Is the "Twilight" series of books age-appropriate for your adolescent or young teen?
The book series by Stephenie Meyer and the movie adaptations have been wildly popular with that audience age. While some parents, teachers, and librarians suggest those ages are appropriate, others insist the books are not age-appropriate at all for younger teens and tweens.
Content concerns that parents have about "Twilight" include:
- Obsessive love. One parent said, "It glorifies a kind of romantic love that is not only unrealistic but sets the stage for abuse."
- Unrealistic expectations. Edward is an idealized character and yet is "fighting his inner demons." This makes him very appealing but may not be what a parent hopes her child will look for in a romantic partner.
- Adult topics, including sex in "Breaking Dawn."
- Violent content.
- Woman-in-peril themes. The girl protagonist needing to be rescued by a man.
- Supernatural content, which may be objectionable to parents for religious reasons or science-based reasons.
- Unhealthy reactions. Some children become obsessed with the books and movies. One parent said, "Literarily speaking, reading the 'Twilight' series is like eating a marshmallow. It is fluffy and sweet and addictive, hardly nutritious and, in excess, bad for you."
Age Compared to Main Character
The main character, Bella Swan, is 17 in "Twilight."
One mother said her rule of thumb is that a book is most appropriate for a child or teen who is no more than three years younger than the main character. In this case, that would be age 14.
Movie Ratings as Guides
The movie adaptations came out with PG-13 ratings, suggesting that the content was best for teens age 13 and up, and parental guidance may be needed. "Twilight," "New Moon," and "Eclipse" contain some disturbing images, sexuality, and violent content.
The "Breaking Dawn" movies that are fourth and fifth in the series struggled to get a PG-13 rating rather than an R rating, which would deny entry to anyone under age 17. This reflects the violence and sexual content of the books themselves.
Many parents found fewer concerns in the first three books, but "Breaking Dawn" had more adult content. One parent said, "The fourth book is a glorious celebration of sex and pregnancy."
Here's a roundup of parent comments:
"I'm 31 and I love the series myself. There is no way I'd let my 9-year-old daughter, who is a very advanced reader, read them, though. Her maturity level just isn't there. I have no problem with my daughter reading the series, just not at this age." -Cindy
I believe these are for people from the ages of 16 and up. I would not let my 12-year-old read them. But when they are old enough I highly recommend them, best reading I have had since the 'Dragonlance' series." -Evelyn
"I found the first three books to be appropriate for my 12-year-old daughter, but she will have to wait to read 'Breaking Dawn.' There is sexual content and violent content. I wish the author had made it so that the last book would also be appropriate for my daughter's age because she is so disappointed that she has to wait to read it, but she will respect my wishes." -Wendy
Views of Teachers and Librarians
Teachers and librarians also have some advice:
One teacher said:
"If a child is interested in reading the books and continues through it, then they should be allowed to. If it is above their interest or maturity, they'll stop. Putting an age limit on a book only makes it more tempting to kids. If they're interested in books about romantic love, they've got an idea about sex already. And these books introduce it in a consensual, loving, married environment."
A librarian said:
"If you feel uncomfortable with your children reading it but know that they want to, then read it with them and talk about the books. Allow moments like these to open a dialogue that can often get stifled between parent and child during the teen years. Otherwise, these books are good for students because the author gets them to read!" -Kristen