The Education Librarians' Group (ELG) has come out against the idea of age guidance being printed on children's books. ELG chair Lucy Gildersleeves has made the following statement:
"We appreciate that some adults who wish to choose material for a child may be grateful for the guidance. We feel, however, that retailers already do a sufficient job of this kind of age banding via their shelf displays and that there are many suitable review guides which can offer advice for teachers.
It is ELG's opinion that such banding could easily embarrass and discourage readers who find their level is 'below' the indicated age - and equally it could hold back confident readers 'above' the level. We are familiar with the parental perception that "you can't read that because it's for older children". It is much more important that the needs and tastes of the individual child be considered - in libraries, in bookshops and by teachers - in line with the present educational commitment to a personalised approach, than applying a banding system that will either necessarily be too rigid or will have to be so encompassing to be too vague to be of any point.
We feel that publishers have experimented with this kind of banding in the past (and recall frustration at the time with what felt to us as readers 'wrong' targeting) and note that publishers dropped this attempt. We do not see the need to reintroduce it now, and that publishers seem to be confused about what they are really trying to achieve here."
You can also read the views of award-winning author Nicola Morgan on the BooksfromScotland.com website. She too is against age-ranging for many of the reasons outlined above, and thinks it's all just to make it easier for supermarkets to sell books. She gives some helpful suggestions for people who might not know how to choose books for children. Basically, go to a proper bookshop where there are staff trained to advise you. (Or of course, ask a librarian).