How do you determine whether a book is appropriate for kids to read?

How do you determine whether a book is appropriate for kids to read?

What is one way to determine whether a book is appropriate for kids to read?

Here is what 7 thought-leaders had to say:

  • Read Reviews
  • Know if the Kids Are Mature Enough
  • Will It Make a Child Grow Up Too Quickly?
  • Vocabulary Levels
  • Appropriate Books for Kids to Read
  • Once a Man and Twice a Child
  • Read It Yourself First!

Read Reviews

Book reviews can attest to the book’s quality as evaluated by different types of readers. Seeking reviews of critics representing similar parenting approaches or religious views can be a quick way to validate the choice. It can also provide the substance to back up the claim in front of an avid reader in case the book is deemed unsuitable.

Michael Sena, SENACEA

Know if the Kids Are Mature Enough

The most important method to determine whether a book is appropriate for a kid to read is to simply know, or ask, if the kid is mature enough to be reading its contents. Most adults tend to forget that while most children are very immature and goofy, they can still be very understanding, curious, and knowledgeable in certain subjects adults wouldn’t think would be appropriate at that age. Regardless if its advanced mathematics, chemistry, race, sex, or even death, some kids will take the subject quite well and understand its causes better than others. Any adult or young adult should know their child, brother, sister, relative, or even close friends enough to recommend a certain book or not based on the kid’s maturity. However, if you are in a situation where you don’t know the kid trying to read or ask about a certain touchy subject book, make sure to ask them how old they are and if THEY think they are old enough to be reading said book.

James Burati, 1-800-PackRat

Will It Make a Child Grow Up Too Quickly?

Deciding which books children should read can be a tricky subject. However, one way to make a decision on what is and isn’t appropriate can depend on their current age and environment.  It’s a fact that some kids may grow up faster than others, and can understand things of a more mature level. With others, you don’t want to make children grow up too quickly. However, as a good rule, if a book delves into situations that you think a child wouldn’t understand or could make them uncomfortable, then it’s best to avoid it.

Lindsay McCormick, Bite

Vocabulary Levels

Looking at the vocabulary instruction and levels will give great insight into if a book is appropriate for a child to read. If a kid is a strong reader, they will need higher levels of vocabulary from a book. Seeking advice from a teacher will also help find the appropriate books for a child, try not to look too much into popular books especially if your child is not ready for that type of vocab.

Michael Jankie, Natural Patch

Appropriate Books for Kids to Read

Determining if a book is age-appropriate for your child can be as simple as looking at the reading level printed on the book’s back cover, but this rule of thumb may differ for more advanced readers. If you aren’t clear if it is appropriate for your child to read a select title, you and your child should focus on why the book is being chosen, if the book sparks their interest, if they understand and summarize the text, and their general vocabulary knowledge. These questions can be a great starting point to determine the book’s appropriateness and if you are still unsure then read the book together.

Adam Shlomi, SoFlo Tutors

Once a Man and Twice a Child

Gauging whether a book is appropriate for children can be really difficult, and more often than not, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s sort of a gray area and depends on the individual child. However, one good rule of thumb is what your grandmother would think of the book. Seriously. What would a respected elder in their late 80’s think of the book? Would they think that it’s too crude, or senseless, or expounds poor values? When thinking of how your grandmother would react to the book, if your gut reaction is that she wouldn’t like it, then pass on it. This is a good litmus test for the relevancy and appropriateness of a good book because of grandmothers’ sweet nature and good intentions. It also forces you to rely on your gut instinct, which is usually right. Plus, as Bob Marley once said, you’re “once a man and twice a child,” so let your adult child be your guide.

John Ross, Test Prep Insight

Read It Yourself First!

At first glance, this may sound like a watered-down solution but when it comes to children, every tiny detail matters. And this is why it is essential to know if a book is indeed suitable for a child’s mind. Every factor, ranging from the child’s past and present life, any nuances in the book that may trigger troubling memories, or just about any mention that may disturb the child, plays an important role. Therefore, the best way to determine if a book is appropriate for a child is to read it yourself so that there is always a grownup to guide the child through the experience the book offers.

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Aspiring Families

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at to answer questions and get published.