The Dear Author website has a poll about how what age people think is the right age to start reading romances. I started reading ‘racy’ romance about 13 or 14 years old. I was already reading tamer, closed door, romances. Here’s the three thing I think I got from reading those big, sweeping, sexy romances:
1) As a Freshman in high school, tests showed my reading comprehension to be college level.
2) I learned that I deserved love.
3) I leaned it was okay to like sex inside a relationship.
Since I’ve been married to the same man since I was 20, and very happy, I don’t think romances taught me to be promiscuous or whatever it is we’re afraid of.
The polls at Dear Author are often interesting, and this one got me to thinking…how often do we see polls like, “How young is too young to read a murder mystery?”
I also read Stephen King at 14 or 15. Those books scared me! SALEM’S LOT kept me up several nights straight, and yet, to this day I don’t actually believe in vampires. When I wake at night and hear noises, I never think it’s a vampire.
I am a big proponent of parents deciding what their children should be allowed to read. I thing TWILIGHT or EVERMORE is much more appropriate for a young girl than my books.
But I read them and they really didn’t shape my attitude toward sex a whole lot. My family, friends and life experience has a much stronger impact.
What about you?
July 23rd, 2009 at 7:41 am · Link
When I was younger there wasn’t much selection for younger readers (10-15 yo). After reading the Zane Grey and Edgar Rice-Burroughs selection at the library, I started on Barbara Cartland’s books . . . oh . . . but . . . Lord Ravensmiere . . . please… don’t. . . touch me there. I think I read my first Elizabeth Peter’s (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her books!) when I was 14 and my first Kathleen Woodiwess at 16. No, they didn’t make me promiscuous–they did provide escapism and the reality that ‘twue love’ (Guess the movie quote) exists.
I do think parents should guide younger readers and they need to be aware of what their children are reading, just like they need to know what they are doing on the computer. Personally, I think 8 is too young to read Twilight and yet there are parents of one of my kid’s classmates who let their child read that book. It’s great that the kid is a good reader, but the book choice isn’t the best IMO.
July 23rd, 2009 at 8:47 am · Link
I didn’t answer the poll, because I don’t think there is or should be a set age. I think it depends on the child and the parent, and how open the lines of communication are between them. I don’t remember when I read my first romance and I’m not sure when Darling Daughter read hers. She 15 now, and I know she’s been a huge fan of romance novels for years.
I guess I’ve never worried about what she reads because we came to an agreement when it comes to sex in books: 1) If she reads anything she doesn’t understand, she asks. 2) If she reads anything that makes her uncomfortable, she skips over it (and sometimes we talk about it later). Of course, we talk about everything and anything, so conversations about sex are easier.
She loved your Blood Magic, btw, and now we’ll have to fight over Soul Magic when it comes out.
July 23rd, 2009 at 8:57 am · Link
That is a tricky question. I read my first romance Sweet, Savage, Love by Rosemary Rogers when I was 13. I think I was to young for that book. BUT, that being said, my background didn’t support me. Now my daughter would love to read the books I write, but I told her absolutely not. (she’s 13) I write pretty steamy though. She also doesn’t like romance on screen, nor does she like Twilight. Weird huh? She likes scary and horror. Something I can’t watch or read because I have nightmares. But her Nana takes her to see the scary ones and she also reads scary books.
She’s stil in the stage that boys are disgusting. My hubby supports her attitude! lol
But I think it depends on the kid, depends on the parents and has nothing to do with a set age.
July 23rd, 2009 at 9:32 am · Link
That is a great question. My daughter is 14 and she starts high school this fall. I was reading Danielle Steel way before high school; Secrets was one of my favorites, which is pretty darn steamy. I’m just having trouble giving up the notion that she’s too young to read the same books that I read. I would love to be able to laugh about Stephanie Plum and Samantha Shaw with her or talk about the great writing of Nora Roberts or J.R. Ward, but I’m not grown up enough to let go of my little girl.
On that same note, she loves Twilight, Gossip Girls and a host of other books that I only hope are PG-13. What’s a mother to do?
July 23rd, 2009 at 9:40 am · Link
I agree that it depends on the kids/parents. I read my first romance (either Sweet, Savage Love or Hot Ice by Nora Roberts) when I was 12. They didn’t much shape my attitude about sex either. Nor did they make me promiscuous. I think a kid’s maturity level and communication with the parents should be bigger factors than age in deciding whether they’re old enough to read romance.
Margaret, love the Princess Bride reference!
July 23rd, 2009 at 9:57 am · Link
Margaret, Princess Bride? Just a guess that I stole from Erika I’d have no idea myself.
Good grief, I read Barbara Cartland too! I wonder if my brain would explode if I tried to read it now?
I have all boys, which probably makes a difference. But I read many of the boosk they read. For instance, I remember my middle son devouring the Goosebumps books. So I read several of them and thought there were fine. In high school, they were reading about pop stars…and that stuff was worse than any book they could possibly read. But I also tried to stay up on those same stars so I could talk to them, and that seemed to work well.
Parents really need to pay attention.
July 23rd, 2009 at 10:00 am · Link
B.E., that makes sense to me! If you and your daughter are talking, she’s doing fine.
I’m so glad she loved BLOOD MAGIC! See I feel fine about that, because YOU read the book and so you know what it contains. When parents ask me, I always said it’s best to read the book themselves.
Good luck with your battle over SOUL MAGIC, LOL!
July 23rd, 2009 at 10:06 am · Link
Kira, I laughed at your husband! Such a dad!
I read SWEET SAVAGE LOVE too! I think the difference is that my older, married sister gave it to me, and we talked freely about it. She gave me a lot of books, but she was always there to discuss things. So I had “perspective” along with the fantasty, if that makes sense.
It sounds like your daughter wouldn’t really be interested yet. Maybe you could give her selected scenes to read? Just to give her an idea? I waited until my oldest was about 18 (I think) before he read my mysteries. My decision was based on the wanting him to be old enough to just ignore things that tripped his “ick” fact because I’m his mom. When he read the books, he thought they were funny. He told me he just skimmed the romance scenes.
July 23rd, 2009 at 10:10 am · Link
Erika, aww! Is this a bit of a transition for you with your daughter going into high school?
You know, it sounds like she’s happy with what she’s reading. She’ll let you know when she’s ready to expand, don’t you think?
Being a mother–hardest job ever! And the best!
July 23rd, 2009 at 10:12 am · Link
Dawn, I totally agree with your common sense approach. It makes me more uneasy when people are so afraid to talk to their kids.
The whole idea that romances will make a kid promiscuous is kind of sad.
July 23rd, 2009 at 10:42 am · Link
I’m moving slow this morning, but at least I’m back on a regular basis! I MISSED ya’ll!!!!! *sniffle*
I’ve mentioned before that my dad “gave me the keys” to the adult section of the library when I was about 11. I’d already read the entire children’s section. (Small town – small library) I devoured The Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. The first two books I checked out of the adult section was Ian Fleming’s THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and Mary Stewart’s THE MOONSPINNERS. I didn’t actually read a “romance” until I was in high school when I picked up one of my mother’s. I was much more into westerns and scifi (what my dad read). Maybe that’s why the romance tends to take a backseat in some of my work….hrm….
I let The Only read whatever she wanted. Christopher Pike was a favorite. The first romance of mine she read was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s FANTASY LOVER. She became a huge fan of the Darkhunters and often swiped my copies. She, too, loves the Wingslayer Hunters, but she’s also in college now. When she’s read my books, she skips the sexy bits because she laughs Dr. Pepper through her nose. Don’t ask…
July 23rd, 2009 at 11:09 am · Link
Silver, it wasn’t the same without you!
Your dad sounds smart
But come on, I just HAVE to ask! Why does she laugh Dr. Pepper through her nose? Is it because you’re her MOM and the horror of it all?
My oldest son skips that too. He just rolls his eyes. But he loved my Samantha Shaw character, he thought she was a walking disaster and the reason men drink. We “aruged” about this all the time. Totally fun.
July 23rd, 2009 at 11:45 am · Link
Appletinis?? Good gravy woman it’s only 9:44 in the morning!
July 23rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm · Link
Erika, it’s noon somewhere in the world! Just sayin’… *checks clock* Like here, for instance! *shakes and pours*
Jen, she’s still at that stage that she thinks she’s adopted because “Mom and Dad just don’t do the “horizontal tango*” – lol. The first time she read one of my love scenes, she snorted DP out her nose, followed quickly by a “EWWWWWwwwwwwWWWWW!” I think she was shocked that I could write those words without blushing. I’ve had to remind her often that RL very seldom mirrors the scenes in a romance. Dammit!
July 23rd, 2009 at 1:30 pm · Link
Erika, but it’s APPLETINIS!!! And I’d like to point out that it’s toward the end of the week too!
Besides, it’s been a challenging morning here in my house. One kid with car trouble (fine now) and another with college registration snafu (fixed). I need appletinis!
July 23rd, 2009 at 1:33 pm · Link
Silver, ROTFL!!! Kids! They really do keep us laughing. I remember feeling the same way about my parents.
What’s this? Romance novels aren’t real life? Okay, I’m going to need MORE APPLETINIS!
July 23rd, 2009 at 2:50 pm · Link
Hmmmm … not something I have to think about yet as my eldest is 6 but I’m gonna mirror most of what was said above. It comes down to the maturity level of the ‘child’ and what their parents think they can handle. I’m glad to see there is a MUCH bigger selection of YA novels out there now. Wish there’d been when I was younger.
My mom handed me one of her romances when I was 13 or 14 and told me the same thing B.E. said to her daughter ‘come to me with any questions’. I read a few – Did NOT make me promiscuous, in fact it made me value the ‘act’ more and I waited for the right guy ! Seeing what something can and should be does that I think, which is why people long for the HEA – but I was more into fantasy/sci-fi and thriller stories. Must admit I’m happy to see there is more of a ‘blending’ in genres lately – just as there is in real life.
Great topic !
July 23rd, 2009 at 3:36 pm · Link
ps: got a little treat for you in my latest post
July 23rd, 2009 at 3:57 pm · Link
Ban, that picture! I want him! What a perfect hero!
July 23rd, 2009 at 4:00 pm · Link
Oh yeah, Ban, on your first comment, I totally agree on the bigger selection of YA novels! I like reading them myself sometimes. I love that people have choices.
My brain is kind of stuck on that picture!
July 23rd, 2009 at 9:59 pm · Link
I remember sneaking my mother’s Rosemary Rogers’ books and I came out okay. I love, love mystery books.
July 24th, 2009 at 11:14 am · Link
Dru, you came out fantastic I know mystery is your favorite!