Guest Post

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Books for Young Readers: Stephanie Lawton

Stephanie Lawton is our guest blogger today. Stephanie's YA novel, Want was just published, and we welcome her to Lyrical Pens. Stephanie is the Vice President of Mobile Writers Guild. Below is the first of her two part series to assist parents/grandparents choose appropriate reading material for their children.

Amid all the recent arguments that Young Adult lit is too “dark,” there’s an issue going unaddressed: Readers and parents/grandparents of readers who want “clean” titles don’t know where to find them.

No matter where you stand on the issue, every reader deserves access to books with which they’re comfortable. Publishers label titles with age ranges, but often, children read above their age or grade level. (Didn’t we all read Flowers in the Attic way before we should have?!) In order to keep them interested in reading and help expand their repertoire, they need further information about book content.
Thanks to the plethora of book blogs and rating/review websites, there’s no need to Muppet flail in the bookstore.

I’m extremely partial to, the top education-based book blog. (Full disclosure—I’m a contributor.) Although it focuses on YA lit, there’s a good bit of Middle Grade content, as well. In fact, we just finished Middle Grade March, ( which featured the best new titles hitting store shelves, and their digital equivalents.

The reviews usually give a synopsis, a few subjective comments and a note about what audience the book would appeal to. Further MG reviews can be found here. (

Although there’s been a bit of controversy surrounding this next group’s reviews, Common Sense Media is known for being a thorough source of content reviews, not just for books, but movies, video games, TV shows, etc. ( Books are judged on age-appropriateness, learning ratings (whether or not it’s educational), as well as its message, role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism and drugs/drinking/smoking.

While the author part of me thinks this is very subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt, the mom in me appreciates the heads up. At the very least, it tells me whether or not I need to take a look before deciding if my child is ready for the content.

Although I don’t support censorship—blanket decisions about what others can and can’t read—I fully support parents’ rights to monitor what their own children read. No one knows a child better than his or her parent/grandparent. I hope the above sources prove helpful to those in charge of shaping young minds.

(If readers want to contact me about this, I can be reached on Twitter at @Steph_Lawton, on Facebook at!/StephanieLawtonWriter or at

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her insights and these helpful resources.


1 comment:

  1. I recently came across another site that offers "clean reads":


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