An Age Limit For Stephen King

A friend of mine got quite upset with me yesterday when I mentioned that my 11 year old son had just finished reading "Carrie" by Stephen King. He'd finished his library book and was looking for something else to read so I pulled down Carrie, Christine and Firestarter because I consider them some of the milder Stephen King books and some of the milder books in all my collections. He curled up and read it all in a day. He came to me afterwords and we had a total discussion on the book and what he thought of everything. He's a very mature boy, well read and very very smart. I see no problem letting him read it but maybe it's just me. Would you let an 11 year old read Stephen King?

[question posted by imsilver]

responses and comments:

I see no problem with it. But then again I was reading King about 12 too. I remember 1 Saturday sitting and reading IT in its entirety. And that was quite a read. I think it is up to the individual parents to decide what their kids can handle. No one knows our kids better than us. [ersmommy1]
wow... I'm not sure I could have handled IT at 12. Even now that's one of the one's that scares the jeebers out of me. :) [imsilver]

I was 12 when I first started reading stephen king. Introduced to him by a teacher in my junior high. I think it all depends on how mature the kid is, some 11 and 12 years might not beable to handle it while others can, Ive always been able to handle stuff like that, hell my dad took me to see jaws when I was four, didnt scare me at all, I loved it lol, my mom wasnt very happy though lol. Then when I was 14, I was reading the shawshank redemption, cant remember what king called it lol, was right at the scene where whats his name is being raped in prison, set the book down and my mom picked it up, yeah I wasnt allowed to read king for awhile lol. [darkjedi]

I don't see any reason not to unless your child is easily influencially scared by stuff like that. I say let them read what they want :) [Shawchert]

I started reading Stephen King when I was 10. I think you have to know how grounded your child is before giving them a book. I also read all the V.C. Sndrews books. I am a firm believer that children shouldn't be held back from books. My parents were extremely religious, but my father told me that he let me know what was right and wrong. Now, I have to choose for myself whether what I am reading is "right or wrong". My daughter and I would sit down and talk about the books she read. I felt that was better than her hiding the book and then reading it behind my back. [deeesfamilyvalues]

Depends on the 11 year old. You obviously knew whether or not your son could handle the books. You were careful in what you chose (although after reading Christine I had trouble sleeping and I was legally an adult at the time). It's not your friend's place to decide whether or not your son should read a book you gave him. Other 11 year olds might not be able to handle any Stephen King. If you know the person you are suggesting the book too, it is fine. If you don't you should err on the side of caution on not recommend books that could be either too scary or too, uh-hemm, mature, if you know what I mean. [rosettaresearch]

I started reading Stephen King around that age. What you should let you kids read depends on how mature they are and what the can really understand. I am sure a lot of kids wouldn't understand Stephen King or would be terrified. [sedel1027]

I have read every book that Stephen King has ever published, including the Bachman books. Some of them are pretty wild, I have to admit; but if the child is mature enough and you are able to keep the lines of communication open about his reading, I see no problem with this. My own son was reading Stephen King by age 12, and I found that his enjoyment of this author really helped him do better in his English classes. Any time that we can encourage our children to read, I think we are doing them a service. I'm sure no parent would allow an 11 year old to read a book that he has not either read or at the very least previewed. You know your son better than your friend does; trust yourself. [janeives43]

It is wrong to judge kids by their ages. You were right. You know your son better than anyone. He may be mature for 11, but I know a lot of adults in their 40s who would not be able to handle Carrie. I read Carrie, and I watched the movie. I'm glad he was able to enjoy it. I'm glad he was mature enough to enjoy it. [danishcanadian]

Hey your doing great if your 11 year old wants to read anything I say! I dont think its an inappropriate book at all. I bet it made for some interesting conversation. Has it sparked a desire in him to read the rest of Kings books? He has some short stories which were made into movies like stand by me (the body) or the Shawshank redemption (rita Hayworth, though dont quote me on this title) the Green Mile is also very interesting but my favorite is the Long Walk. [LadyWinter]
The Long Walk is one of my favorite stories. I, too, would love to see that one turned into a movie. [imsilver]

I would not let an 11 year old read a Stephen King, mainly because Stephen King talks about a lot of evil. I do not want to be preachy, I love Stephen King books and I was hooked on his books for a long time back in high school however, he does tackle things that 11 year olds might not be ready for. Even if the 11 year old is well read and mature, 11 years old is still an impressionable age and the books he reads might create an impact to his character someday. I do not know if it will be for good or bad, but definitely it will. I would suggest the classics because he is bound to remember the books he reads now more than the books he will read later on in life, better to give him books that are actually classics that will be used again later on in his academic life. [beautygunk]
Stephen King may be amongst the classics that are studied by this boy's generation in high school. I have been quite surprised by some of the movies and books chosen by my sons' English teachers. If you want kids to enjoy reading, it can't all be Dickens and Shakespeare. You have to give them something that will make them WANT to read. [Piscesmoon]

I am a huge Stephen King fan, but I'm not too sure about his books being suitable for young children. I would not be worried about the scary aspect, because children just love 'scary'. What I would be worried about is the bad language. For instance Christine has some of the most horrible language in it and I wouldn't want my own children to be reading that. Carrie was his first and I think Firestarter came soon after. I can't remember much bad language in those. [Anomalie]
I'm not too worried about the bad language. He hears worse these days in regular tv shows and movies. We've had plenty of discussions about inappropriate language - especially at his age. [imsilver]

No problem whatsoever. Obviously, he enjoys reading and although some of the King books are do have some graphic and sexual content, I'm sure he's more than ready to read about it. I started reading King at that age also, and to this day, I still have many of his books which I'm hoping one day to share with my kids as well. Anyway, as long as he's reading and he enjoys it, it's a great advantage for him as he gets into higher grades and needs to read more. My daughter just had to read The Call of the Wild, and I thought that was pretty intense for an 11 year old, and now we are reading Animal Farm, The Giver and Ender's Game. What they are being assigned is a bit tough too, so go ahead and give him a carte blanche library card, it's good for them! [di1159]
The Giver is such a wonderful story. I read it out loud to my sister-in-law last year because it was assigned in her english class and my son came home from school a couple of days ago telling me that the teacher was reading that story to his class. I absolutely loved that book. [imsilver]

Don't worry about it, everyone I knew thought I was wrong for getting my daughter a book about the physical being which was very graphic, she was 10 years old. The best benefit of that was she knew the proper names of a womans anatomy. We as parents know our children like no other, there is evil in life and I believe that a child that is over sheltered is a child that is lost during adulthood. You did it all right he read it and the both of you discussed it. My son at the age of 8 has sat down and watched on tv a woman having a baby, if they are old enough to ask they are old enough to be told/shown the truth. This is my belief. Reading is really fundamental! [grammasnook]

If your friend only knew what I read at 11 years old. lol King is mild with those books and I think you made a good selection. [irishidid]

I think it is between you & your son what he reads & it is NONE of your friend's business. It seems obvious to me that you & your son have an admirable, yet unusual bond where you have open communication. That is an art I thought had gotten lost. I wasn't allowed to ride rolleroasters because my Mom & Dad were afraid of them & refused to let me ride by myself. I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies because my younger brother might get scared. I was 21 years old, married, with a stepchild before I finally got to watch the original King Kong with Fay Wray. I was soooo disappointed as it was no where near what my mind had conjured up!!! I think your son would have discussed with you if he had fears from reading the book. My guess is that since he was so engrossed in the book, he enjoyed it I think your friend's fears are of her own making as Stephen King scares HER!!! [LadyMarissa]
I don't think is so much Stephen King... it's reading in particular... lol.. she's not much of a reader herself. [imsilver]

I don't see anything wrong with it. I was reading Stephen King at that age too. My mom belonged to a club where she got a new Stephen King book every month or every other month or something like that. I would read them as soon as she was done with them. I think it is great that at 11 years old he can sit there and read the whole thing and enjoy it. It is rare to see young kids picking books over television and video games anymore. [lilybug]

I'm of two minds about this because part of me says no way why would you let a child read horror stories, but the other part of me applauds you for encouraging a love of reading in your child. I think that parents are the best judges of their kids and what may be perfectly fine for your 11 year old may not be ok for another 11 year old. Congratulations for knowing your child well enough to realize that he could handle reading stories like that. I always read books that were a bit mature for me also, and I think that my initial negative response is just because I myself don't like reading horror stories, but again good for you for encouraging your child to read, it's almost becoming a lost past time these days! [starryeyes90]

yes, speaking from the viewpoint of a 20-year-old who read stephen king since high school. it's what crush the turtle said in "finding nemo" again: "when they know you know, you know". stephen king books are rather sick (think George Stark in "The Dark Half", etc.). some (like your friend) would want to minimize their kid's exposure to that sort of stuff until the kid turns 13 or so, right? but then if the kid wants to read stephen king, i mean REALLY wants to, well there's nothing much anyone can do to stop him/her. there really is no problem with letting your kid read stephen king. my idea is, if you gave your son the tools to put the more sickoid aspects of the novels in perspective, then you're son can read all the stephen king books he wants. =o [solaris765]

I see no problem with it at all. I don't believe in censoring, and I believe keeping an 11 year old from reading Stephen King would qualify as censorship. Your son sounds like a smart kid, and there's nothing wrong in letting him read those books. [mgeise]

I think that will be ok if your kid is mature enough he can judge by himself.Even a lot of movies on TV are much horrible than Stephen King's book.So a 11-year-old boy can read them under parental guidence. [Tonycn]

If your son is mature enough to understand the books then he should be allowed to read them. Stephen King is a great author and his books are highly imaginative. Yes they contain violence and horror but no more than what kids see on television or experience through video games. I would prefer my child sit and read a book then play a game. I began reading at a very early age and by age 11 had to convince the school librarian that I could understand and read the books for older grades. I was so frustrated but she finally relented. Reading is the greatest learning tool we have. [bostonterrio]

Sure, why not? I am a firm believer that anything that gets a child reading is good. Stephen King spins a good story and I don't see a problem at all. Some kids of your son's age will read Goosebumps books and some will read Stephen King. Most kids I know love horror so, why not let him read one of the masters? You know your own son better than anyone else so your friend has no right to be upset with you over what your son reads. [Piscesmoon]

ya it is interesting to know for him about the king and and other historical things which can help him in future and facing the problems [sudais2006]

I dont have a problem with it, I think that we know our children better then someone else. Two of our daughters loves reading him, one reading him since about 12. Some dont think it is right, but as long as they dont get scared, I figure at least they are reading! The one that started reading my books at 12 is a very strong reader. Her one teacher is always giving me a hassle on what I allow her to read. In my opinion it isnt any of her business and my daughter reads a little of everything. Right now she is into Greek Mythology. [Ithink]

I see no reason why a child should not read the books by Stephen King. Perhaps all of his books arenīt good for children to read. Some of the books are quite terrifying,even for an adult. But as an adult,i love most of his books. [ennasus59]

I would let an 11 year old read Stephen King, imsilver, and I have done so. My oldest son enjoys reading King and started at a young age. Like you, I gave him some books that I thought he would enjoy the most, and we discussed them after he read them. I also started reading King around that age. The first Stephen King book I reead was either Firestarter or The Stand (I can't remember which.) [Transdisc]

First of all yes I think it is fine if you think it is fine...after all you are the parent. And second King is a renowned writer who does not just write graphic novels for the thrill of it, most of his writings have religious and historical connotations in it....and if your son is well read and mature for his age this will only make his mind stronger while satisfying the imagination. I remember I was sitting in class one day (forgot what grade I was in at the time) in middle school and my teacher noticed the novel I had in my stack of books. She got a little upset too...or was asking alot of questions like "Your parents let you read that?" Anyways it was a Jackie Collins novel. And I don't know if you know much about her but she is very graphic in detail on violence, mafia and drug related stuff (I think the book was Lucky or Chances about the santanglo family)...and when I asked my mom about it (it was her book) she said she would rather me read about things and come to her to talk than to find out without her knowing and feel like I could not talk to her. And you know what. I do believe because I read those books and realized how life can be (through my mind's eye) as those characters that it just was not worth being that way. Plus, they were page turners and I learned how life works in reality and fantasy. Like I said you are the parent...and you know what he can handle. [taface412]

yes of course. i think stephen king is a very intelligent person. his imagination is really WOW. i started reading his books when i was about your son's age too. i don't think it affected me in a negative way. i am a bookworm because of him. is that a bad thing? lol. [alatecablebill]

If I had a child, yes, I'd let him or her read Stephen King. Should there come a point where I need to explain some of the scenarios which pop up, then I'll gladly do it. I might hold off on "Gerald's Game" or "Rose Madder," as those are two books that are a little more explicit, but I'll have to think about it. [coolcoder]