We're reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why Do Books Not Have Age Ratings? (Explained & Solved!)

Jamey Muller
Updated: June 6, 2022
5 min read

Movies and video games have age ratings. In theory, it would only make sense if books had age ratings too.

So why don’t books have age ratings? And how can you know if a book is age-appropriate?

Here’s Why Books Don’t Have Age Ratings:

Most books don’t have age ratings because there is simply no demand for a rating system. Other reasons are a lack of funding and the simple reason that there are just too many books available for them to be rated. There are a few independent rating systems, but they’re not used by many publishers.

There are rare instances where books have an age recommendation, which acts as an age rating.

These are usually printed on the inside part of the book’s front jacket flap. But that’s very rare.

Most books today aren’t age-rated. It might sound a bit weird, but people just use their conscience and common sense in deciding whether a book is for them.

Of course, this is way different than other mediums such as movies and TV series which have very clear age ratings.

But on the other hand, the very few remaining books and publishers that use age ratings are those you’ll find in school textbooks. These are usually called middle-grade books which are for kids aged 9 to 12. While those for ages 12 to 18 are called young adult books.

How Do You Know if a Book Is Age-Appropriate?

Age appropriateness is important for books because this is where you’ll see if the content is educational and useful enough for the reader it’s intended for.

Age appropriateness also means that the content of the book is in line with the understanding of the reader and that it won’t have a negative effect on their mindset and ideals in life.

Good thing there are many ways to know if a book is age-appropriate.

Some of the best ways to do so are:

  • Knowing the reader’s reading level.
  • Doing a background check.
  • Learning PICK.

Here’s an in-depth discussion on what these are:

Knowing the Reader’s Reading Level

Reading level means the level of understanding and perception of the book’s reader. An example of this is with children.

Make sure that the child understands what they are reading. You can do this by checking the reading level that’s usually printed at the back of the book.

If the reader is 8-years-old, then make sure that the book you’ll choose has an age rating of 7 to 10.

This method works most of the time, but not always!

Every reader is different. Struggling readers might fall one level lower than their age. Meanwhile, advanced readers are most likely several levels ahead of their age bracket.

Aside from that, there’s also this so-called reading difficulty which varies from book to book. Some books use more advanced words, while others use simpler and more casual language.

The tone also plays a huge role because some books are written in a more poetic sense.

This means that readers should interpret the book’s content more creatively and artistically, instead of understanding them as they are written.

Doing a Background Check

Do a background check on the book before buying it. You can do this by reading online reviews. Listen to what customers and readers have to say about the book.

You can also seek advice from librarians, teachers, or even learning coaches.

However, this isn’t anymore that effective compared to online reviews, especially since most people are now using the internet to share their direct thoughts and criticisms about something.

I recommend you check Common Sense Media. This is an online platform that rates books, movies, games, and apps according to learning value and age. Simply use the search bar and type down the book you want to learn more about.

Learning PICK

PICK is an acronym for Purpose, Interest, Comprehend, and Know.

Every reader should know this technique so that they can choose the right book for them.

Know the reason why you want to read the book. Is it just for fun? Is it for school? Or do you just want to increase your knowledge?

Listen to yourself and ask if the book interests you. Gauge on the content and descriptions and think if you’ll enjoy reading this.

Also, ask yourself if you think you can understand what you are reading. And last but not least is to know the words in the title. If you don’t understand more than two words, then don’t bother reading it.

Do Books Have a Rating System Like Movies?

Many compare books with movies. Some even say that if movies are rated, then books should be too! Well, that makes sense. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, the connection people create between the two is just irrelevant.

First, let’s look at the number of books released every year. There are around 50,000 books that come out annually. Compare that to the 500 to 700 movies released yearly around the globe.

There are just too many books out there to review.

Another reason is that movies make a lot of money compared to books.

Yes, there are best-selling books. But the movie industry generates around $500 billion every year. Then compare that to the meager $30 billion average annual revenue of the publishing industry. There’s just not much budget for book publishers to hire professional reviewers.

We also need to consider the impact of reading a book and watching a movie. Reading about something doesn’t make much of an impact on our emotions and feelings than watching a movie.

We are visual beings and it’s in our nature to be affected more by what we see in a visual sense than just reading through words and blocks of texts and then comprehending them afterward.

There’s also the fact that you can just skim through books if you don’t want to read about something, such as a gruesome murder chapter. You can just flip the page and get past the section you don’t like.

That’s not the same experience with movies, though, because it’s not that easy to skim through a movie.

If you don’t like what you see in the movie theater, then the only thing you can do is to leave your seat and get out of the cinema. Meanwhile, you can just flip the page or close the book if you don’t like what you’re reading.

These are some of the best reasons why most books don’t have age ratings compared to movies.

Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
Have any questions? Write us a message.
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.