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What Do You Mean Its Not For Kids / Literature

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  • Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble has an introduction warning readers, "This is not a book for youngsters. I point this out because I know, from reading my mail, that a lot of youngsters read my humor books and newspaper columns, and I'm thrilled that they do. But this book is not for them, because some of the characters use Adult Language." Enough people ignored the warning and were offended by the language that Tricky Business began with a more explicit Content Warning in larger letters.
  • Given the number of children's stories Roald Dahl wrote, some libraries will put any of his works in the children's section. This is not a good idea — his early work might best be described as "O. Henry meets The Twilight Zone."
    • His WWII-fiction book Over to You. Death of a Child in hideous ways, Nightmare Sequences, a close-up view of a bomber pilot's death, two men drinking themselves into madness, and a random page-long scene where the main character discusses an Egyptian dancer's breasts.
    • It's even worse than that — Dahl wrote erotic fiction. In exactly the same writing style as his children's books. When the last story features what could be delicately called human rutting perfume & a penis expansion scene, you know it's not for children. Here's a quote from the Amazon page linked above (you know, the collection of erotic fiction!):
      From the publication of James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the 1960s to his death in 1990, Roald Dahl became the most successful children’s author in the world. Nearly twenty years later, a fresh generation of children seek out his work with instinctive fanaticism. His creations endure — through Hollywood movies, theatre adaptations and musical works, but still most potently of all through the pure magic of his writing upon the page.
  • Neil Gaiman:
    • The Russian version of the short story anthology Fragile Things sports a seemingly innocent cover features a boy sitting in a graveyard playing cat's-cradle with a ghost. This was likely meant to invoke the feel of one of Gaiman's other works, The Graveyard Book. But while The Graveyard Book is (in Gaiman's own words) "intended for people of all ages," Fragile Things most certainly isn't.
    • Stardust is a fairy story, but that doesn't mean it's a children's book. It has a sex scene in the first chapter.
  • Diana Wynne Jones primarily wrote children's books, but Deep Secret was originally published under an adult label — and for good reason. The book has more explicit references to sex (and, relatedly, pornography and adultery) than her other works, as well as several instances of rather shocking violence (some of it against children). Its sequel The Merlin Conspiracy, however, is much tamer — so that it was published for children, but with the inside blurb claiming the book is stand-alone. Similarly, the lists of Jones' other works found inside her other children's books usually make it a point to exclude Deep Secret. However, there was a publishing of Deep Secret done under Tor's Starscape label, which is specifically targeted at young teenage readers.
  • Professional storyteller (yes, there is such a thing) Bil Lepp had much to say about this trope in regards to literature. He explains that a child playing video games, watching television, or reading graphic novels is a lot more prone to parental intervention than one reading a book, as the usual parent's response to their offspring sitting quietly with a book in their hands is that they are broadening their minds. He uses this simultaneously as a way to attract children to literature (an issue he is quite passionate about), and to tell parents to be more concerned, er, continue supporting young readers.
    • Even with parents who are aware that the books cover sensitive topics, they're often more apt to allow their children to read them than to watch films or play games that address the same topics, under the not-always-accurate assumption that books would naturally be more careful about how they would approach them.
      • It could also be that you don't actually have to see anything in a book; reading a sex scene would be a lot different for a kid than seeing it on camera, and the same goes for gore. Kids may have active imaginations, but when reading they typically won't imagine what they can't understand (naturally) and so wouldn't be so forcibly exposed to violence as they would be if it was on television. Of course, if the scenes are described particularly graphically, that probably won't be the case at all. In an article on writing for children that used to be on The BBC website, Diana Wynne Jones advises against sex scenes because the kids will find them boring and confusing, rather than traumatic.
  • All of Anne McCaffrey's books (though especially the Pern ones) seem to be, for one reason or another, attractive to kids and teens. (On, a large number of reviewers of these books say they originally read them at quite a young age.)
    • There was a printing of the first Dragonriders of Pern book that had illustrations throughout and a back-cover blurb that basically made the book out to be a story about a girl and her dragon. It was also slightly edited to be more appropriate for kids. Now imagine an unknowing parent presenting their newly Pern-addicted eleven-year-old with the second book in the series, of which no kid-friendly edition exists. Wow, look! It's got rape, domestic violence, a disturbing dragon fight scene, F'nor and Canth getting their skins burned off, discussion of abortion... maybe this wasn't such a good idea...
  • You know the innocent Joey Pigza children's award-winning books? Well, what could be wrong with a book by the same author named Jack on the Tracks? Perhaps the references to porno, striptease, and suicide?
  • James Patterson is one of those authors who writes for all the demographics: Adults, teenagers, and children. While his Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha Ha series are made for child audiences, thus kid-friendly, most of his other books, such as the Alex Cross and Maximum Ride series, aren't really. This is probably why his children's books have the "Jimmy Patterson" label to differentiate.
  • J. K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, which features such kid un-friendly topics as domestic abuse, adultery, drug use, rape and internet porn to name a few, seems to be suffering this. Many people fail to realize that just because it's by the Harry Potter lady doesn't mean it's for kids. This is speculated to be the reason why Rowling's subsequent adult novels in the Cormoran Strike series were released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
  • For a very odd case reminiscent of Mark Twain's issues, there is Mumu by Ivan Turgenev. Originally an adult-directed commentary asserting that feudal Russia was a Crapsack World, it has since become an incredibly popular bedtime story in its native Russia, spawning quite a few cartoons "marketed" (Soviet Union, markets illegal) for kids, despite featuring what Russians call a realistic ending in which the starring deaf-mute drowns Mumu, his only friend and loyal puppy. This explains so much about Russia.
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Prince and the Pauper lead many to characterize Mark Twain as an author of children's fiction. But Adventures of Huckleberry Finn isn't really for kids, and The Mysterious Stranger certainly isn't.
    • Twain's own response to this question:
      DEAR SIR:

      I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distresses me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave. Ask that young lady—she will tell you so.

      Most honestly do I wish I could say a softening word or two in defence of Huck's character, since you wish it, but really in my opinion it is no better than those of Solomon, David, Satan, and the rest of the sacred brotherhood.

      If there is an unexpurgated Bible in the Children's Department, won't you please help that young woman remove Huck and Tom from that questionable companionship?

      Sincerely yours,
      S. L. Clemens
  • While the works of Jules Verne aren't actually inappropriate, they were originally written for adults and are still sold for adults in France. In the Anglophone world until very recently, the translations were so poorly written that only children put up with the simplistic grammar and enjoyed the ideas.
  • Rosemary Wells, who is well-known as the creator behind Max and Ruby, Timothy Goes to School, the Yoko series, and Yoko & Friends, always makes children's books that star anthropomorphic animals. She has also created other books without her signature animal illustrations such as "Red Moon" (which is set during The American Civil War) and "Through The Hidden Door", which are geared towards older readers. Which explains why she doesn't do illustrations for those books along with "Helping Children Cope With Divorce" and "Helping Children Cope With Grief". Probably to avoid the situation Raymond Briggs did by using the same illustration style he used in The Snowman for his graphic novel When the Wind Blows.

  • Lord of the Flies may be the ur-example of "just because it's about children doesn't mean it's for children." This mistake isn't usually made by native English speakers because of its cultural impact, but there have been cases of the book being included in English as a foreign language reading programmes for kids, presumably because the curriculum developers heard "literary classic" and "kids on a desert island" and stopped paying attention. Perfectly illustrated in this story.
  • The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, when it warns you that it's not for kids. The work page says: "The Princess will eat kittens and friendly, sapient monsters alive, and is shown in the sequel to make a game out of torture". Under Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Animal Farm: Think it's a light-hearted story about talking animals? Nope, it's actually a very clever allegory of the Russian Revolution, and a general morality tale about power corrupting. The first edition was even subtitled "A Fairy Story". One Animated Adaptation wimped out on the ending though, which took a lot of objectionable content out.
  • The Arthurian Legends: rape, incest, marital infidelity, and a massacre of the innocents. That's before we even get onto the battles and the chivalrous bloodletting. As for TH White's version, it has a description of a cat being boiled alive. Plus, if you have the original, standalone version of his The Sword in the Stone, well, Madam Mim owns a lithograph entitled "The Virgin's Choise" — would you be able to explain that to your kids? FYI 
  • BattleTech! A science fiction series about Humongous Mecha, just like in the cartoons right? Well... let's see. Graphic depictions of war, mutilation, and many varieties of horrible screaming death. (PPC hit to the cockpit, anyone? What about a person having their head split open with a katana? Disturbingly detailed, in-depth depiction of an assassination by sniper? Anyone?) Implied sexual situations, outright Brother–Sister Incest / Squick with the Clan trueborn warrior caste depending on your take on their antics. Brutal betrayals and teaching lessons such as "The sneakiest, most ruthless bastard wins when his (or her) competition is dead." Fun series, but still loaded down with enough to scar unprepared young minds.
  • The Belgariad is sometimes put in the children's section of bookstores, and it raises some questions: "So what exactly makes the Belgariad suitable for children? The graphic descriptions of human sacrifices to Torak? The slave in Nyissa who dies from being eaten by leeches? Zedar's fate? The torture chamber in the second book? Just about all of Rak Cthol?"
  • The Book of Lost Things: It's a story about a 12-year-old boy who visits a fairy-tale land... and is filled to the brim with Nightmare Fuel.
  • Because of its covers (in two different versions) of the little girl protagonist Minnie, Phoebe Gloeckner's somewhat autobiographical comic collection A Child's Life is sometimes filed in the children's section of libraries and bookstores. This particular child, among other things, was a victim of statutory rape by her mother's boyfriend and spent some time as a prostitute in exchange for drugs.
  • The Circleverse by Tamora Pierce. Yes, the protagonists start at age 10. No, this is not something you should show your ten-year-old. Even in the first series (arguably the lightest), rape is explicitly mentioned and there are quite a few gruesome deaths. And yet some libraries still put it in the kids' section.
  • The A Court of Thorns and Roses series is described as "young adult" fantasy and is often found in the teen section in bookstores and libraries. However, the sexual content is a lot more explicit than the average young adult novel, to the point that some printings come with content warnings advising reader discretion on the cover. From A Court of Silver Flames onwards the series is now marketed more as "New Adult" fiction (typically aimed at readers aged 18-25 rather than younger teens) for this reason.
  • Count and Countess starts off as deceptively lighthearted. Once the two main characters grow up, though...
  • Russell T. Davies was wise enough to avert this when the BBC wanted to republish his Doctor Who tie-in novel Damaged Goods after he became the high-profile Show Runner of the revived series. He reportedly persuaded the BBC that young Doctor Who fans shouldn't be encouraged to read one of the grimmer entries in what was in general a notoriously Darker and Edgier portion of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, featuring, amongst other things, a subplot about cocaine (although he admitted in an interview that he personally didn’t mind children reading about that sort of thing, he was merely scared of the tabloids running with it and getting the revived show cancelled after its first series).
  • The writer of the Dark Heavens series has no idea why her books keep getting shelved in the YA section, but in Dark Serpent, she had to put a note in the front saying "mature themes, possibly inappropriate for younger readers, reader discretion is advised." This is a bit of an understatement, as the sex, violence and torture in the series are about as kid-friendly as Game of Thrones (a show which is actually referenced in the series at one point).
  • Robin McKinley is best known for her stories for young adults, but her novel Deerskin is most definitely not one of them. A Grimmification of the fairytale Donkeyskin, it deals with such things as Parental Incest, rape, miscarriage, and psychological breakdowns. It's a beautiful story, but definitely not something a ten-year-old should be reading.
  • Discworld - funny fantasy by the guy who wrote kids' books like the Nomes Trilogy and Johnny Maxwell Trilogy? Well, maybe. There probably isn't anything particularly scarring in there, and the language never gets worse than "shit" (and rarely above "bloody"), but Sir Terry himself admitted to being perturbed when a class full of kids wrote him letters about The Truth and how much they liked the violent, would-be drug addict Mr Tulip. Also, many of the earlier books are directly riffing on other works, which themselves are not all suitable for children. Of course, there are also Discworld novels that are aimed at kids: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and the Tiffany Aching novels - although one might argue each Tiffany book isn't entirely suitable for kids younger than Tiffany at the time (I Shall Wear Midnight features mob justice for a child beater, and even in-story Tiffany's dad is uncomfortable telling her the backstory to that, as well as a being of pure hatred that poisons everyone against Tiffany — it's notable that Wintersmith onwards lack the "compact hardback" editions of previous YA Discworld novels, appearing more like the adult books).
    • Where's My Cow? is a very mild example; it's a picture book, and not too inappropriate, but does touch on some of the more unpleasant or serious aspects of Discworld, including Foul Ole Ron (whose Catchphrase includes a form of the word "bugger") and Vetinari, about whom readers are advised to "really don't let him detain you."
  • A Dog's Purpose is a story about a dog that was adapted into a family friendly film. That doesn't mean the book is for kids, though. While not the most graphic book, it has allusions to sex, violence, and death that the movie removed and there's some mild profanity sprinkled about. The sequel book is even more mature, as is its Spiritual Successor A Dog's Way Home, with suicidal characters and addiction discussed blatantly. A Dog's Purpose and its sequels have Lighter and Softer books about the protagonist as a puppy.
  • Doglands: It's about talking dogs, but that doesn't mean it's family-friendly. There's discussion of neutering, some sexual humor, animal abuse, and violence (including impalement, beating, shooting, neck snapping, dogs getting their throats ripped out, and being eaten alive.)
  • William Horwood's Duncton Wood series is about talking moles. Ahh, fluffy critters! It's most definitely not for children, what with all the graphic sex and violence.
  • Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews was originally written for adults. It developed a Periphery Demographic of preteen and teen girls, who secretly passed it around, snuck it home, and read it by flashlight under the covers in bed. One attraction was the Brother–Sister Incest between the two oldest children. Another was the book's "Take That!" against the notion that no matter how mean she seems sometimes, your mother loves you and has your best interests at heart. It was very much a stage beyond Judy Blume's Forever.
  • Pierre Dubois's La Grande Encyclopédie des lutins. It's a book about fairies, gnomes, elves, pixies and the like. Surely it must be a great gift for any child! Yep, especially the occasional nudity (for example, the faun, who is outright depicted with a prominent erect penis.) Or the (admittedly more or less subtle) sexual references (such as the Hosenteufel, a demon who is, quite literally, a personification of the male organ.) Or the explicit and terror-inducing descriptions of just what these fairies can sometimes do to you. (This fairy world is definitely not a Sugar Bowl.)
  • Gulliver's Travels shows that this trope is Older Than They Think. Largely regarded as a children's tale with many, many Bowdlerised versions of it out there, it was successful among children even when it was first published in the 18th century... despite the fact that the unaltered text is, in fact, a heavily satirical and most definitely an adult book, being among the most preeminent satirical works of the English language. This book is definitely not for children for two reasons. First, the high-minded satire that would go over children’s heads, such as a satire of the Catholic-Protestant wars of the time in the form of a war waged over which end one should crack a boiled egg on. Second, the frequent rude humour, such as a character called Master Bates. In the unabridged versions, when Gulliver is in the land of the Brobdingnag, he's placed across one young woman's nipple as a type of play. The following stories get worse; people forget Jonathan Swift wrote satires, not kids' stories. There's a reason only Lilliput is usually adapted, and they still leave out Gulliver's "when you gotta go" fire-fighting techniques.
    • A chapter of the Doraemon manga has Nobita and his friends reading the book. Whether he is reading the simplified version or not, or if it's just the author wanting to incorporate the book somehow in that story isn't known.
  • Halvgudene: some seem to think of it as children's literature, but the characters speak openly about drugs, sexual attraction, violence, cutting etc. They can swear a lot too. The way the main characters was bullied is also rough to read. Especially when they go back to Oslo without Trigg, and the bully asks "Did she cut a little too far in?".
  • Haruhi Suzumiya's first volume was, at one point, on the Accelerated Reading list for fifth graders, and one of the questions was about how Haruhi got possession of one of the computer club's computers (that is, Haruhi blackmailed the president by taking compromising photos of him and Mikuru). The series itself is definitely aimed at a young adult audience, particularly with how often Mikuru is forced into cosplay outfits for the sake of fanservice.
  • The Host (2008) is an odd case. It was marketed as Stephenie Meyer's first adult-oriented novel, though a lot of people assumed it was Young Adult, especially because Meyer's previous, better-known series was aimed at teens (even some media outlets got confused about this, mistakenly referring to it as a YA novel) and unlike many other instances of this, there's no content that's particularly inappropriate for teens, either. It's worth noting that none of the main protagonists are teens: Melanie is 21 and her love interest Jared is 30, while Wanderer's love interest Ian is also in his mid 20s and Wanderer is technically centuries old. Admittedly, the main plot's combination of a love triangle and a rebellion against a tyrannical sci-fi government was a popular premise for YA fiction at the time, Wanderer ends up inhabiting the body of a 17 year old girl permanently, and then-18 year old Saoirse Ronan was cast as Melanie/Wanderer in the film adaptation, all of which may have added to the perception The Host was YA.
  • Author John Grogan recalled getting many dirty looks from parents at signings of Marley & Me, having assumed the book was kid-friendly thanks to the beautiful golden Labrador on the cover. It's not—there's discussion of his wife's miscarriage, complications with her third pregnancy, her post-partum depression, their sex life, and on a milder note, things that kids would simply be bored by. This forced him to eventually put out a kiddie version of the book, as well as inspire him to put out a series of children's books based on Marley.
  • Most Greek and Roman myths in their classical form. Ovid's Metamorphoses have copious amounts of rape, gore, and cruelty, which can easily take people off guard who are more familiar with the kid-friendly adaptations of the myths like Disney's Hercules.
    • Great Zeus And All His Children Greek Mythology For Adults by Donald Richardson. It is incredibly freaking graphic in its rendition of the Greek Myths, sex, gorn, violence, you name it. Despite its title, it found its way into many a junior high and high school library.
    • Benard Evslin's Greek Mythology series was more toned down, but still quite graphic, especially with just-offscreen sex and violence, described in "sufficient" detail. It was explicitly marketed to young adults and up, but too often found its way into kids' sections. It might have been the pretty pictures, which were nearly all famous paintings based on Greek myths. Including very sexual and graphically violent ones, such as Polyphemus enjoying his feast of Odysseus' men.
  • Some teachers in Germany have seventh-graders (so children who can be as young as 12) read Perfume by Patrick Süßkind. The book features a sociopathic serial killer as the protagonist, scenes of graphic violence, a mass orgy induced by the titular perfume and ends with the protagonist committing suicide by letting himself be cannibalized. Those teachers probably let themselves be fooled by the fact that the film is rated 12, despite featuring scenes that could very well disturb a 12- or 13-year-old, such as the bloody and painful portrayal of the birth of the protagonist.note . The book and movie are recommended by the ministry of education, but for grade 10, not only due to its portrayal of sex and violence, but also because most of the philosophical references and undertones, the reason it got a recommendation in the first place, would go right over a 7th grader's head.
  • Picture books and illustrated novels as a whole deserve a mention here. In particular, Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg have found themselves running into an "Illustration Age Ghetto". One case that stands is William Steig's book of Greek myths. They aren't by their nature very child-friendly, but Steig actually went out of his way to choose some of the bawdier ones (one is about the origin of prostitution and another about how Hercules and his girlfriend liked to dress in each other's clothing).
  • The Plague Dogs is an excellent book that brave kids will love, but not written for children. The movie takes it even further. They drown at sea, rather than The Owner saving them.
  • A non-explicit variation in the novel version of The Princess Bride: William Goldman is presented as the "abridger" of someone else's book. He is surprised to discover that his favorite story from childhood (which had always been read to him by his father) was really meant to be a historical satire, containing long descriptions and historical accounts which would bore children to tears.
  • For some reason, possibly because like many current YA titles it features young female protagonists in a dystopian future, The Queen Of The Tearling keeps getting listed under young adult. And yet, with topics popping up such as rape, murder, mass murder (including of children), child rape, infant rape, prostitution, forced prostitution, and torture, this book is often compared to A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Happens to the Samurai Cat books. The fact that they're illustrated doesn't help in convincing clueless parents that they're not just another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon ripoff, but deliberately over-the-top Gornfests parodying pop culture.
  • Some have have described The Savior's Champion as being "Young Adult" and the story does bear similarities to YA plots and tropes popular at the time (deadly tournament, evil government, underdog protagonist, forbidden love etc). However, it's clearly not aimed at young teens given the extremely graphic violence, sexual content and frequent use of strong profanity / crass language.
  • A book published in the Soviet Union titled "Dostoevsky to children". You know, Dostoevsky has never written books for children, but he did write about children, which was a principle to select fragments for this anthology.
    • The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Treenote  — a retelling of The Little Match Girl, with a dying child and many already miserably dead included.
    • Death of Ilyusha from The Brothers Karamazov. For extra spice, a trick with feeding a dog with a pin is described unlike the boy, it gets better.
    • Death of vehicle-crushed drunk Marmeladov in front of his children, surrounded by their tuberculosis stricken mother, prostitute elder half-sister and some local riff-raff (including one kind student who is, you probably know, a murderer).
  • In the Soviet Union there was a "classical age ghetto" — a common belief that classical art, especially literature, was made to teach what is True Art and Good Sense to schoolchildren. This co-existed with a very fuzzy age-rating system and the fact that descriptions of pre-revolutionary times were explicitly designed to show that everything was a Crapsack World before Lenin came and fixed it. Some combination of these factors allowed Ivan Bunin's work Village to be published by the publishing house "Malysh"note  (specializing mainly in books for very young children) and to be placed to school libraries. Well, if the intent was to make late Tsarist Russia look terrifying, this book did the job, portraying stillbirth, forced adultery, infanticide, husband spoiling, gang rape and other things not AT ALL for babies.
  • The Sky Fall series by Shannon Messenger has a number of low ratings on Amazon from parents who got it for their kids and were disappointed to learn that unlike the author's other series Keeper of the Lost Cities, which is for children, Sky Fall is young adult.
  • Spellsinger: A young man is Trapped in Another World full of cute fuzzy Funny Animal characters, where he learns to work magic by singing. Sounds like a children's book. Then you realise that the prologue includes a Gorn-filled description of the destruction of a town, that Jon-Tom was transported into this magical world while smoking pot, that furry sex is a regular occurrence in said world, and that Mudge and Pog use the word "fuck" in just about every other sentence. Oh, and don't forget the stripteasing stoat.
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. Don't be fooled by the amazing art, this book is dark, dark, dark with an extra heaping of cynicism and horror.
  • Star Wars Legends eventually got this way in its later decades:
  • Don't let the cute cats on the cover of Tailchaser's Song fool you. It's a serious, adult-geared fantasy novel that just happens to star cats. The mythology and large number of characters would turn off most younger readers but the violence, especially in the latter portion of the book, can get graphic (as in, "cats are torn to pieces" graphic).
  • Henrik Drescher's Tales From The Crib. Don't let the bottle shaped book and the picture book format fool you. This book is filled with sexual imagery and dark themes about the dark side of parenting.
  • In the world of Harry Potter, this trope held true of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. However, Wizarding children rejected Mrs. Beatrix Bloxam's attempts to sanitize them.
    • Oh, Merlin. "The Warlock's Hairy Heart" was like something straight from Sandman. The Illustration of the Warlock and the Woman dead in a very big pool of blood.
  • Tarzan. Thanks to the Disneyfied animated adaptationsnote , the books are sometimes mistaken for being child-friendly jungle adventure stories as well. In reality, Burroughs' novels present a fair amount of violence, occasionally even Gorny torture scenes.
  • Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan is classified as a YA book, and some book covers make it look like a children's fairy tale. However, it contains incestuous rape of a teenage girl, forced abortion, teen pregnancy, two instances of gang rape, and even bestiality.
  • Disney's Aladdin was a kid's movie, complete with a source-tribute opening song about "Arabian nights". But parents whose kids pester them for more of the same shouldn't touch A Thousand and One Nights with a ten foot pole, unless they want their children reading about forced marriage, infidelity, serial uxoricide, and explicit descriptions of human anatomy... and that's just in the frame story! Hopefully they'll catch on before Scheherazade starts rambling on about corpse-tearing ghouls, bestiality, or penis humor. There's a lot of racist content and inherent Values Dissonance in it, too. One of the milder stories from a highly edited edition: A wealthy man has a spoiled, wastrel son he never puts a leash on. The father buys a gorgeous slave girl he intends to educate and train and then present to a high-ranking official. The son demands he be given the woman, and the father... says no. And tells not only him but the woman no contact period. Not that the son lets up. This conflict goes on for some time, until shortly before the woman is due to be presented, when the father has to be away from the house for several hours. He puts two small, weak guards (what??) at the door of the harem, and the son forces his way in. When the father comes back, he explicitly tells his son the woman is now his wife and the son can't divorce without his permission -then throws both of them out!note 
  • The Tin Drum is a story of a boy who refused to grow up. It has a premise of a children's tale but the book and movie are both very adult and heavily political.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird is a funny case in that if you're a little kid, you probably won't get some of the more family-unfriendly lines, in a sort of twisted cousin of Parental Bonus. It's certainly one hell of a delayed realization, however, to understand the line, "She said she'd never kissed a man before, and she might as well kiss a nigger. She said what her pa do to her don't count."
    • They have this one in the UK (or did at least) as a book study for kids at school somewhere around 12-16. As a powerful book about rape, incest, bigotry, racism, slavery, and human rights, it's one of those books people like to try to get banned because it has the word 'nigger' in it.
      • UK still has To Kill a Mockingbird as a book study in upper high school (KS4/GCSEs) so it's age 14-16.
    • It's also commonly assigned as required reading in the US for junior high/high school students (about 12-18.)
  • Even though The Twilight Saga is marketed towards Young Adults (15+) it still doesn't stop younger kids (sometimes down to 12 and below) reading them. The depiction of Bella falling for the guy who talks about killing her like it's funny to him is only the beginning. The scene where Bella gets physically abused nearly to the point of death is never dealt with. There is suicidal depression over having been dumped by a boy, manipulations by other boys, mouth-rape... The scene where Edward rips the baby out of Bella with his teeth is incredibly disturbing. There's also a number of killings of humans by vampires over the course of the series, and we're supposed to be okay with it because the main characters are.
  • H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds is a classic novel and such. But is in no way for kids. Especially some of the graphic descriptions of the Martians, and the dark psychological study of how people might react to such an invasion. One wonders why they make kids 12-14 read it in schools.
  • Wicked and its sequels? Oh, an alternate telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Surely such a thing would not have explicit sex, drugs, swearing, graphic violence, extramarital affairs, a sociopathic, depressive protagonist who kills an old woman in her bed, the abuse of minorities, and a crippled religious fanatic who is horribly killed. Not to mention that it has a quite different portrayal of Oz (at least when compared to the film), which often invokes Canon Defilement in fans of Baum canon, especially younger fans. This is not helped by the fact that the the musical adaptation is fairly kid-friendly. Gregory Maguire lampshaded this in an interview, when he talked about signing copies of the novel at performances of the aforementioned musical adaptation, and admitted that he had to talk quite a few adults out of buying it for their children.
  • Aversion: Piers Anthony's Xanth series starts out very clean-cut. There's violence, and there's off-screen sex, but no more than most fairy tales. Then, he found out that his books were being put into the kid's section and he had the "Adult Conspiracy" break down and the books became more explicit.
  • Tasakeru: It's a series about cute, fluffy talking animals like squirrels and rabbits... which involves bloody warfare, racism (speciesism?), religious intolerance, Mind Rape, and not a little innuendo.
  • The YA genre runs into this a lot, due to the "young" part of its name. Many books (and adaptations) in the genre have attracted the ire of Media Watchdogs and parental groups for sexual content, violence, language and adult themes that are seen to be inappropriate for children's literature, but YA is not children's literature. In fact it covers a demographic ranging from late teens to early 30s, and the genre's content reflects this.
    • This article by Cracked presents several cases of novels YA with questionable messages, a good example is Steffie Can't Come out to Play, where a 14-year-old girl runs away from home looking to become a model but ends up becoming a minor prostitute . The novel is not at all realistic dealing with the issue of prostitution, and instead presents it as something glamorous and desirable, focusing on the money earned, the luxuries and the beautiful clothes (the author of the article read this novel with only nine years of age).
  • As plenty of the above examples prove, Fantasy, or even the entire umbrella of speculative fiction, gets hit with this hard, and this likely won't let up any time soon. There are people who refuse to read it for the sole reason that "it's just for kids", and others who assume "only nerds" read it, whatever that means to them, and that due to this it's an automatically "lesser" genre, full of cutesy critters and wise old wizards in star-covered robes and child protagonists who automatically defeat evil and save the day. This article appears to embrace this mindset full-on, causing one to wonder if the author has read a fantasy novel since the 70's.
  • The original Zorro stories by Johnston McCulley qualify. Apart from the obvious Values Dissonance, they are also rather bloody, with Zorro carving his trademark "Z" into his foes' flesh, rather than their clothing, as in the Disney adaptation. Most of the film adaptations are less violent than the source material too.