Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Gil

How do you preview books for content?

Recommended Posts

Is there a website like Common Sense Media but just for books that is comprehensive? (I know that Common Sense Media has a book section, but it's not big enough.). I don't let my kids watch PG13 movies and even use CSM for PG movies because I am picky about what films/shows they do get to see (we don't have cable and the DVD player/computer is kept in a central part of the house so it's not hard to monitor what they watch.) because I don't want them consuming gobs and gobs of senseless violence or la-la-land sexual content. I also don't value crude humor so some PG movies get vetoed too.

This year I've halted my kid reading more than a few books that are popular but definitely NOT kid stuff. He wasn't sneaking to read them--I simply didn't know the books/wasn't noticing them. I've told him he can't get fiction of any kind from the adult section any more. I've told him that I'll have to preview adult autobiographies/biographies on a case-by-case basis.

I love that he's a reader and willing to tackle any book, but definitely am not willing to permit him to read ANYthing that he puts his hands on. I do not have the time to pre-read every thing. He reads way faster than I can and has ten times more free time, than I do.

Is there a website or an app that I can use to get a snapshot of a books content?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To my knowledge there is not one.  But Wikipedia has summaries of many many books that might give you a place to start.  If he sticks to the books in the children’s section, the books are more likely to be appropriate.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes Wikipedia will provide enough info.  Sometimes it won’t. 

I often go to Amazon and read the reviews of books.  I tend to get a sense of what kind of story it is from the reviews.  It’s not the best way, but it’s another tool to use if you can’t pre-read the book for yourself.

Be aware that the young adult section includes adults into their twenties.  Young adult isn’t a euphemism for teenagers.  It means what it says: young ADULT. 

So, stick with the children’s section.  Read the covers of the books to get the general gist of the story.  Try wikipedia and amazon reviews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JenneinCA said:

To my knowledge there is not one.  But Wikipedia has summaries of many many books that might give you a place to start.  If he sticks to the books in the children’s section, the books are more likely to be appropriate.  

Crud, that's what I was afraid of.

I've been using a combo of Amazon, Google Books and Wikipedia to get an idea of what is in various books. But I was hoping there was something out there that could save me some time. I really wish books had ratings like movies and music.

So, is there a list of books for adults that's "safe" for voracious young readers?

He wants to read "big" books and likes read pretty much everything from autobiography and memoir to historical books, fantasy and personal growth books. He says he's read all of the books recommended by local schools for 7th-12th grades (our library compiles a list for each grade, every year and he's read all the recommendations for the last few years.)

We live near a smaller branch library, so the selections a lot more limited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What are you concerned about him reading?

Is the violence in The Iliad or The Odyssey a problem?  Or is that okay?

Are relationships between people a problem?  Or can characters have romantic times but not graphically?

I imagine swearing is an issue, but is it just the current swear words in the US?  Or is a character saying a swear word in their setting a problem too? 

Sorry for all the questions, I am trying to figure out what is okay and what is not.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How old is he and how persistent in his love of books? At about 8th grade when I wanted to read adult books exclusively, (I had outgrown children’s books) my mother only let me read the classics.  I loved reading so much that I was fine with that.  For the next 5 or 6 years, I read Dickens and Eyre and the Bronte sisters, etc.  

There are certainly adult themes in the classics, but they’re not as graphic and in your face as in modern adult novels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has he finished the Mensa Excellence in Reading lists?

It kinda worked out that certain authors were off limits here and a lot of sci fi & classic were read.  Several parents demanded and won classical options at the school, due to the contemporary YA being graphically sexually inappropriate and in some cases quite racist.  "clean reads" is the phrasing people use.  

To answer your question, I skim in advance if I don't know the book.

If you need a quick suggestion: Charles Dickens, King James Bible, Agatha Christie, Zane Grey, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Scott Westerfield's Uglies series, Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion, John Christopher Tripod Trilogy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.  Make the first pass at Shakespeare.

when you have time to read with him, consider Day of the Triffids. Lots of good stuff to talk about there, still relevant to our time and to his age/stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There IS a list . . .but I can't remember the name of it right off the top of my head.  There is a blogger who sells this long, annotated list to help parents navigate this issue, she updates it yearly, and sells it cheaply-like $5 the first time and updates are $1...I can't find it tonight. I am sorry--

is this ringing a bell with anyone else? 

Until that mystery is solved, there is: Honey for a Child's Heart, and maybe in your situation: Honey for a Teen's Heart

http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html  This takes you to the page at CCH where you choose the grade range for the 1000 good books lists.  

Also, Ambleside Online books-- a lot of the actual scheduled curriculum books might not be something he picked up for pleasure reading, but the Free Read lists in each year would be a gold mine for you.  Those are the ones more accessible at the libraries, for example. Of course, he MIGHT take a look at some of the scheduled books. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no idea how comprehensive they are, but would Plugged In or Redeemed Reader offer what you're looking for? I know you didn't ask for religious resources, but these are the sites I've come across that review books thoroughly for sexual content and violence. (This suggestion should not be taken as my endorsement of all of their rating criteria. I'd love to find a more progressive site that does this, because many of us who are fine with our kids reading about diverse kinds of families and belief systems share your view, OP, that our young but advanced readers should not be encountering some difficult and challenging topics without some degree of parental guidance or oversight. But at least reviews that provide heaps of information allow us to make those choices.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, JenneinCA said:

What are you concerned about him reading? Based on their personalities; senseless, graphic or other wise just plain gratuitous violence and/or sex are not good ideas for my kid. Neither is reading books about a depressed and oppressed hero/heroine who never catches a break.
Is the violence in The Iliad or The Odyssey a problem?  Or is that okay? I have never read either of those and would have no idea.
Are relationships between people a problem?  Or can characters have romantic times but not graphically? I don't want him reading books featuring (or worse based on) UNHEALTHY or out right ABUSIVE sexual relationships.
I imagine swearing is an issue, but is it just the current swear words in the US?  Or is a character saying a swear word in their setting a problem too?
Swearing isn't that big of an issue.

Sorry for all the questions, no problem, I am trying to figure out what is okay and what is not. Me too.
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Garga said:

How old is he and how persistent in his love of books? He is in the 5th grade, 11 years old and he reads about 1200 pages a week. More when there is less school/no sports practice and he has enough books. He's a fiction buff-I try and encourage as much nonfiction as possible too, but he likes stories and narratives. At about 8th grade when I wanted to read adult books exclusively, (I had outgrown children’s books) my mother only let me read the classics.  I loved reading so much that I was fine with that.  For the next 5 or 6 years, I read Dickens and Eyre and the Bronte sisters, etc.  

There are certainly adult themes in the classics, but they’re not as graphic and in your face as in modern adult novels.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DS has been reading a lot of Tolkien lately (not LOTR because it's too creepy right now). There are several shorter books/short stories that are really funny.

And things vetted by me already because I happened to have read them myself. 

Like you, Gil, I have specific things I can't really allow for DS, or can not allow in large amounts, and he's been reading adult level books for a few years now (he's ten), so the rubber is really hitting the road. He's very sensitive to some things, and I just abhor some other things. I don't mind cussing or battle-type violence in context, but some guy smacking his girlfriend isn't going to fly. And I don't want sexual violence myself, much less my pre-teen kids!

It can get really aggravating reading reviews forever trying to get a feel for things! There's just no super great solution yet because a lot of people don't even register the stuff I am trying to keep out of our heads. 

 

I think the list someone is referring to upthread is the Good and The Beautiful booklist, but that thing is worthless to me because the things the author of it cares about, I don't. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frustratingly enough almost all of the book rating websites that I've been able to find are both too limited and very biased toward Christian values. I really wish that books had ratings given by a ratings board like movies.

27 minutes ago, OKBud said:

DS has been reading a lot of Tolkien lately (not LOTR because it's too creepy right now). There are several shorter books/short stories that are really funny. Thanks, I'll share the lists with him.

And things vetted by me already because I happened to have read them myself. See I wasn't a reader when I was a kid, and I'm still not much of a reader. So the number of books I've already read is VERY low compared to what he's already read/reading.

Like you, Gil, I have specific things I can't really allow for DS, or can not allow in large amounts, and he's been reading adult level books for a few years now (he's ten), so the rubber is really hitting the road. He's very sensitive to some things, and I just abhor some other things. I don't mind cussing or battle-type violence in context, but some guy smacking his girlfriend isn't going to fly. Or stalking her and it being presented as "romantic" and "swoon-worthy".  Really? No son, I promise you that following and "studying" a woman or breaking into a womans house and watching her is FAR more likely to get you locked up and on a registry than it is to get you her affection. That behavior only goes un-prosecuted in these ridiculous books. Ask a woman out if you want to, but if she says "no" then accept it and move on.

And I don't want sexual violence myself, much less my pre-teen kids! I don't suppose you've kept a list of books your kid has read or made a list of books that he will read? We seem to have a similar situation.

I've got a 10 year old who reads like his brother but is definitely more of a fantasy and adventure fiend. My 11 year old will read almost anything on paper--the one genre that he avoids is Horror.

It can get really aggravating reading reviews forever trying to get a feel for things! There's just no super great solution yet because a lot of people don't even register the stuff I am trying to keep out of our heads. Yup. That's been my experience too.

I think the list someone is referring to upthread is the Good and The Beautiful booklist, but that thing is worthless to me because the things the author of it cares about, I don't.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Gil said:

Frustratingly enough almost all of the book rating websites that I've been able to find are both too limited and very biased toward Christian values. I really wish that books had ratings given by a ratings board like movies.

 

 

50 minutes ago, Gil said:

Frustratingly enough almost all of the book rating websites that I've been able to find are both too limited and very biased toward Christian values. I really wish that books had ratings given by a ratings board like movies.

 

 

^^ I accidentally hit quote and now I can not get those boxes to go away, even if I leave the page and open this with a new tab. My bad :)

This is a partial list... It's only what he read during "school time," the mandatory reading time they have five-six days a week. Off the top of my head I know that in his free time he read most of the Redwall books (these are really good!) and most of the Warriors (cats) books too. It's all mixed up with what his brother has read since August (or that I have read aloud to him) too though, so it's probably not very helpful. Anne of Green Gables and Avonlea, along with the first three "Little Women" books were surprise hits! He went on about them enough that his little brother (8 y/o at the time) asked to listen to them on audiobook. He liked them too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ask the Hive?!?  

Since there doesn't seem to be something that is available on-the-fly, perhaps you need to take a slightly different tactic.  Ahead of time, cull the Hive's archives for book suggestions, put it on a spreadsheet, and just let your kids have free reign with any book on that list.  Just make sure that list is humongous or continually growing.  Here's one booklist from the hive that has stuck in my memory.

 

I agree that Common Sense Media has a really small selection of reviews for books - so much that I'm about ready to delete the app since it never has what I'm looking for.

Kudos to your kid for not being afraid of taking on adult books!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the amazon reviews.  To make it quicker I use the search function within the reviews.  So, for example, you could search “abuse.”  I won’t type out other possibilities, but I imagine you get the idea.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find book lists on Pinterest. There's tons of them and they usually have a little blurb about them. Search for book lists 3rd grade boy for example and you'll get tons. Mostly put together by homeschool mom's or libarians. A blog called "What do we do all day" has particularly good lists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven't read the responses, but you might look into getting some older Reader's Digest Condensed books for him.  I haven't read many newer than 2000, but up until then, to the best of my recollection they tended to be very clean and very well edited.  I often see them at garage sales, or you could probably find lots of them cheap on ebay.

 

ETA: I realize this doesn't answer the question of how to preview books, but might give you a wide variety of books for him to read that don't need to be previewed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been falling back on just opening the book and skimming a few pages :/ I don't think it will work for long.

DS is still on easy chapter books like Magic Tree House, but he gravitates towards graphic novels. Those are the tougher ones for me right now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Dust said:

I've been falling back on just opening the book and skimming a few pages :/ I don't think it will work for long.

DS is still on easy chapter books like Magic Tree House, but he gravitates towards graphic novels. Those are the tougher ones for me right now. 

This is what I do. I read the summary, a random paragraph from the beginning, middle, and end. It’s not perfect but at least I get an idea of content. I also skim Goodread or Amazon reviews. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried Goodreads.com?  You can search by book title or look for lists of recommended books ie. Clean teen books, popular adult clean reads, etc.  Each book has a short summary.

For what it is worth, I struggle with the same type of thing with my 9 year old who reads 400 - 600 pages on a typical day.  Reading is her favorite past time.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember going through an Agatha Christie phase when I was around that age. Sherlock Holmes would be good too. 

Has he read any David McCullough books? They're long, meaty and interesting. Loved "The Wright Brothers". "The Boys on the Boa t" is another good book I've read recently that may appeal to him. I have "Hidden Figures" and "Elon Musk - Quest for a Fantastic Future" in DS's list to read next year. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know exactly what you mean. I need this website too. I usually stick to classics because I either know them or they're from an era that was just less likely to include disturbing sexual content. My go-to method for reviewing a book is to read the amazon and goodreads reviews, skim the table of contents and from there pretty much try to guess what the issues of a particular book might be and try sniff out if it is.

One genre that has been particularly good for us has been homesteader biographies. The libraries are usually full of them and for the most part they're clean.

Maybe if all us WTM readers collaborated we could make some good additions to goodreads.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...