What is the right age for Harry Potter?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember settling in on the couch during my last week of pregnancy and reading the final Harry Potter, non-stop, cover to cover. The day after I finished the book series was the day my first child came into the world. So it seems very fitting that at the age of 8, my daughter is now enjoying the Harry Potter series like I did.
My daughter has become a voracious reader and has been plowing thru the book series. Unfortunately, she has been reading it a lot fasted then I expected. She is already on book four, “The Goblet of Fire.” This one really started to deal with much darker themes and I’m not sure if she is ready for it.
According to commonsensemedia.org, “Goblet of Fire,” is really more appropriate for a 9 or ten year old. So that leaves me to think, “What should I do?” Do I discourage her from reading the next book? Do I let her read it and see what happens? What, if any, kind of effects will this have on her development? Apparently, I am not the only one that has considered this because there are several book about the psychology of Harry Potter. This fascinates me, but that’s a conversation for another day.
I’m finding it difficult to walk the line between keeping my little girl “little” and exposing her to themes that I know are coming down the road anyway. Nine is the start of the “tween” years, where children have almost crawled out of their baby-shelled shelf, but are not quite fully ready to embrace a teens need to grow up so fast. The later Harry Potter book deal with death and darkness, violence and neglect. But on the flip side it also shows resilience and friendship, sacrifice and belief in others. Most of all the idea that love conquers all, even the big bad guy.
I know she will encounter these ideas in other areas of life. But in a world that wants my daughter to grow up faster then she is ready for. Where radio song with inappropriate lyrics are market to her. Where TV shows and ads can’t be left on because they sell products my daughter doesn’t need to know about or depict young woman in an overly sexualized way. A world that pays no mind to her innocents and sweet nature. I am reluctant to rush into things.
Thankfully, Harry Potter doesn’t present things in the inappropriate, callus way radio and TV often do. I guess the question is really about the comfort level of you and your child with the darker themes. I don’t know many 7-8 year old’s who are mature enough to understand the darker themes of the later books without being a bit scared.
This along with the fact that my daughter is not at an age to fully understand the greater positive themes, the ones that counter balance the darker parts of the story. Until she has a better understanding of this, I think I will wait a few years and hold on to her childhood innocent a while longer.
*** After the writing of this post I found a great podcast dealing with this topic. To check it out go to The Simple Show Podcast and click on episode 25. Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please leave me a comment below.