Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waiting for Harry Potter

For my darling 7-year old stepdaughter, I’m doing something I’ve never done during an entire lifetime of obsessive reading.

I’m waiting for her to grow up so I can finish a book series.

See, together we’ve gotten hooked on Harry Potter. I’m late to the Potter Party. When everyone else was reading the books and standing in line for the first movie showings and putting posters on their walls, I was keeping my distance from the whole phenomenon. First of all, I wanted to make sure J.K. Rowling finished all the books before I got totally addicted. Besides, I grew up with the great British children’s authors like E. Nesbit and C.S. Lewis and didn’t think she could possibly compete (got that one wrong!) And then it became a point of pride --- I was possibly the only person in the English-speaking world who hadn’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies.

Turns out, I was waiting for the perfect moment, which came when the kiddo got into the books. I’ve had the incredible pleasure of reading the first three books out loud to her, experiencing them for the first time along with her. I’ve forced myself to put the book down when it’s time for her to sleep. I’ve exercised gargantuan willpower in not reading ahead. I’ve refused to watch each movie until I’ve finished its book. And I’ve been drawn into this fascinating, intricate, wonderful world of magic the way a child would be, seeing everything through her eyes, feeling her anticipation, her emotions, the immense satisfaction the stories bring.

In Hawaii we finished Book 3, “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” the morning my stepdaughter went back to Alaska. Afterwards, I drove past the library, my fingers itching to swing the steering wheel into the parking lot so I could snatch up Book 4. But I’ve been told it’s a little intense for a nearly 8-year old. So even though I’m a hopeless book addict and usually read through the night if I’m deep into a story, and know I would gobble it up like a binge eater at a buffet, I’m refraining. I’ll wait until she gets a little bit older so we can indulge ourselves together.

So what do you think? Can an eight-year old handle Book 4, “The Goblet of Fire”? She’ll turn eight in two and a half months. I'm fairly sure I can wait that long. Or am I overthinking this? Should we head down to the library this second and check it out?  Because I will. Say the word and I’ll be after Book 4 like a Quidditch seeker after the Golden Snitch.

Hey, a Harry Potter reference! That felt good.


daydrmzzz said...

Juniper I think it depends on the kid. My niece started to read them at age eight on her own and she loved them. It took her over 2 years to finish all the books but she was very happy with them and her parents had no problems with her reading them. I didn't read these books but the hubs did and he was fine with her reading them but my nephew age 10 is just now starting them and they are too advanced for him. So I'm back to where I started... it depends on the kid.

flchen1 said...

It depends on the kid... I did the same thing--I waited and waited and refused to let any of the kids read them on their own (totally mean and unfair, I KNOW!) until my youngest (who is 6 1/2) jumped the gun and borrowed the first book from the library.

So, in from November to January, we read the whole series aloud. The older ones (8 1/2, 11 1/2) LOVED it and desperately wanted to read ahead on their own, but I insisted that we do it together--it was especially hard since I hadn't read books 5-7 myself yet ;) To be honest, I think a bunch of it went right over the youngest's head, but I felt a lot better being able to editorialize a little and gauge their reactions to what was happening as I read.

I've heard that the audio books are amazing, so you might consider listening to those together and seeing how that goes?

Good luck, Juniper!!

Meg Benjamin said...

I didn't make it through Harry Potter with my boys, but I remember having to sit on my hands to keep from reading ahead in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Takes supreme will power, I know!

Erin Nicholas said...

I completely agree about it depending on the kid. My daughter and niece both read them at about age 8 and loved them and handled them fine.

They really are fantastic! So glad you discovered them (btw, don't listen to PG)


Kelly Jamieson said...

My daughter was 11 when the first Harry Potter book came out (which is how old Harry was). My son was 8. He and I read the first one together, but after that he took off on his own and absolutely loved them. As the books came out (and the movies) my daughter aged at the same pace and was the same age as Harry in the last book - (until the epilogue) which was very cool! And yes, we were the ones lining up at midnight for our advance ordered copy. Or should I say copies, because neither kid was willing to wait for the other one to finish, so we had to buy 2! (Mom had to wait)

Kate Davies said...

My eight year old is reading book four right now, and loving it. I agree, some of the more intense stuff will go right over their heads in a book, in a way it maybe doesn't in a movie. My middle child, now almost 11, read Twilight a while back and was re-reading the last book before seeing the movie (which we still haven't done. The girls are OVER the Twilight phenom, but don't want to skip the last movies in spite of that), and she was appalled at some of the stuff in it. "How could you let me read that?" I asked her if she had understood any of that the first time she read it. She said no. My comment? "Exactly." (In fact, I'm pretty sure most of it is STILL going over her head, LOL.)