Advice Needed from Harry Potter Fans

Happy October! I’ll get my September round-up posted soon, but this felt more urgent: we are nurturing a serious Harry Potter obsession around here and I’m looking for advice.

I feel like I am one of the few avid readers who has not read the full Harry Potter series. I read the first two on my own, years ago, and then I decided to wait to read the rest with my kids.

Well, that time has come. My oldest daughter is six, and we’ve just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We also watched the first two movies in the past week. I think she was a little lost when we read the first book (I may have started too early), but she follows the story now and is a full-on superfan.

She spent the weekend constructing Hogwarts out of blocks and sorting all of her toys into their houses (Little People and My Little Ponies alike. Most My Little Ponies are Hufflepuffs, naturally.). She wants to be Hermione for Halloween.

Of course, I am loving this. I see Harry Potter doing for her what it’s done for so many young readers: create a love of story and a fascination with the worlds that can be opened by reading.

But here is my dilemma: we may have reached our limit of “scary” for right now. She loves the stories and the movies, but they do affect her and she needs reassurance that Voldemort isn’t in our basement.

She is still smiling when she asks this and I’m not too concerned about the depth of her fear, but I’ve heard that the books after the first two just get scarier. We’re reading the illustrated versions, and the third one happens to come out this week—good timing if we want to keep going, but I’m considering stretching it out—at least until Christmas. The illustrated versions seem to be coming out each year, so if we keep up with those we’ll naturally stretch out our reading.

Readers, what do you think? Do I keep the enthusiasm going and get the third book now? How about the books after that—is six too young?

Finally, any other books you recommend for read-alouds at this age? We’ve started reading The Land of Stories but I don’t know much about it yet. She enjoyed The Magic Treehouse series for a while, but I think they feel a little too formulaic after the rich world of Hogwarts.

Advice Needed from Harry Potter Fans

7 thoughts on “Advice Needed from Harry Potter Fans

  1. That’s awesome your daughter loves Harry Potter! You’ll probably be fine reading the third book to her, but it definitely gets MUCH darker in the fourth book. The Prisoner of Azkaban(#3) also has the dementors, which might be a little creepy.

    • Thank you! Maybe I’ll hold off until Christmas and then try to stretch it out a bit. It sounds like the dementors could be added to our list of “basement fears,” so there’s no harm in waiting.

  2. I LOVE that your daughter sorted her toys into the Hogwarts houses! As a librarian, the age-appropriateness of Harry Potter comes up a lot, and I think it may be a good idea to wait a little while before continuing on with the series. The third book introduces the dementors (they can suck your soul from your body) and the fourth book is when people start dying… In the meantime, I’d recommend two magical series: The Castle Glower series, by Jessica Day George and the Upside Down Magic series, by Sarah Mlynowski.

    • Really good to know, thank you! The great part is that she has really gotten into the groove of sitting and reading with me for long stretches of time and now seems open to new series. I’ll definitely check these out!

  3. How fun to share the magic of Hogwarts with your little one, Allison!! I read them to my kiddos when they were young as well. We just finished #7 this past summer (kids were 9 and 7 at the time). Honestly, I wanted to wait until they were older for two reasons: 1. I know they missed some of the themes and deeper issues. 2. They definitely get darker as they go. (#3 has dementors and a werewolf.) The main reason I continued was I just knew their friends were going to let some big secrets slip!! Not everyone is as obsessive about keeping spoilers to themselves as I am, apparently. 😉 Also, they really didn’t seem too bothered by the scarier stuff.

    We read the regular books. Are the illustrated books different? I have friends who have read those as well, and I’ve always wondered!!

    I love the suggestions you’ve already received—adding them to our list, too! Another great series with magical elements to explore for younger ones is The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve wanted to read some of E. Nesbit’s books with the kids. They’ve enjoyed the sections they’ve read in grammar and writing. Also, I love E. B. White’s books! We read those (Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web) when mine were super young and they LOVED them all! One more we read early was The Wind in the Willows. The writing is a bit more descriptive and drawn out in some ways, but my kids loved it because of the whimsical characters!

    Happy, magical reading!!

  4. Great to know–thanks, Joy! I think I’ll start slowly at Christmas and follow her lead. She has started talking to older friends who have read Harry Potter but I don’t think she’s been too spoiled so far. And it’s all new territory for me after book 2!

    I think I heard that the text in the illustrated books is the UK version, but I’m not sure how much that differs from the US–there were a few times I changed the words a bit so she would understand (e.g., “post” vs. “mail”), but maybe I’d have had to do that with the US version as well?

    She loved Charlotte’s Web! E.B. White is a great idea, as is Narnia. Thanks!

  5. How exciting that your daughter is getting into HP! I’m planning to give the first two illustrated editions in the series to my six-year-old nephew this Christmas and I’m so excited for him to discover the HP universe.

    Personally, I think the third book is the least scary of all of them because Voldemort doesn’t really make an appearance. For me, the fourth and sixth books (and their movie versions) were the scariest because I am TERRIFIED of underwater creatures. The fourth book/movie has creepy mermaids and the sixth book/movie has zombies that live in an underground lake. That scene still gets me even after seeing it so many times. But if your daughter made it through the second book/movie, which I think is definitely one of the scarier ones, then I think the third one is probably fine. The dementors are kind of creepy but it’s all about what scares her personally. I didn’t find them that even remotely scary compared to the basilisk but everyone’s different.

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