I am then faced with the unpleasant task of explaining that my books aren't really for 10-year-olds.
To which they say, "But (s)he's a very advanced reader." (Yes, every single one of them. Apparently every single child within a 10 mile radius of my home -- including my own children, I should say -- reads above grade level. This does make me question the concept of "grade level," but it wouldn't be the first time).
Hehe! I see this a lot at work: the parents who diss Charlotte's Web because their seven-year-old's reading levels mean s/he should be reading War and Peace. Then I bite my lip until it bleeds to stop myself saying, "Have you ever read War and Peace?"
I know whereof I speak. I was one of those supremely annoying precocious children, and during Easter break of my fourth-grade year, I decided the time was ripe for me to read Gone With the Wind. I hated it. I still hate it. If I'd read it at a time when I was emotionally ready for this story, I might have felt differently. (Maybe not, though. That Scarlett was a pain in the ass.)
As Alix writes, there's a difference between sentence structure and vocabulary that a kid is capable of unraveling, and the actual content of the book. My horror story about this concerns Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss. Amazing book, but very definitely for 12-up. Maybe even 15-up. But according to Accelerated Reader, it's suitable for a fourth-grader.
I wonder how many parents of "advanced readers" ever read for the joy of it. Maybe if they had, they'd understand that reading is not a racetrack, but a map to an undiscovered country.
Thanks to Liz B over at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy for pointing me at Alix's post.
P.S. In a fun bit of synchronicity, I'm currently reading Alix Flinn's Beastly. This book is unputdownable. Would I give it to a fourth-grader? Hell, no.