Key to reviews
Instead of coming up with my own rating system, I decided to use a modified version of the MPAA ratings. My reviewers and I rate each book in three different categories: Language, Violence and Mature Content. This is what I tell my student reviewers when I explain the different ratings to them (oh yes, this is an interesting discussion – I handle it very carefully!) :
G – 1,2 swears, as long as they are not used in a sexual manner and are not the “F” word.
PG – 3 to 15 swears, as long as they are not used in a sexual manner and are not the “F” word.
PG-13 – 16-30 swears, as long as they are not used in a sexual manner and are not the “F” word.
R – “F” word and swears used in a sexual manner.
G – No violence; might contain pushing, yelling
PG – slaps, some hits – cartoon like; implied violence okay
PG-13 – prolonged violence, little blood, implied sexual violence
R – described violence, dismemberment, blood-soaked, sexual violence on page
Pre – K – Best for our littlest friends who are not yet in school; usually picture books and board books
EL (K-3) – still picture books for a young crowd – these would be great to read aloud; also includes early reader books and easier chapter books
EL – Upper elementary aged – Chapter books and longer novels (grades 4, 5, 6)
MS – of interest for Middle School ages (grades 7, 8, 9)
HS – most appropriate High School age students (grades 10, 11, 12); older characters and mature themes
GIFT – these are great items for gift0giving at birthdays or holidays. Usually these are not something that would wear well in libraries
ESSENTIAL – every library of the appropriate level should have this book on their shelves. These are your first priority for purchasing no matter how small or large your budget is.
ADVISABLE – Second tier library books. I still like them, but only buy them after you have stocked up on ESSENTIALs and if your budget can handle them.
OPTIONAL – Last tier of books to buy. Get these if you have a large budget or if you can find them in paperback. Even use your Book Fair profits and get them for “free”. Don’t buy them if your budget is very small.
PUBLIC ONLY – These are usually books aimed at HIGH SCHOOL students, but the mature content, language or violence usually would restrict how many school libraries would be willing to promote them. These books are still worth reading.
NOT RECOMMENDED – Usually a book is here because it has described sex, excessive swearing, is poorly written, or for whatever reason I just don’t feel like I can recommend it for a school library.