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Age guidance for kid's books stirs up a storm in the UK

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Should publishers make suggestions about age ranges (basic ones, likeĀ  "5+" or "13+/Teen") on the backs of children's books?

A battle broke out earlier this year in the U.K. when the Publishers Association's Children's Book Group there announced that from fall 2008 on, all new children's books would carry age guidance.

But the practice is anything but acceptable to many writers, including some big names like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and His Dark Materials trilogy writer Philip Pullman.

The idea is "ill-conceived, damaging to the interests of young readers, and highly unlikely, despite the claims made by those publishers promoting the scheme, to make the slightest difference to sales," said 80 of these writers (including Pullman) in a statement issued earlier this year.

Age guidance, many of these writers feel, is overly proscriptive and discourages kids from reading outside the recommended limits.

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