Recent Book Bans Fuel Demand for a New Method of Selecting and Classifying Books

( — As states are enacting policies prohibiting age-inappropriate books in school libraries, some officials and librarians are struggling to find a way to determine what books should remain on the shelves, NPR reported.

According to NPR, the process for classifying books tends to be inconsistent, with authors and publishers initially determining an age recommendation. This is typically followed by book reviewers, distributors, and booksellers making their own age recommendations for titles. Ultimately, however, it has been librarians who make the final call.

Idaho parent Carolyn Harrison, co-founder of the group Parents Against Bad Books, wants to add another layer to the process by allowing parents to be involved in deciding what books are appropriate for what ages.

Harrison told NPR that leaving it up to “experts” to decide “makes no sense” since parents “are the primary stakeholders for children.”

A proposal from Lewis County, Washington, would require introducing a rating system for library books that is similar to the one used for movies.

According to Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope, who introduced the proposal, a rating system for books is not unreasonable. Instead, Swope said it would be a tool parents can use to determine whether a book is appropriate for their child, adding that once innocence is gone, “it’s gone.”

Opponents of Swope’s proposal argue that the rating categories are too subjective. They pointed out that similar ratings are already available for parents on multiple websites, including the website BookLooks, which was launched by a member of the conservative group Moms for Liberty.

Additionally, Common Sense Media, a website run by a nonprofit advocacy group, provides ratings for video games, movies, television shows, books, and more.

Opponents argue that allowing the government to impose a rating system on books would be unconstitutional, while the ratings provided by privately operated websites are not.

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