Reading Rockets has a great interview with author Judy Blume. Two of my favorite quotes:
If we want kids to love to read, we have to have a wide variety of books for them to choose from…. I think it’s fear of not wanting to talk about certain things with your children; it’s fear that if my child reads this, my child will know about it. If they know about it, it might happen — as if it won’t happen without your children reading about it, and this has to do with puberty, sexuality. But especially fear of new ideas — fear of ideas that maybe different from yours.
But if you can get to the place where you talk to your kids about anything, then you won’t have to be afraid of what they’re reading. You can read it, too. I always think that’s a really good thing. My daughter and I always communicated through books. She was very private; I’m not. She was very private and there were things that maybe she didn’t want to talk to me about, but through books, we could talk about these things.
What I don’t like and what I really don’t like — intensely hate, you could say — is the Accelerated Reader program, even though many of my books are in that program, because they rate books, not on emotional content or emotional readiness. They’re rated by machine — how many words in a sentence, how long is a paragraph. Nothing to do with character, nothing to do with subject and again, nothing to do with emotional readiness. So that a book like Then Again, Maybe I Won’t may have fourth reading level. I get letters from angry parents who say, “My child read your book in Accelerated Reader,” and that’s a terrible thing. “He wasn’t ready. He’s reading on a fourth grade level, but he’s only in second grade.” Well, what do I say? I try to explain this and I encourage the parent to go to the school and explain why Accelerated Reader doesn’t work.