The most popular children’s books. Ever. The boy wizard who charmed the world. Hardly needs recommending, right?
J.K. Rowling has created an amazing world and my boys love romping through her playground. But the series is a great example of books that get more mature as you go through.
For this blog, I dug out my ragged cheat sheet on the Harry Potter series, scarred with scratched out notes saying “TOO MATURE” and “WITH MOM FOR NOW”. So here’s the Ink Spells take on the boy-who-lived and the books large enough to choke Hungarian Horntail.
Harry Potter and the . . .
|Bk 1: Sorcerer’s Stone||5.5||9+||G||Peril of characters|
|Bk 2: Chamber of Secrets||6.7||9+||PG||Peril of characters|
|Bk 3: Prisoner of Azkaban||6.7||9+||PG||Peril of characters|
|Bk 4: Goblet of Fire||6.8||10+||PG||Death of character, Puppy Love|
|Bk 5: Order of the Phoenix||7.2||10+||PG||Mild torture, a chaste kiss|
|Bk 6: Half Blood Prince||7.2||11+||PG||Death of major character, snogging|
|Bk 7: Deathly Hallows||6.9||12+||PG||Characters injured, tortured and killed|
RL = reading level (grade.month)
CSM = Common Sense Media rating
The First Three Books
This is one of the few times I will disagree with Common Sense Media‘s assessment, because they are usually spot on. However, the first 3 HP books are substantially more light-hearted, gee-wizard fun than the later, darker and more sexually aware books. In fact, I think books 1-3 are fine for kids as young as 8, possibly younger if they are not too sensitive to scary spiders and three-headed dogs and the like. Younger advanced readers will find them a nice challenge, with reading levels several grades ahead.
The Second Three Books
At Goblet of Fire, the books take a darker turn – a child character dies, and there is the suggestion of puppy-love as the characters grow older. Order of the Phoenix is positively chilling in its depiction of the handwriting torture session by a creepily evil teacher and there is the beginning of snogging (kissing). The Half Blood Prince, recently shown in theatres in a substantial turn to the dark side in the movie version, is also more violent. It has full-blown teen-pining for the opposite sex plus the death of a major character that younger readers might find upsetting. For these reasons, books 4-6 are best saved for kids 10 and over, where they have more maturity to deal with these subjects. At age 10, these books are still sophisticated enough to be challenging reads.
The Deathly Hallows is in a league by itself. I gaze at the size of that book, a full 2 inches thick, and I’m tempted to quote Darth Vader. Impressive. Most impressive.
If your kid’s not scared off by the size alone, you should still urge them to wait until they are 12 to attack it. It is the darkest of the books, with mental, emotional and physical violence that can be wrenching to read, especially when it happens to beloved characters. There is more teenage love, but the main reason to hold off on Deathly Hallows until 12 is the level of violence. That said, it is a wonderful book your children will love when they are ready for it. At twelve, the technical reading level will not challenge your child, but understanding the deeper allegories, especially to Britain in World War II, will bring a richness to their reading that goes beyond the wizarding world.
We’ve jumped right in with our first review, but there is much more than just reviews to Ink Spells. In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about kids and ratings, reading levels and book candy, and much more. Stay tuned!