An Open Letter...

Dear Parent,

Christmas is upon us and there will be lots and lots of lovely books being released over the next month. Authors will hope you purchase these stories for your friends and family… and your children.

This is what I want to talk about today. Your children and the books you give them. All of this comes about because of a review I wrote three and a half years ago, a review a parent read, but I don’t think he read the full review.

First of all, he purchased the book for his eight and nine year old children. He admitted he “rewrote” the ending of the book, so his children weren’t offended, scared, or whatever. Okay, here are my first big problems with his message.

One: this author wrote a book and properly categorized it as young adult and science fiction and fantasy/fantasy/sword and sorcery. These categories should have screamed at the parent that the book was inappropriate for children who are eight and nine.

Why is the first question some people would ask.

Because young adult books now approach subjects such as death and elements of sword and sorcery in the same way books written for adults are done. Teens today are more aware of their world. They watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, following both shows with a zeal once shown for family favorites such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons. In other words, if you are looking for a book for your younger child, stay away from young adult fiction and check out juvenile fiction, where the stories are geared for those ages.

My second reason for finding this person’s irate response to my review off is that he rewrote the ending, changing the storyline so significantly as to be unrecognizable by its author.

Here is my message to this individual. I’m sorry you were offended by this story and its contents but I am not apologizing in any way for you being offended. Why? Because if you had fully read my review, you would have seen the disclaimer that this book was not appropriate for anyone who is not a mature thirteen. Yes, that statement is in the review and has been there since I wrote it. In other words, the second you indicated you let your eight and nine year old hear this story after you doctored it to fit what you thought was right you were in the wrong.

You, sir, violated a copyright when you did that, and you indicated you planned to do so in the future, if your children wanted to hear book two, in order to continue your fiction with them.

That is wrong. You have not only violated a copyright, you chose to vilify an author for their work publicly even though you ignored the warning that the book was inappropriate for your children. Perhaps instead of taking your anger out on the author, you should examine your own motives. You decided a book that starts “cats and dogs living together” was right for younger children and ignored the warnings it was for teens and older. That was your choice, a wrong one, and you should have owned up to that.

My message to all parents this holiday season is this…

Authors, myself and many others, want nothing more than to entertain your child. Those of us who write for children, from babies through teens, work very hard to fit our book to a certain age group. We study what is appropriate for that age and ensure that anyone purchasing the book knows what lies beyond the cover. Please don’t blame us for a mistake you made in sharing a book with dark subjects meant for teens with a younger child.

When you are looking for books, ask around. You can even contact an author and say you’re interested in purchasing their book for their child. Most of us have websites and fan pages on Facebook. We are more than willing to discuss your choices with you. If we feel our books will be too mature for your child, we won’t hesitate to tell you that. But, please, don’t ignore those warnings and then attack us for writing an inappropriate book, when in fact, the mistake was yours.

One other thing. Authors literally sweat out those books. They become part of our lives while we are writing them. We can quote sections without having to look at the pages. In many ways, these books are also our children, as much as the ones we’ve raised are. To have someone admit they have not only rewritten parts of our books and will continue to do so with others in a series hurts as much as if you had literally struck us.

Oh, and if you ask for a recommendation for an age appropriate book, we might know of someone who has written one well for your child. Or we might suggest that you speak with your local librarian, who will be more than willing to talk to you about what’s new and exciting for children the same age as yours. There are many resources available to the parent seeking reading material for their child. You only have to ask. 


Cyn Ley said…
Excellent post. Thank you. :-)

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