How I Handle “Adult” Content in My Kids’ Books

It really doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing thing.

Gina Denny
8 min readFeb 7


From the beginning, let’s be clear: I do not support your book bans. I was shocked to find out I knew a real-life book banner, and I literally own a t-shirt denouncing the behavior.

I am also a parent, former homeschooler, and former classroom teacher who practices a religion that is often associated with “conservative” behaviors.

In other words, I do not support book bans, but I run in some circles where the conversation runs hot and I’ve heard all the reasons and the opinions.

My children are all still children — ranging in age from eight to sixteen — and still in K-12 public schools, but I’m not a brand-new mom of an infant opining about things beyond my experience. I’m in the thick of it, parenting-wise.

I allow my kids to read whatever they want, whenever they want.

I don’t curtail their reading. At all.

I do, however, advise them on their reading choices.

Our home has five six-foot bookcases in our living room. The bottom shelf on each case is full of picture books and early readers (we finally outgrew the baby board books and lift-the-flap activity books and had those recycled). The next shelf up is filled with chapter books and lower-middle-grade books. Beyond that comes G-rated romances and historicals aimed at an adult or young adult audience and non-fiction aimed at kids and teens. On and on it goes until you get to the top shelf where you’ll find Gone Girl, Outlander, and Game of Thrones.

The books on the top shelf are not appropriate for my eight-year-old to read. Obviously, he likely wouldn’t try to read them; they look boring to a second-grader with their plain covers and blocky font titles. If he did try, he probably wouldn’t get far, as the text is dense on the page, full of words he doesn’t recognize and the plot moving far too slowly to hold his attention.

Thematically, they’re full of stuff that he isn’t ready to understand. It is not in his developmental best interest to read graphic sex or violence or try to understand the complexities of “gray” characters on that scale. He’s struggling to understand the difference between “Snape was working for the good side” and “Snape was a good guy” (because he definitely was not a “good” guy).



Gina Denny

B.S. Business/Human Resources M.S. in Child Development/Education. Associate editor for Touchpoint Press. Erstwhile classroom music teacher.