I’m actually ashamed to admit that I’m just beginning the series! But, I hope to have it finished before the movie comes out. My answer might not be as well-rounded since I haven’t experienced the violence within yet, but I hope that I can provide a little insight to the age-old question of when kids should be allowed to read or watch certain things.
When I read that question, the first thought I had was, when should children be allowed to read Shakespeare? Romeo and Juliet’s read as young as Intermediate School, but it has so many sexual innuendos and violence as well for such a young age.
I don’t believe in censorship in reading either. I think that with reading comes knowledge and wisdom, no matter what you read. At a young age, this might not be comprehended, but I think we give children too little credit. When they’re able to read and understand what they’re reading, I believe that they reach a stage that they realize that what they’re reading is fictional—it’s imagined. Although I love working with my imagination, what the media provides us with visually is more realistic than what we can come up with on the spot while reading. How many times have our children sat by our side in front of the TV when a commercial for a violent action or horror film came on? How many times have we brought our young children to the movie theater to watch Mission Impossible or James Bond? How many times are children in the room when the news is on telling of a random act of murder? Violence is all around us and it really depends how we communicate that violence to our children. If we explain violence in media in a healthy way, i.e. explain to them that a movie’s a movie and as they can see from the movie, bad people have to take consequences for their actions—children will ultimately accept and understand that media doesn’t reflect every day life and that violence is not a positive choice to make.
We can apply the same process for reading. Depending on how you raise your children in terms of entertainment, your children may already understand the moral reality of violence (as per above) or may still need guidance when reading and using their imagination. In this latter case, I would suggest a similar approach. You can take this as an opportunity to spend time with your child. You can both take turns reading paragraphs, or each get a copy, read on your own, and after each chapter or every several chapters, get together to talk about it. That way, you can hear his/her thoughts on the book and see if they’re even fully comprehending the plot, and you can guide them in the right direction if the violence is disturbing them. Take this as an opportunity not to censor your child, but to give them the chance to prove to you that they’re more emotionally and mentally capable than you make him/her out to be.