A recent article has me wondering if we should be taking a closer look at what we qualify as “children’s books.”
A recent article said that a bookstore in Shanghai is pulling the children’s book “Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore’ after a rash of suicides by children and teens.
I had mixed emotions when I read this article. In general, I’m against book banning. Authors should be free to express their opinions.
And I don’t really believe that a normal, healthy kid read this book and then suddenly wanted to commit suicide. I’m not even sure it even really gives a kid ideas for how to commit suicide since some of these illustrations are unrealistic — head in a DVD player for instance.
But what I am wondering is how this book got classified as a children’s book. It’s definitely not age appropriate for young kids.
Suicide is a very sensitive subject that kids – and many adults, myself included – don’t entirely understand. I can understand why there might be a book in the children’s section explaining to a child how to deal with it when a friend, family member or other loved one commits suicide.
But why would a book mocking suicide be considered a children’s book? Because it has cute little bunnies in it? If that’s the qualification, then we really need to look at how a book gets classified as a children’s book.
I recently read The Golden Compass. When I went to buy the book, I found it in the children’s section. Sure the story deals with the adventure of a little girl, but the book itself is a fantasy that deals with some pretty dark themes.
While I wouldn’t call the book scary, I did have some very gloomy dreams when I read it. And I wondered how it would affect a young reader.
After reading this book, I wouldn’t let my child read this book until they were well into their teens. How did this book get classified in the children’s section?
So my question is do we need to be more diligently in accurately classifying books (i.e just because it had cute little bunnies in it doesn’t mean it’s meant for children) or do we need to take it a step further? Do we need a rating system (like we have for movies, video games, music) for children’s books?