but one thing that will prevent a kid from reading a book that’s too old for him/her is the size of the typeface. “The words are too small,” gets a book back on the library shelf faster than anything else.

I read books outside my “reading level” when I was in elementary and middle school; I got out of them what an elementary or middle schooler was capable of understanding. As an adult, these books have entirely new meaning for me, but I don’t think they were “inappropriate” at an earlier age, because I couldn’t understand the “inappropriate” material and basically skipped it and read the parts that made sense to me at the time.

Also, in college I spent one summer reading all the classic “children’s literature” that I’d missed as a child. People assumed I was reading it for a class, but I told them I just wanted to familiarize myself with the books. I suppose age banding might make some people hesitate to read these books and that would be a shame indeed.

As so many Harry Potter fans have been saying for years, “Any book that gets kids reading is a good thing.” And thank you, JKR, for all you have done toward that goal.

Avatar Image says:

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Avatar Image says:

these age bands arent goin to help…...anybody what good are they going to do?

Avatar Image says:

I live in Spain, and here some editorials use different colors in the cover of their children books in order to indicate the most suitable age for reading them. The grading is based in the difficulty of the vocabulary included in them, more than in the content. Each editorial uses the grading they want, I mean, some use first readers, 7+, 9+ and 12+, others use every age (5+, 6+,... until 14+), etc, and others simply don’t use grading at all. For example, the Harry Potter books are not rated. Anyway, it’s quite easy to guess the age group a book is aimed for whith a mere glance: the illustration in the cover, the illustratios inside the book (if there are any), the size of the letters and even the title will tell you quite quickly. In fact, those were the things I would consider when choosing a book when I was a child, much more than the possible grading on it. I guess it is more directed to guide parents and teachers than to guide children.

When I was little, I used to go to the library almost every week to get more books. I devoured them! When I was 8 years old, I had already read most of the 7+ books they had in the library, so I would read 9+ books, and I was sooooooo proud! I felt more mature and intelligent. I remember going to my parents bedroom to ask them the meaning of a word every two minutes, or looking the words up in the dictionary when they were tired of me, but I didn’t care. However, I admit I never dared to read a 12+ book until I was 10, and I didn’t read many of them until I was 11.

The grading never prevented me from reading, as I just thought “I’m not old enough to read this book yet, I will read it next year”. When I was 8, I read one of the books of “The Little Vampire”, which wasn’t rated, and I had to stop reading it because I was having nighmares. Three years after that, I read another book of that series, and I simply loved it, and couldn’t undestand why I had been afraid of it. The book was a newer edition, and it was rated 10+.

So, I don’t think that age banding is such a terrible idea, provided that it is well done. Besides, I have never noticed the discrimination you mention, as children usually read at home, where there aren’t other children present to tease them.

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Indeed, Mrs. Rowling.You should fight against “Movie Age Banding”, too. Children love horror movies and pornos. To ban them for younger ages are against human in general and especially children rights.

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Either way this age thing is a bad idea but what’s the context? Censorship or marketing?

It’s a pretty stupid marketing move to restrict your target markets so I’m going to assume it’s censorship. Did that Mallory moron actually get something (useless) done?

I think it’s funny puritan blowhards still worry about books. I thought their whole big satan of late was video games. Why are they backpedaling and did I miss their whole revival of hatred towards D&D, rap, comic books, heavy metal, and jazz? I guess they just have to go after whatever it is that’s entertaining the youth of the day.

Avatar Image says:

Age banding is definitely a bad idea. I was a “gifted child” and read much higher level material in elementary school than my peers. In first grade (age 5/6) I was reading books considered appropriate for 4th graders (age 8/9). Age banding probably would have prevented that because a teacher or librarian wouldn’t have let me read them. An okay idea would be saying that a book has “explicit content” or “strong language”, which would be far more helpful than age bands. Otherwise, I completely agree with Jo and the other authors who signed the petition.

Avatar Image says:

On the other hand…if you are an adult buying a book as a gift for a child, it’s nice to know what the reading level of the book in question is. Nobody wants to buy a gift that the recipient can’t enjoy, either because the book is at a level that’s too challenging or too simplistic. So a note that lets the potential buyer know what the intended reading level of the book is would really be helpful.

Avatar Image says:

I think its crap if they out a age on the books :-O Its saying ‘youre too youn’ or ‘youre too old’ to read this book! Id hate to see a good book ad then the age says im too young or too old :-O Plus, the philosophers stone would proborbaly be a lower age at the ones that followed, and chuldren have been reading them for years, so if they go into a shop to buy, say, the deathly hallows, and it says 9+ and there only 7 there parents might think its too old for them! I think it should be the parents choice to decide that, read the blurb and decide, not Penguin or watever :-O

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