An Agony Aunt Literary Question (and a Harry Potter Poll)

Ever since I discovered I was pregnant, a few years go, some dreams I never knew I had came forward in my mind: the child (a still gender-neutral concept at that time) and me at bedtime reading stories, the child and me perusing books in colorful kid sections of libraries and bookshops… Some people dream of taking their future child to Disneyland, I dreamt of a shopping trip together to W.H.Smith at Concorde.

Some dreams were more detailed, and perhaps every book-inclined parent has the same: a kind of list of books we would read to him. I’m not sure what books Mr. Smithereens has in mind, but I was early on sure of a few titles. One day I would try to read Baby Smithereens Tolkien’s Hobbit, because my father had read it aloud to me at bedtime when I was in primary school (even though I could read, I was too young to be able to concentrate on big adult books). And perhaps The Lord of the Ring as well, unless Baby Smithereens would prefer reading it himself.

And Harry Potter too. Hearing about other mothers who happily shared a passion for Potter with their offsprings, I thought that we would read the Harry Potter books together, even though I never read it myself. Yes, I ‘fess up: except for the movies (and not all of them), I’m still a kind-of Harry Potter virgin.

Fast forward 2-3 years, my dreams remain. Baby Smithereens loves books, has never tried to tear pages off (even if he did try to taste paper when little) and whenever his monthly magazine arrives in the post, he’s overjoyed. He’s still way too young for The Hobbit, his heroes are Elmo, Noddy and the likes. But the interest in books is already there.

Yet, I’m getting itchy on the Harry Potter question, especially when I (can’t help but) watch the images of the latest HP movie. They seem so dark, violent, and adult (the movie is rated PG, after all). Is that really something I want to read to or with him? How long should we wait? At what age is it better to start the saga and how soon should we move from one episode to the next? Wouldn’t it be better if I read it all first, so that I would be a better judge of when Smithereens Junior will be able to enjoy it?

I’m looking forward to hearing advice from parents, Harry Potter readers, or both! (and I sure wanted to experiment with the poll gizmo as well ;)!)


5 thoughts on “An Agony Aunt Literary Question (and a Harry Potter Poll)

  1. I’ve read all the HP books and they do get darker and more violent the further you go. I don’t have children so I can’t say when a good time is to introduce the book. So I voted in your pole to read them first and then decide 🙂

  2. I read the first Harry Potter book to my daughter when she was 6. She didn’t like it and does not want me to read the rest to her. I read the Hobbit to her when she was four- which I think is much more hard going and scary- and she loved. You just can’t tell what they’ll like, I fear.

  3. My son wasn’t interested in Harry Potter at all until he was 8 or so. Then he watched the first film and enjoyed it. And after that we gradually worked out way through the books, and he got older as they grew darker. I think it’s best to share books when the child is really going to understand and enjoy them. They are capable of reading harder books than they can understand, if you see what I mean. My son loved HP lots more because he could follow everything that was going on, get all the jokes, and so on. Poor Smithereens, though, it means you might have to wait a bit! But if you get impatient, read them for yourself. It might make the pleasure of sharing them with him later even more.

  4. I have a friend whose son started reading Harry Potter when he was about six. They read them and listened to them together. He eagerly awaited book number six (which I have yet to read. I’ve only read four. I’m a bit of a Harry Potter virgin myself), which came out when he was about nine, I think. He read the whole thing, but was a bit subdued by it, and then (according to his mother) shelved it and did not reread/visit it the way he did the others until he was a few years older. Meanwhile, my niece grew up with Harry Potter (the first one was released in the U.S. when she was ten), and she eagerly awaited each new volume and loved them all the way through. Perhaps a good age to start them would be around nine? I think the publishers made a mistake in allowing them to get darker as they went along, because it was a fine publishing ploy (and a unique one, really) when kids were getting older with each new release, but now that they’ve all been published, I would think it’s kind of hard to tell a seven year old who loves the first two or three that he/she needs to wait a few years to read others in the series. When I think of the series I enjoyed as a child, I would have hated it if someone had come along and told me I couldn’t read everything published. Still, I think kids are their own best censors and will put down what really disturbs them (like my friend’s son), so maybe it’s fine if a nine year old reads them all. Nonetheless, I voted that you ought to read them all first and then decide.

  5. I have no real advice, as I’m faced with the same dilemma. Waiting. There are so many great books I can’t wait to share with Mlle. Petitvore, and she loves our reading time already, but obviously she’s still on babybooks. It’s so hard to be patient!
    But I would definitely say to read the HP books on your own, now. Rereading them will be a lot of fun, and you’ll forget a lot by then.

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