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I plan to get my child (7-8 YO) introduced to Harry Potter books (specifically, the first one - "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone").

It is definitely within the language level that is comfortable for the child, and likely he will be able to read large parts of it himself, although I may read parts aloud as well.

However, I think that the books is intended for a slightly older age (protagonist is 11YO) and is in an environment that is somewhat alien (I'm talking about boarding school, not magic :)

What are the main things that I should be aware of/prepared when the child reads the book or has it read to him?

What topics/points/themes would it be helpful to discuss, either in advance of reading the book, or as we read?

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    You say you think the books are intended for a slightly older age, but it is my firm conviction that children will want to read about kids slightly senior to them. – SQB Sep 5 '14 at 6:19
  • Reading with your kids is a fantastic thing to do. It's great bonding time, it gives them the ability to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time, it builds imagination. You'll see the imagination when they see a movie after reading the book. They'll tell you all the things that are wrong in the movie, because they've seen it differently in their heads. – Marc Sep 6 '14 at 18:36
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Remember that the books were meant to go along at a one year pace. Harry was 11 in the first book as a first year student. Each of the following books represents another year at school and another year older.

I would try to follow that pace with your child if possible to help with the growing pains and learning curves. By the third book Harry is a teenager so there may be some concepts that your 7-8 year old may not be ready for

  • A downvote with no comment? Very constructive – Brian Robbins Sep 15 '14 at 16:54
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    I believe Rowling actually said she wanted her characters to grow with their readers which means the final book is intended for 17 year old's. – Wayne Oct 14 '14 at 20:19
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There's actually a fantastic article about this the NYTimes, though for a 5 year old so some themes might not apply, but I'd encourage you to take a look:

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/child-proofing-harry-potter/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  1. Harry Potter deals with death, directly, and quite a bit. I don't know if or how you've introduced the permanence of death to your child, but remember the point of the entire seven book series is that Harry and Voldemort are going to kill each other because Voldemort kills people. I'd imagine there should be some sort of discussion around this depending on background.

  2. There is a lot of impact of prejudice in the book. Over at fantasy.SE every once in a while some asks "Why do the Dursleys do X to Harry?" when the answer is generally just blind hatred. And then of course there's the whole born of wizards versus non-wizards issue. Fortunately, there's a pretty clear stance that prejudice is bad (a stance not quite taken with murder as above) but you might want to bring this up.

  3. As you get into latter books, hormones start coming up. Just keep an eye out for that. I think they weren't really a big deal until the fourth book (Goblet of Fire).

  4. Harry Potter just happens to be, well, rich. There's certain actions Harry can take with regard to finances that aren't necessarily the most responsible for other people. Of course, outside the wizarding world he isn't particularly wealthy, so he tends to model good behaviors here, but depending on your stances on the value and purpose of money and generosity this might bare discussion as well.

  5. Harry Potter exists in nearly a binary good/evil universe that lacks many of the complexities of real life. While not all the characters are immediately clear as good or evil, they all end up to be pretty much one way or another in the end. If you aren't teaching absolute morality, or, even more likely, absolute morality of the exact same ilk as wizards, you might run into some problems here.

  6. Every once in a while some decided to try and get the books banned for whatever reason. Make sure you're aware of the reasons and issues affecting this ban. I'm just going to throw Huffington Post at this and walk away since I'm nowhere near as informed or eloquent as professional journalists:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deji-olukotun/the-banning-of-harry-pott_b_1864502.html

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    I disagree with point 5. It sure looks like it in the first book, but as we move along (beware: spoilers!), we find out Snape is reluctantly good, while still mean. The Marauders are revealed to have been bullying jocks at times, and even Dumbledore is shown as having made bad decisions because he puts his personal desires ahead of what was right. – SQB Sep 5 '14 at 6:14
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    Also, on point 4, while Harry is indeed rich, his close friend Ron's family, the Weasley family, is actually a bit poor. This contrast and the issues it causes are dealt with in the books. – SQB Sep 5 '14 at 6:16
  • @SQB On (5): Eventually everyone sides with Voldemort or not. In that sense, it's black and white. There are more complexities in latter books however. On (4): The Weasleys are a powerful example of a working family, but even they have gainful employment. – Calvin Sep 8 '14 at 14:44
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    @Calvin ON (5): As the story progresses the Malfoy's break that mold. They do not want to be involved and only keep participating out of a feeling of helplessness and being trapped by previous decisions. – Wayne Oct 14 '14 at 20:25

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