You may have noticed that I rarely mention what age group a book is “appropriate for.” There are a couple of reasons for this; two sides of the same coin, actually.
I believe that a good book – one that is well written, one that tells a captivating story, one that points to truth – is as good for a forty-year-old as for a twelve-year-old; and conversely, a good book for a ten-year-old still has something to say to a sixty-year-old. Of course, I am not advocating completely indiscriminate reading of all books by all people able to read. I do occasionally note that the subject matter of certain titles is better suited for mature readers – but I am not in a position to declare any particular numerical age “mature enough.” It is the responsibility of the parent, grandparent, teacher, guardian to make that determination in regard to his child.
On the other hand, a book that is not good enough – one that is poorly written, one that is only cheaply amusing – for a thirty-year-old is not good enough for a thirteen-year-old either. Too often that which is considered unfit for adults is relegated to the playroom – “the kids don’t appreciate good furniture anyway” – or shoved back into the refrigerator so as not to be wasted – “they’ll eat anything, even three-day old cold pizza.” And therein lies the problem. They will make do with whatever is available; they will ingest anything within reach when they’re hungry. Again, it is our responsibility, as parents and teachers and guardians to provide the children with high-quality, nourishing fare, to guide them in developing good taste and wholesome habits.