At Book Cave, we use the MBR content rating system to match the right books with the right readers. If you're unsure what ratings to choose in your preferences, or what ratings to give your favorite books on My Book Ratings, this post will give you some great examples.
Oh, and by the way, MBR stands for My Book Ratings, our sister site, which allows anyone in the community to rate the books they've read for heat, violence, profanity, and more.
So, how would a popular book like Harry Potter fit into our system? Let's take a look at the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Be warned that we will be using quotes from the book to illustrate our ratings in action, so if you haven't read the book, there may be spoilers!
Content Rating System: Individual Levels
Let's first look at what Harry Potter would be rated within each of the content levels: crude humor; drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; kissing; profanity; nudity; sex and intimacy; and violence and horror.
There is no crude humor in the first Harry Potter book—not even potty humor. This level would be All Ages.
Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use
There is some alcohol and tobacco use in the first Harry Potter.
"A few old women were sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking a long pipe."
"Harry watched Hagrid getting redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek . . ."
Drug, alcohol, and tobacco use is mild and is by adults only, so this rating is Mild.
The book has no kissing except for mild, paternal pecks, which is not considered actual "kissing" in our system. The kissing would be All Ages.
There is only one swear in the book, and there are no deity swears, so the profanity level would be Mild+.
There is no nudity in this book, so the nudity is All Ages.
Sex and Intimacy
There is no sex, sexual intimacy, or talking about sex in this book, so the sex and intimacy would be rated at All Ages. (Even a mention would bump it up to Mild+.)
Violence and Horror
There are several violent scenes or scenes that contain horror in the first Harry Potter, and they range from very mild mentions to more violent descriptions. Here are some examples:
"Uncle Vernon had to wrestle Dudley to the ground to get the letter from him, which was made difficult by the fact that Harry had grabbed Uncle Vernon around the neck from behind. After a minute of confused fighting, in which everyone got hit a lot by the Smelting stick . . ."
"Harry looked over . . . and saw a horrible ghost sitting there, with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood."
"There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."
"Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast . . . The cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and began to drink its blood."
The scene where Harry confronts Quirrell has both violence and horror and is the most violent scene in the book:
"Where there should have been a back to Quirrell's head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had ever seen."
"He looked around wildly to see where Quirrell had gone, and saw him hunched in pain, looking at his fingers—they were blistering before his eyes."
"Quirrell rolled off him, his face blistering, too . . ."
However, the book does not describe Quirrell dying, and there are no "on-screen" murders in the rest of the book, nor are there significant descriptions of fighting, so the violence falls just shy of moderate (barely!). We would give this a level of Mild+ violence.
Content Rating System: Overall Level
The overall level is the highest of the individual levels—in this case, Mild+. So the rating for this book would look like this:
Rating: Mild+ for mild profanity and some violence; also contains mild substance use.
If you were to compare our rating to movie ratings, it's similar to a PG film. But keep in mind that our ratings are different. For instance, we have three "PG" type ratings: Mild+, Moderate, and Moderate+, while movies only have PG and PG-13.
Keep in mind that this first book is the most mild of all the Harry Potter books, and the levels increase for subsequent books, especially the violence (in this one, the violence was nearly at moderate). Oh, and in subsequent books there is kissing, or "snogging" as Harry and his friends would say.
We hope this helps you figure out your preferences on Book Cave. For more details and examples, please check out How our Book Content Rating System Works. Thank you for your support of content-rated books!
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