Age Appropriate Reading

Recently I was in Barnes and Nobles looking for some Christmas gifts and overheard a conversation between a B&N worker and a young girl and her mom. The young girl was looking to move from middle grade to YA. To me that would be such an exciting moment in a readers life. Finally being old enough to move up a level. The only problem I saw was that the B&N worker was recommending books that were written and geared to a 17 year old. I for one skipped the point in my reading life where I slowly moved up levels. My mom thought that reading was reading and didn’t understand that like movies there are appropriate books for different age groups. I was plagued by nightmares from Cujo when in sixth grade because it was not an appropriate book for someone so young. This B&N worker was recommending an Ellen Hopkins book called Crank. While a great book that shows a side of life that does happen I feel that it is to mature for a young girl who just weeks ago was reading lighter material. I’m not saying that middle grade novels cannot touch on heavy subjects but that they do it in a way that our young readers understand and that won’t leave them with questions beyond their maturity. I’m not one to butt into other peoples conversation often but this time I felt that maybe as someone older and who has read the book that was recommended maybe I could give insight. So after the worker walked off I mentioned to the mother that she should do some research because the book she may buy was very mature. She thanked me and we left it at that.

So I ask this, just because it is young adult geared between ages 13-17 does that mean all books are for the entire age range?

Why do middle grade novels have age ratings showing parents who the book is appropriate for but YA is just a general grouping?

I understand that all readers are at different maturity levels. One thirteen year old can be ready for a more mature level than another. But as a whole most thirteen year old aren’t ready to read about drug abuse, physical abuse by a spouse, or heavy sex. I know at that age I was ignorant on those subjects.

When a bookstore worker is recommending a book to a young child shouldn’t they ask questions before handing over a book with explicit details of drug usage and abuse?

Maybe my thinking is skewed because I wish there was someone there for me when I was exploring new age groups so I didn’t have to go through weeks of nightmares and more questions than answers.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Am I thinking to much into it?

Thank for reading!