On Reading Harry Potter with a Little Jedi

Little Jedi and I are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He’s 5 and a half, so this is quite an adventure. We get through about half a chapter on the nights we read, generally about 6 or 8 pages.

He asks about a million questions, and we have to stop to talk about all kinds of things from major plot point reminders to what a new word means. But he laughs in the right spots. And not only was he the one who chose the book the first time, but he’s the one who continues to choose it.

Of course, he’s heard almost as many people talk about Harry Potter as Star Wars. And he loves Star Wars. I suppose, then, that it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he wanted to start reading the books.

And I did hesitate. I just wasn’t sure if he was quite old enough. The reading level is certainly higher than his own. It’s not until book 4 that we get what seems like a departure between children’s literature and young adult literature. (The death of Cedric and the Yule Ball mark the turn for me.) But early on, the books have their share of dark moments. Just in the initial book, Harry’s parents are killed; he lives in a dark closet under the stairs because his aunt and uncle neglect him; he has to fight a teacher to prevent the return of the evil wizard who killed his parents.

And so I debated with myself some more. I knew that he could sit through a chapter book and mostly follow the story-thread from night to night. We’ve read a few other chapter books–the Winnie the Pooh books have been his favorites so far. There hasn’t been anything on this scale, though.

I started to think about all the things he currently enjoys: Batman, the Ninja Turtles, Legos, superheroes of all sorts. (And Star Wars.) I knew what sort of stories he was used to and enjoyed–Harry Potter fits the bill. I decided to trust his interest. There are some things that I might overrule him on, sure—but Harry Potter wasn’t going to be one of them, even at a young age.

We’re taking our time. We’ve been reading the book since before Christmas, and we’re only halfway through it. Harry has just had his first potions lesson. At this rate, Little Jedi will be 15 by the time we’re on the last one.

And if I’m still reading Harry Potter books with with Little Jedi when I’m 45, that’ll be just fine with me.

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  1. I’ve been trying to make that decision with my oldest little as well. She is almost 7, but scares fairly easily. Thanks for a glimpse into another parent’s mind on this subject!

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  2. My dad did a lot of reading out loud to my sister (2 years older) and me, but I don’t think HP was ever on the list. My sister was 7 or 8 when she started reading them on her own, and by the time I was 6 or so I decided I was ready to also. I don’t think the actual reading level was inappropriate, but I think the themes and characters required having someone who could answer a million questions. I didn’t have that at the time, so I gave up–possibly during the first book, certainly before halfway through the second. Because I found them so daunting, I decided I didn’t like them, and haven’t returned. But I should, and I want to, since they’re such a cultural icon, especially of my generation.

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    1. Oh gosh, yeah. They’re too difficult for even an already-reading child to tackle because, as you said, you need someone to answer questions and remind you about things. That requires a lot of reading comprehension and holding things in your head from one read to the next.

      They’re definitely meant to start with kids around 8 or 9 and move to the 14/15 range or so, even higher.

      And oh, absolutely worth the read if you’ve got time now.

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    1. Thanks! This one was a lot of fun to write because I got to talk about Little Jedi. Posts that involve him are also a bit challenging, though, because I try to be mindful of not putting too many of his personal details out there. But some of his stories are my stories, too, and they’re fun to tell. 🙂

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        1. I tend to talk about Little Jedi using only that moniker, and the photos I publish are either obscured (like the one on my info page in which he’s wearing a mustache and glasses) or don’t have him in them. I don’t say where he goes to school. And when I add bloggers on Facebook, I only allow them to see the info I make public, which includes a lot of posts and info, but not images of him or his name, same as on WordPress. I just don’t feel comfortable with putting his face and name out there, and that’s been a good way to solve things for me.

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  3. Brilliant. I’m glad your son is enjoying HP! I’ve also just finished reading the same book with my 6 year old. Some of the chapters were long and challenging so we had to make numerous pit stops. Harry Potter has certainly captured his imagination and I think he sees the links to the Star Wars stories as he recently began introducing the HP storylines into his Star Wars LEGO play! Darth Vader became Lord Voldermort, Luke – Harry, Leia – Hermione, Han – Ron, Ben – Dumbledore and so on. Was great to see (and to join in) 🙂

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    1. Awesome! That sounds like a lot of fun. We haven’t yet started playing Harry Potter, but it’s probably going to happen sooner or later. At least, I hope it does. 🙂

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  4. I loved reading stories to my girls. Their favourites were Enid Blyton (especially Amelia Jane because my youngest liked how mischievous she was!), Chronicles or Narnia and anything by Roald Dahl. I tried Harry Potter – I’d actually saved them to read so I could enjoy the story with them. They didn’t like it (but then they don’t share my tastes) so I saved them hoping we could return to the series at a later date. It never happened, which means I haven’t read them either! I must be the only person on the planet 😉

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    1. haha–My husband hasn’t read them, either, so you’re not the only one! It is really a great series, though, and so worth th read.

      I do love Roald Dahl and the Chronicles of Narnia–may have to try those next!

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  5. Enjoy that time! Soon he will want to read on his own. Then he’ll be driving and going off to college. My oldest will be 22 next week and seems like just yesterday I was curled up in chair with him on my lap and reading to him.

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    1. Difficult to believe that they grow up so fast! Bringing him hoe from the hospital seems, in some ways, like it was just a few weeks ago rather than a few years ago. Right now I can’t imagine hi learning how to drive or going away to college or having a significant other, but of course all of those things will happen. I’m just glad he really enjoys reading together and playing together a lot right now. He’s going to be the only child, so I’m enjoying it as much as I can while I can.

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    1. I think that was a major gauge for me as to whether he was ready or not—he can watch the Star Wars films without being bothered by them, in fact loves them.

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