From my parents...
My sister told me I ought to write a little comment about the approach we take in our home to determine appropriate literature. She thought some might read Jack's (or Katie's or Gracie's) reviews and then say, "I wonder what their mom thought of this book?"
First, you should know that in our home, my husband and I seek as best we can to form our children in a Catholic Christian worldview. We take the responsibility of teaching our children very seriously. Great literature has been central to this, especially Holy Scripture. And for every one secular book they are allowed to read, I bet they've read five classics.
I have not pre-read every book before my children (oh, how I wish I could!) We have eight children (smile). We try to discuss as many as possible and all of the 'reading-able' children are in Socratic-style book clubs. Are there some books I wish we hadn't allowed our kids to read? Sure! There aren't many good book review sites, especially for the newer books that come out. We aren't afraid to just put a book down.
Lately, we did struggle with "The Hunger Games." Frankly, it's quite unsettling to think of children fighting children to the death - very unsettling. The first comment out of one our children was, "Wow! If we don't watch out, that's where America is going!" and Katie just this afternoon said, "You know, Katniss was amazing for the sacrifice she made for her younger sister by taking her place." All books aren't appropriate for all kids - you know your children.
Another example is "Cheaper by the Dozen" where there is some language that you might not want to expose your children to. When a book is a great classic with some questionable language, I suggest you read aloud and 'skip' those words. Gladys Hunt, with a strong Christian worldview, who wrote "Honey for a Child's Heart" recommended that book for 4th grade! Book Recommendations can be so subjective.
If you have any feedback about any of the books or have suggestions, please don't be afraid to share. Happy Reading!