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What age for Harry Potter?


bpskowski
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My ds 8 has already read 1-4 of the series. I was going to hold off a couple of years for the rest of the series. Our library doesn't even keep the ones after 4 in kids section, they are upstairs with adult books.

 

He is so in love with the whole Harry Potter world. I've started Hogwarts correspondence school with him, which he is just thrilled with, to keep his passion fed.

 

Last night my dh told him he could read the rest of them. :glare: Of course, he has never read any of them. He is just responding to my ds's passion and wants to feed his love of reading (which is a bug my dh never caught).

 

I've told him (afterwards), that I really don't think it's advisable. I've heard the rest of the series is "darker" and for a more mature audience.

 

So far he hasn't bat an eye at any of the events in 1-4. But in his mind good always overcomes evil.

 

So, please give me advice. What does the hive think? Are there any young readers that have gone through the whole series?

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A few years back, I remember Nancy Pearl addressing this topic in her book, "Book Crush."

I also remember reading an article, in which J.K. Rowling recommended children begin reading HP at the age of 11yo (The same age HP is when the story begins.)

Then progress through the series with one new book each year. The idea was to have the reader "grow up" alongside HP.

John Granger aka Hogwarts Professor addresses questions parents have about HP on his website http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com

Warm Regards,

Kathy

:001_smile:

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My oldest read the entire series starting at age 8 and finishing around age 11. She's read them literally dozens of times since.

 

I just started reading them out loud to my twins - just turned 10 and we're in the beginning of book 4. We're going fairly slowly, I'm thinking we'll finish it by Christmas. I'm hoping they'll get tired of waiting for me to get around to reading and read the rest themselves. ;)

 

I think it depends on the child, but if he's enjoying the series, I really don't see why he can't finish reading them now. While they do get bit darker, there isn't anything inappropriate. If the events at the end of book 4 weren't too much for him, there really isn't anything worse in the later books.

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My son (just turned 9) just finished the whole series. DD (turned 8 today) is on the 3rd book, and I think she intends to read them all. I spent a year doing the series as read-alouds with my kids when they were 6 and 5. Neither of mine get scared easily though. The books ARE dark, but in the end good does triumph over evil. Some people are really opposed to letting young children (10 and under) read them. IMHO, it depends on the child. If you have a child who might have nightmares over them, then obviously you should wait. If not, I don't see a problem with it.

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My 11 yr old son just finished 4 last night. He read it in 4 days (over 700 pps)! I went to the web site Common Sense Media to read specific reviews and age recommendations. I love this web site because it allows me to thoroughly investigate the appropriateness of a movie or book in a matter of minutes. There is details specific to sexuality, language, violence, positive role models, drug/alcohol use, etc. I was able to use this and foreworn my child that a teen character is murdered at the end of 4 which I thought might upset him so I wanted to prepare him.

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Well my oldest read through the entire series starting at 7.5yod. His dad started reading 1 and 2 out loud and he just picked up the book and started reading. Once he finished the series the first time he started over. Now at 9 he has read the entire series almost 10 times. My current 7 yod is reading book 7 and my 5yod wants to start reading but his reading level is not quite there yet:) So I think kids can read the books as soon as they are ready. We have read the books and love them too. We are also available and do talk with our boys frequently about what is happening in the stories.

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My ds was lucky enough to be about the same age as Harry as the books were being released. He read them as they were released at the rate of one per year. I think it is a terrific way to read them. My dd was between 10 and 11 when she read them the first time. Both of them don't want youngest dd to read them younger that 10 and hopefully not until her 11th birthday. They think that even if a kid can comprehend them earlier that they won't relate to the characters as well until they are older. There are a lot of wonderful books that are better for younger kids that shouldn't be overlooked in a rush to get to H.P.

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In my opinion, the worst scene in the entire series is in Book 4. (It's the scene in the graveyard when Voldemort comes back.) That was the worst scene in the entire series, hands down. If your son has already read that and not been freaked out, I'd go ahead and let him finish the series. (Although, if you had said he had read only the first 3 books, I would have said wait longer before allowing him to read the rest of the series.)

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My ds was lucky enough to be about the same age as Harry as the books were being released. He read them as they were released at the rate of one per year. I think it is a terrific way to read them. My dd was between 10 and 11 when she read them the first time. Both of them don't want youngest dd to read them younger that 10 and hopefully not until her 11th birthday. They think that even if a kid can comprehend them earlier that they won't relate to the characters as well until they are older. There are a lot of wonderful books that are better for younger kids that shouldn't be overlooked in a rush to get to H.P.

 

I think this is true. My 8 yr old has read them all. He read the first three at about age 7 and then I made him stop. His best friend also read the first three and stopped but then about 6 months or so later his friend was allowed to keep reading so I let ds read the rest. My hesitation was more that I thought he’d relate less to the characters as teenagers at his age and that he’d enjoy them more if he waited than that I was worried about the content of the books. If it had been content I wouldn’t have let him read just because his friend was. But I know his friend and knew he’d tell him the ending and I didn’t want that ruined for him either.

 

He wasn’t bothered by the content, good does win and he’s read other books as scary. I think the teenage stuff just kind of bored him so he missed a good bit of the character development.

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My DD listened to all of the audio books when she was 7. We even went to the theater for the last movie a couple months before her 8th birthday.

She is my child though that NEVER gets upset/anxious about books or movies.

 

 

Some people are really opposed to letting young children (10 and under) read them. IMHO, it depends on the child. If you have a child who might have nightmares over them, then obviously you should wait. If not, I don't see a problem with it.

:iagree:

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The first three books are straight up juvenile novels. After that, they become young adult. I can tell you that after he has read the entire series, he prob won't see the sense of doing the correspondence school because some of the major players are dead.

 

In the 6th book there is lots of teen dating drama, kissing, jealousy, etc. There is some very mild swearing. It is a book for teenagers.

 

Can younger kids read them? Yes. But why? There are lots of great books that a Harry Potter loving kid will enjoy. Why not wait until they are a bit older and can relate better to the characters? They can get so much more out of the series when they are older.

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Theoretically, I think older elementary or middle school are a great age for Harry Potter (like 9-12 year olds).

 

But... it didn't work out that way because they were on my shelf and my kids really wanted to read them and I have a sense that a reader should be able to choose what to read. Plus, I figured they'd put it down if it's too scary or not the right level or not appropriate for where they're at emotionally. So my older daughter read the first three when she was 6 and the last ones when she was 8. And my younger daughter got into listening to them at age 8 on audio books during long car rides over the past year and has listened to all of them, but has not read them yet.

 

Neither appear damaged by the early reading of Harry Potter.

 

But... like a previous poster said -- there are lots of good children's books out there. So I wouldn't go out of my way to encourage a younger child to read them... especially the later books.

Edited by Momling
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Have you read books 4-7 yourself? I get the feeling from your post that maybe you haven't? I would do that first, if that's the case. Get a sense of how much they change. I read them all as an adult, as they came out, and I was surprised at how much book four changes course from books 1-3. I would hesitate to let an 8yo read the rest of the series.

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I read them aloud or suggest them more slowly and I am often one of the people saying hold back on a book if you can, but if a child wants to read them, go forth and read, kid. I don't stop kids from reading books unless it's genuinely p*rn or something. And they aren't that dark. I think a lot of parents are seeing them from the lens of adults. To kids, it's a story.

 

What's confusing to me is that some parents are like, no Harry Potter until they're 11 (or 10 or 12 or whatever) but they read things like The Giver, Ender's Game, Gregor the Overlander, Hatchet... What in the world? I mean, it's really just that Harry Potter has gained this aura around it.

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She is my child though that NEVER gets upset/anxious about books or movies.

 

This describes my daughter too. She started the series at age seven and is halfway through Book 6. She'll probably finish it all before age 8. Both my husband and I read the books (I might read them a third time since she's begging me).

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Ds9 read 1-5 when he was 8, but stopped voluntarily because he was sobered by a beloved character's passing. He says he'll wait until he's older to read 6 and 7. I'm guessing when he's 10-11. If I can, I'll have dd start at 11 to grow with HP.

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I was super lucky with my dd - she was 6 or 7 when the series first came out, so every time a new book came out, we got it and read it to her, but she grew up with them. My older son was too young at the time, and i read him a few, but he never loved it that much and i think never got past book 4. My youngest loved books 1-3 when he was 7, but could not sit through book 4. I think it depends on the kid. Some kids will be disturbed and some wont.

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In my opinion, the worst scene in the entire series is in Book 4. (It's the scene in the graveyard when Voldemort comes back.) That was the worst scene in the entire series, hands down. If your son has already read that and not been freaked out, I'd go ahead and let him finish the series. (Although, if you had said he had read only the first 3 books, I would have said wait longer before allowing him to read the rest of the series.)

 

I disagree. The attitude that permeates Book 5 is SO depressing that it makes you want to throw the book across the room or something. It affected MY attitude RL and i'm an adult. Both times I've read it. I have no desire to read it again partly for this reason.

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I read the series aloud to my ds who is 10 over the summer, I think that was a great age to start. I did skip over some of the torture scenes and the cemetary scene in book 4 when voldemort returns though.

He watched all the movies right after he finished the book but did skip over parts like the lake of inferi since he knew what was coming up.

My ds is quite sensitive but he decided to read them himself which was why I let him.

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I disagree. The attitude that permeates Book 5 is SO depressing that it makes you want to throw the book across the room or something. It affected MY attitude RL and i'm an adult. Both times I've read it. I have no desire to read it again partly for this reason.

 

Book 5 was just plain old boring. It didn't unsettle me the way the graveyard scene did.

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I had almost the same exact situation last year!!! My ds7(at the time) had read through number 4 & I didn't want him to read more for a year or two at least. Somehow I ended up agreeing after some great thought & pleasant discussion that he could read more (I'd read the whole series myself and loved it, but didn't think he was ready). It turns out he was totally ready - he did GREAT!! Honestly, it was hard to resist giving him those big books to read when the alternative was him reading nothing (since the only the he wanted was that). We discussed it and I made it clear that if he felt uncomfortable about anything in it he could come talk with me about it.

 

Anyhow, we've now not only read all the books, we've also watched all the movies through 6 and will watch both 7 soon (which I totally wasn't going to do!). It went great - he is now 8yo & still loves HP and did very well with the reading and movies (which weren't as bad as I thought).

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They do get a little scarier, darker, and more sad as the series progresses, but there's nothing inherently "inappropriate" for younger elementary aged kids. I mean, there's heavy stuff! But what kids can handle in terms of emotional content ranges pretty wildly and what would give one child nightmares won't cause another to blink. I don't think there's anything truly "twisted" or graphic in Harry Potter (and there's nothing sexually explicit -- though there are a couple of kisses in later books)... What there is is betrayal and redemption, loss, sacrifice...

 

I tried to hold my older one off a little. It was easier because the books were still coming out. I decided to let my younger one read as she wanted. I found she read the books at a pace that was appropriate for her.

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I held off on the final books for a while, I knew the emotional issues involved were more than would be healthy for her. She finally finished the series at the end of grade 4. We were studying WWII and I wanted her to write a paper comparing Voldemort and Hitler:D. Best writing of the year.

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I don't think I would want to discuss with my young child that some people are evil and like to cause pain and misery to others (they may have experienced bullying of course but hopefully you were there to rescue them then). Also there would be some advantage in having completed at least one ancients cycle and a bit of Latin to get the puns. I think maybe you do need to respect the author when she says she didn't write them for young children.

 

So 8 for the first 3 and at least 10 for the rest. I would say unless your child is acknowledged as as several years more mature than their age under 7 is too young. It is more about life experience and background knowledge than reading ability.

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DS9 is whizzing through them. We're taking it a book at a time. - he's gotten through books 1-4 with no problems. If book 5 causes a lot of upset, we'll hold off on the later ones.

 

While I like the idea of "growing with Harry", I don't see it as realistic when all the books are readily available.

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I told my oldest I would read it to him when he was 9. We started it two months after his birthday. I read every one of the books aloud over the next year and a half. He never read ahead or started reading any of the other books before we'd read it aloud. It was the perfect way for him to process them.

 

I would have liked to wait another year or even two, but I had given him that 9 year old marker a few years earlier when everyonewas reading it. He has probably read them over 4 or 5 times. It was so fun to see those 10/11 year old boys being so into HP. It really was a magical time for he and his buddies as they were all 'into' it at the same time. Most of his friends have moved on, but my boy is rereading them right now.

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We really went back and forth on this one. At first I told my 7yo that I preferred for her to stop after book 3, and that I would require her to stop after book 4. Then I talked to a bunch of people about it, and my opinion evolved. The most useful comment I got from several other people whose kids read Harry Potter young was that children will usually take away from a book what they're ready to take away from it, and they'll gloss over the parts they're not ready to cope with.

 

She read 1-4 in huge gulps. She read 5 a little more slowly. She's reading 6 at a glacial pace. She only reads it at bedtime, instead of every spare moment, and sometimes she skips a couple of nights and reads Calvin & Hobbes instead. I keep suggesting that she set it aside and come back to it next year, and she keeps insisting that she wants to finish. I don't think she'll read #7 for a while, though.

 

I did warn her in advance: character death in book 4, beloved character death in book 5, even more beloved character death in book 6, widespread slaughter in book 7.

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This is one of those things that I think it REALLY depends on the kid. I absolutely LOVE HP, but I'm holding off on them for my ds. I know that certain things will definitely bother him. For example, in book 5, it would really upset him that Harry feels like he has to take the abuse from Umbridge and doesn't want to tell anybody (the detentions where he carves in the back of his hand.) I think things like that would actually bother him MORE than the war/multiple deaths in book 7. I want my kids to love HP as much as I do, so I hesitate handing them over before they are ready (and my ds isn't right now. But like I said, this would depend on the kid.)

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You all are voicing the arguments going on in my head. At the least, I've decided to read the book myself. Now, hopefully, the book won't develop legs and walk right into his room. With the rest of the books, I read 1-3 way back when they came out. Number 4, I had not read. But all along as my son read, I got a play by play update. I think he has spent more time telling me about the books then the time it has actually taken for him to read them.

 

And I had thought about the problem with the "professors" at Hogwarts for his correspondence school. I'm sure I can adjust somehow.

 

I asked him how he felt about the ending of book 4 and he looked at me like I had two heads. I rephrased and asked, did the ending upset you? "Mom, it is just a book!" Oh, and you really believe owls are delivering magic lessons from Hogwarts! :lol:

 

Again, thanks. I'll read it and revisit the argument in my head later.

 

Oh, and thanks for the Common Sense Media suggestion - I hadn't heard of that one before.

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You've gotten a variety of answers, I'm sure (I haven't read them all), and it really depends on the kid.

I haven't let Link read them yet. We're holding off for awhile, even though the first books in particular aren't bad - I just know that once he starts them he'll want to finish them. :)

I also think that they are better in book form at a younger age than in movie form, but I can't remember exactly. I haven't read the books recently, whereas I saw the movies when they came out and... well, I just felt like some of the scenes of the last movies were pretty rough.

I think that we'll probably do HP as read alouds at some point - just not sure when yet. And I may let Link start them at one age, but not necessarily Astro - each kid is different, kwim?

Sorry I'm not much help! I do LOVE HP though!

Edited by PeacefulChaos
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Guest Savoir Faire

We originally thought the same as you, OP, for Harry Potter. Only a few of the books.

 

But....there was NO WAY the kids were not going to find out what happened. We listened to the entire series on book on tape in the car. We were all hooked.

 

At the time, my son was 5 (turned 6 during) and my daughter was 7. I do not consider either of them to be *tough* kids. They listened to the entire series on tape with absolutely no problems.

 

We finally decided to let them see all the movies (they had seen up to Order of the Phoenix). One rule was that if we said "cover your eyes!" you better do it.

 

Honestly, if your child loves the books...I'd give it a chance. It was so awesome to actually read/hear/watch the series from beginning to end.

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I always said not before 8 for 4 and up. Then he got to the end of 3 and was so keen I let him read 4. Then he rolled through to 5 and... on and... he was finished, lol!

 

He was allowed to watch each movie as he finished the books. He's not a kid who gets scared by make believe though, so he was ok with it all. He talked a lot about some of the themes and ideas presented to him in the stories - it was interesting to see him process it.

 

So I think it depends on the kid :001_smile:

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Did you know that the author wouldn't let her child start reading the series until she was 10? I think that speaks volumes about an age level on a book. My 11 year old has read Book 1 & we're currently reading Book 2. We'll get to Book 3 next year & depending on how quick we get through it possibly Book 4. Slow & steady works. ;)

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My 7yo started reading the first book maybe 6 months ago and gave the book back to me about 20 minutes later. "This is too scary!" (It is now in the box in my closet, right next to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also deemed Too Scary.) He is a very easily-freaked-out kid, though.

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In your case, OP, I think I would go ahead and let him finish. The interest is high, he doesn't seem sensitive, and Dad already said he could. I really don't see it as a HUGE deal.

 

In my case, we are waiting. There are so many other good books that were actually written for their age. Reading HP now wouldn't hurt anything, but neither will waiting. I know that they will get much more out of them by waiting until they are 10-12. No biggie for your son, he will just reread them most likely.

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My DS will be 7 next month and just recently started book 1 on his own. He's been wanting to read it (and/or have ME read it to him) but I told him I wanted him to wait until he was ready to read it. Last month, he decided that he was ready. He's seen the movies already (except movie 7 - he would be fine with seeing it, he just hasn't), but with the books, he will progress much more slowly. At this point, he's only reading about a chapter a week, so I am hoping it will take him a while to get through each book anyway if he's reading in smaller chunks like this. I am letting him pace it himself though, so he might even decide NOT to move on to book 2 when he's finished, and that's totally fine ;)

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I made my son wait to read it until he was 9 (actually, he got the whole set for Christmas, just one month before turning 9). I thought that he would let the books stretch out for a while, and I really expected him to run out of steam around book 5.

 

He read the whole series in just a few months. ;) (That's my boy!)

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To update on my previous post... DS9 was pretty crushed by the ending of book 5. I told him that it does turn out ok in the end, but that the last two books do have important characters that die, and that I won't give him specifics (he could peek on his own, of course, but I don't think that's occurred to him).

 

He's chosen to re-read 1-5 instead of going on directly to 6 and 7. I don't know how long it will be before he decides he's ready for the rest.

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A few years back, I remember Nancy Pearl addressing this topic in her book, "Book Crush."

I also remember reading an article, in which J.K. Rowling recommended children begin reading HP at the age of 11yo (The same age HP is when the story begins.)

Then progress through the series with one new book each year. The idea was to have the reader "grow up" alongside HP.

John Granger aka Hogwarts Professor addresses questions parents have about HP on his website http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com

Warm Regards,

Kathy

:001_smile:

I love this idea..

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