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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheHornBook


My Own Discretion Advised

Some parents are strict. They limit what their kids can watch on TV and how many hours they can watch it. They don’t allow their kids to read certain books. Usually what ends up happening is that those kids rebel and rent “inappropriate” movies or check out forbidden books from the library and read them in secret. When my mom was my age — thirteen — she got caught reading a Judy Blume book called Forever. Her mom and dad took it away from her. Later she found it in her dad’s dresser drawer, finished reading it, and put it back where she found it without them ever knowing. (Until now. Hi, Grandma and Grandpa!)

My parents have never held me back from TV shows or books that I’ve been interested in. I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my all-time favorite shows, when I was nine. That same year I was one of the few kids in my class allowed to read The Hunger Games and then go see the movie. Since I was eleven, I’ve loved the TV show Broad City, starring my favorite comedians: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Abbi and Ilana have taught me a lot about feminism and about the importance of living openly and without judgment, not only in their sexual lives but also in their friendships.

hepperman_poisoned applesMy mom, Christine Heppermann, writes for young adults. I read her book of poems, Poisoned Apples, when I was ten, and her novel in verse, Ask Me How I Got Here, when I was twelve. The books are meant for an older audience and mention topics some adults might think I shouldn’t know about, like sex and abortion and the way women are portrayed in the media. But reading about things like that helps me to become a person with my own well-formed opinions and teaches me to see the world in a much more realistic way.

My parents let me do those things because they trust me. They know that if a show makes me uncomfortable, I’ll stop watching it. If a book is too hard or scary, I’ll stop reading it. They trust me enough to let me assess my own reactions and make my own decisions about what I can — and can’t — handle.

I was taught that keeping their trust is important as well. My parents are the people I want to impress more than anyone. I want them to know me for my best self, and by giving me their trust, they also gave me the sense that I have a responsibility to live up to it. Because they don’t put boundaries on what I read or watch, I don’t have to hide. In the past I have asked questions that other parents would find odd or inappropriate, but not mine. And because I was honest, they gave me honest answers that showed me a lot.

So although many parents think it’s best to keep kids away from media that contains violence or sex (or violent vampires who enjoy having sex), mine use it as an opportunity to teach me so I can make smart, informed choices in my life. I am growing up not feeling sheltered. I know I can trust my parents with anything, and they know they can trust me.

Audrey Hinsdale About Audrey Hinsdale

Audrey Hinsdale is the thirteen-year-old daughter of author Christine Heppermann, and like her mother, loves to write. Along with writing, Audrey enjoys running cross country, playing the trumpet, clarinet, and piano, and acting. She also loves animals and food; her favorite animals are her two cats, Raja and Jinkx, and her favorite food is curly fries.

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