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Potter Mania

You might say that my sons were born to read Harry Potter. After all, their dad read them (and me) the Harry Potter books while I was pregnant. And now, as the last, long chapter of the series is about to hit our doorstep, I'm wondering when to start reading the first book aloud to eldest son. Plus, our neighborhood bookstore is hosting a Potter celebration tonight that I'm sure he'll love.

There's been a lot of debate this week about the value of Harry. Has he worked magic beyond his wand by encouraging children to read books? Or is he a one-trick wonder ... once the series is done, kids will stop reading books?

So, in honor of J.K. Rowling; in honor of a book phenomenon in an age where more visual media rule; in honor of tomorrow's release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- for most of us -- let's talk Potter today. How has he affected your family's reading? And what are your and your kids' plans tonight and this weekend?

More on Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hub | Closing the Book

Update: Easy Bake Ovens, which had been recalled in February, are back on the recall list. The Consumer Products Safety Commission is urging parents to return the toy ovens to Hasbro for a voucher for another product. Since the first recall, nearly 250 kids have been reported to have gotten their fingers caught in the oven's opening. The result: 77 burns.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Tweens
Previous: Will Barbie Recover? | Next: The Circumcision Snip

Comments


Lamest topic ever.

Dunno. Don't care.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I definitely think there have been some very positive effects from the Harry Potter books in terms of encouraging elementary aged kids to read. Stacey is absolutely right to point out that most hot crazes for kids these days are more visual-media-centric, so a book craze in my mind is great. My own kids are too young (toddlers), but I have observed many of my nieces/nephews and friends' kids benefitting from these books. I've also observed that due to the length of all the books, they have fostered other positive traits in kids relating to patience and sticking to something (even if it takes a long time). I certainly will encourage these books as reading material when my kids get a little older, and I also hope that another book fad like this will hit in about 6 years when my kids are ready to be part of it. In the meantime, I can't wait to start reading Deathly Hallows this weekend myself.

Posted by: Jen | July 20, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

The suggestion that the Harry Potter books have raised reading rates among children and adolescents evidently is something of a myth. I listened to the BBC's World Update this morning as I was driving into the office. Dan Damon closed out the show with a discussion of the Potter phenomenon, and the issue of how the books have affected reading rates. It seems that in Britain, at least, reading rates among school children have continued to decline in spite of Harry Potter's popularity. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted to think that these really cool books might have had some sort of positive impact.

Posted by: Murphy | July 20, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Look up the definition of FAD!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I can't say whether or not the Harry Potter series encouraged children to read or not, but I can say that the series encourage ME (the parent, albeit a bookworm parent) to read more children's books. From HP, I've discovered other interesting novels: the Dark Materials (Philip Pullman) series; the Magyk/Septimus Heap (Angie Sage) series; the Bartimaeus trilogy (Jonathan Stroud); The Penderwick Family (Jeanne Birdsall).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

My 19-year-old daughter has read every Harry Potter book. We couldn't pry the books from her hands. She will be in line at midnight tonight for the latest book. My 15-year-old daughter has only read the first three. She takes much longer to read the books. She has really only read them because of the encouragement (nagging) of her older sister. Even with the nagging, she hasn't read all of the books in the series. The younger is actually the brighter of the two, but she doesn't enjoy reading as much. She prefers magazines and short stories to novels. My older daughter doesn't go anywhere without a book.

Children who love to read will read. Those who don't may never develop a love for reading. It's the children in the middle who may develop the love after a book like Harry Potter captures their interest.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I was teaching 9th grade English when Year 5 came out. My impression was that the children reading Harry Potter were mostly "readers" already, and at that were predominantly white and middle class. It may be that it boosts the reading of novels among that demographic group (or science fiction/fantasy) but I still get the impression that reading is generally on the decline. Certainly it is moving from professional media (newspapers, magazines, novels) to amature media (blogs, myspace, etc). The emphasis on visuals also has boosted comic books.

One thing I've seen hopes of, though, is a boost in the production of young adult literature by publishers. Maybe with this new openness we will see more stories that can capture the interest of those who are more often struggling readers.

Posted by: David S | July 20, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Water seeks its own level.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"It seems that in Britain, at least, reading rates among school children have continued to decline in spite of Harry Potter's popularity"

--------------

True, but at least one interpretation of the statistics is this: Reading rates have been declining at exponential levels. Yes, reading rates are still taking a downturn, but the downturn they would've taken without the HP books would've been more severe.

My personal analogy? HP is like a Band-Aid on a nicked artery.

Back to something Stacey asked that I'm also curious about: I haven't read any of the books, but I know the earlier ones are lighter than the later, darker ones. At what age would you suggest reading them aloud to a relatively mature kid? Age 6? Age 7? Younger? Older? Thanks for any advice.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I have a related question - my girls are too young for Harry Potter (though I love it). If your kids can't read it yet, are you allowing them to watch any of the movies? I don't want to for two reasons - 1 - the book is original and I don't want her to read the book based on the movie. Even if it's not, she may percieve it that way. And 2 - even the first one is too scary for her still.

Thoughts on books vs movie first?

Posted by: inBoston | July 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I will be at Barnes and Noble tonight with my 9 and 11 year old to buy the Harry Potter book at midnight. My 11 year old daughter LOVES them and has really gotten her to love reading (not so much my 9 year old son.) We will then get up early tomorrow and read it aloud so that parents and kids get to the ending at the same time. We will probably do a marathon Saturday-Sunday reading because we are afraid that some newspaper or news channel will give away the ending before we're done.

I find the backlash against the Harry Potter books to be odd. If it gets kids (and adults) reading at least these books, why is that a bad thing? I'd rather them be excited about a new book coming out then about another horrible Shrek movie opening.

Posted by: Steve | July 20, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The books are way better than the movies (as usual). As far as what age to allow your children to begin reading the books, take this into consideration. The books have a more mature style as they progress each year Harry is at Hogwarts. I have heard that Rowling said the reading level of the book goes up each year as Harry gets older. The later books do deal with more mature subjects such as death, first crush, choosing good over evil, etc. You should take your child's maturity level and personality into consideration when deciding when to allow them to read them. I would suggest reading them yourself first to determine what is best for your child. They are great books that deal with interesting subjects. IMO, the main theme in the series is Harry coming to terms with who he is and what type of person he wants to become. I enjoy reading the books (they are addictive!) and am looking forward to reading the last one.

Posted by: HP Fan | July 20, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Well, my daughter is 16 now, and I read the books 'cause I got them for her. I'm so very hooked. She never even read the first 4. I, however, will read the entire series from book 1 each time a new book comes out. Yes, I just re-read the first 6 books, and can't wait to read the last.

I don't think the movies are appropriate for little kids - the book series, and the movies especially, are very dark. While these are "children's" books, the adults in our house are way more addicted. Though, I've seen teenage boys lay down a baseball bat to read when a new book came out.

All told, I'm glad I'm on vacation this coming week - as Monday will be Harry Potter reading day.

Posted by: HP Lover | July 20, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Steve

"I will be at Barnes and Noble tonight with my 9 and 11 year old to buy the Harry Potter book at midnight. My 11 year old daughter LOVES them and has really gotten her to love reading (not so much my 9 year old son.) We will then get up early tomorrow and read it aloud so that parents and kids get to the ending at the same time. We will probably do a marathon Saturday-Sunday reading because we are afraid that some newspaper or news channel will give away the ending before we're done. "

Put all this time and effort into something that REALLY matters! Good grief!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Steve

"I will be at Barnes and Noble tonight with my 9 and 11 year old to buy the Harry Potter book at midnight. My 11 year old daughter LOVES them and has really gotten her to love reading (not so much my 9 year old son.) We will then get up early tomorrow and read it aloud so that parents and kids get to the ending at the same time. We will probably do a marathon Saturday-Sunday reading because we are afraid that some newspaper or news channel will give away the ending before we're done. "

Put all this time and effort into something that REALLY matters! Good grief!

I hate these save the world posters. THAT is important to them and is something shared. Go and have fun good luck!!!!!!!!

Posted by: pATRICK | July 20, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm 53. My daughter is 22 and just graduated from college. We are both HUGE HP fans. One of her graduation gifts was a the black HP T-shirt "I solemly swear I'm up to no good". We will both be on line tonight at 12pm waiting with all the "other kids". She'll be in Northern CA...I'll be in Southern CA...and we'll both be happy campers all weekend :-)
P.S.....She's working toward her PhD in English Lit. (*yes I'm proud)

Posted by: TJFRMLA | July 20, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Put all this time and effort into something that REALLY matters! Good grief!"

Yeah, you're right. Why should we be reading together as a family, and having my kids excited about reading, when there are so many video games and TV shows just waiting to be watched? Your inane comment just proves my point. Thanks!

P.S. Thanks, pATRICK!!!

Posted by: Steve | July 20, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

WHO are these adults that read these books? I've perused them and found them to be - children's lit. Great for kids, not anyone with a reading level beyond 10th grade. Is there not enough good adult lit. for people out there?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I have never posted but I can't resist with this topic. Harry Potter books definitely turned my 15 year old (probably 12 when she read the first one)into a reader. It is a whole family event-my oldest(19) got us all hooked. I don't see why anyone would have a problem with anything that is clean, wholesome fun (reading!)for the whole family to enjoy. I am only buying one book so we have worked out a schedule as to who gets to read it first with the promise that no one spills the beans for the last one(me of course!)

Posted by: Mom3girls | July 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Regarding when to start the Harry Potter books. My 7yo is a voracious reader, so I allowed her to read the first the this summer. Book 4 takes a decidedly dark turn & I don't think she's ready for that yet. She'll be allowed to read that one after her birthday next year.

You've gotta look at the kid, their interest, ability and maturity.

Posted by: fresnel77 | July 20, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for the person who just belittled adults who enjoy the Harry Potter books. It's sad that this poster cannot simply enjoy what millions see as a fun read. This individual must be a lot of fun at parties.

Posted by: Steve | July 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"I feel sorry for the person who just belittled adults who enjoy the Harry Potter books. It's sad that this poster cannot simply enjoy what millions see as a fun read. This individual must be a lot of fun at parties. "

pATRICK is one that is a lot of fun at parties!


It's a FAD!!!!!!!

Posted by: Steve | July 20, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"WHO are these adults that read these books? I've perused them and found them to be - children's lit. Great for kids, not anyone with a reading level beyond 10th grade. Is there not enough good adult lit. for people out there?"

Thank you!!! I read the first 2 1/2 books because my daughter loved them and begged me to read them. I also thought that they were good for children, but wasn't much interested for myself. I'd rather just see the movies :). I only read as much as I did because my young teen doesn't want much to do with me anymore, so I was pleased she wanted to include me in her interests. Halfway through the third book when I was losing interest, I asked her to read a book that I enjoyed. She refused to try mine so I figured that left me off the hook for finishing hers.

Posted by: I agree | July 20, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Some people seriously need to get an imagination. I read tons of books, "adult" and "child." It's actually the teen targeted fiction that is the most uninteresting. But then I actually enjoy not being a banality ladden Scrooge. To all the haters - I hope you enjoy your colorless lives, since you obviously have nothing better to do than put down others.

Posted by: Xrys | July 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Steve, don't let the self important gate crashers deter you, enjoy the book and the time with your kids. I loved going to the library with my mom and reading and fortunately so does my daughter, even though she's too young to read -4. Enjoy!

Posted by: pATRICK | July 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"I only read as much as I did because my young teen doesn't want much to do with me anymore, so I was pleased she wanted to include me in her interests. Halfway through the third book when I was losing interest, I asked her to read a book that I enjoyed. She refused to try mine so I figured that left me off the hook for finishing hers. ""

Pathetic parenting, really pathetic!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"I loved going to the library with my mom and reading and fortunately so does my daughter, even though she's too young to read -4."

I taught my kids to learn to read by age 4.
Your daughter is not too young to read.

Posted by: Mona | July 20, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I will not apologize for being an adult who is a HP fan. I'm a reader...always have been. I have an extensive library for "pleasure" getaways of the mind. Everyday life reminds me in so many cruel ways that childhood has past. As I approach the sunset years of my life...I take great solace in the fact that I have not lost the capacity to see the world thru the eyes of the young and innocent. Maybe if more "adults" had this capacity we would not play so fast and loose with war and the future of our world.

Posted by: TJFRMLA | July 20, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"WHO are these adults that read these books? I've perused them and found them to be - children's lit. Great for kids, not anyone with a reading level beyond 10th grade. Is there not enough good adult lit. for people out there?"

Not for anyone with a readling level beyond 10th grade, eh? Please, if the books don't interest you, fine, but don't try to insult the intelligence of those who do like it.

My kids won't be reading HP for quite a few years, but my wife have had great fun reading these books and speculating about what will happen. We eagerly await the final installment

For what it's worth, I was a bit skeptical at first too. All the hype didn't help pique my interest, and the series was at book 6 before I even cracked open the first book. My wife's strong recommendation got me started, and I tore through the first six books in short order. It's a great, imaginative series. Maybe you should do more than peruse the books!

BTW, we have plenty of other lit in the house. Shelves full of books and books and still more books!

Posted by: 37-year old dad | July 20, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"Pathetic parenting, really pathetic!"

Please tell why my parenting is pathetic. Is it because I don't do everything my children want just because they want me to? I attempted something my daughter was interested in. I saw it as each of us expanding our reading to the interests of the other. I did not particularly enjoy the series. I gave it an effort, she did not, so it was not something we were doing together, it was only something I was doing for her. There are plenty of other things I do for her and there are some things we do together. It is ok to have separate interests.

Are you a helicopter parent who does everything for and with your children?

As far as other adults reading HP, I don't get it because I didn't enjoy it. I don't hate them for it and they certainly can read whatever they choose.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I, too, found the writing in the Harry Potter books uninteresting and boring to me as an adult. I tried, but also gave up after the first two. I am not a 'hater', and I have no problem with the millions of adults and kids who like them. I love seeing a popular phenomenom like this that is based on books. However, I much preferred the writing in the Phillip Pullman books, and can't wait for the first film to come out (I believe in December this year).

Posted by: CJB | July 20, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Please tell why my parenting is pathetic."

The tit-for-tat, mental scorekeeping, bean counter attitude sucks.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's something new. Was anyone pissed that the transformers was marketed to kids then had drunken parents and masturbation jokes? We were all set to see it than found out it was pg 13- and for a good reason. They could have made a good pg movie that more kids could go see but no.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Our family are HUGE Harry Potter fans. We love the books and the movies. I just finished re-reading the first 6 books to make sure all of the plot twists are set before number 7 arrives in the mail. My daughter is on book 3. My husband has been busy lately so will be listening to them on CD. My dad has the whole series on his IPod. We also enjoy the movies but the books are definitely better.

My daughter saw the first 3 movies before listening to them being read to her. We wouldn't let her watch movie 4 until she heard book 4 so she knew what would happen (it is a darker film). She'll be reading book 6 for the first time in a few weeks. We didn't let her listen to it on the IPod when it first came out as she was too young.

As for affecting the reading rates. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that reading begins at home. We don't watch TV. Books are a major source of entertainment for us. We don't own a gaming system. My daughter is a voracious reader, has to be yelled at to "put the book down!" She will likely always love books. A good friend of mine is "too tired" to read to her daughter and finds it easier to plunk her in front of ESPN or other commercial television programming. Her daughter doesn't like books much. It gives me pause to watch this but I keep it to myself. To each there own and good luck to you!

To the other HP fans, have a great read; it should be a good one!!

Posted by: 21117 | July 20, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I hope you enjoy your colorless lives, since you obviously have nothing better to do than put down others.
-------------------------------

This adult fascination with these childrens books really shows how pathetic our society has become. Why not break out the Judy Blume while you are at it? I understand reading with your kid - but choosing this independantly? We've got to do a better job with education if there are adults who would choose this over Steinbeck or Fitzgerald who are both so very, very colorless - only if you haven't read them. Let go of your adolescence and be an adult.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Also, on the topic of kids books. Carl Hiaasen has 2 books for the younger audience. Flush and Hoot are among my daughters favorite books. Well worth the read.

Posted by: 21117 | July 20, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Let go of your adolescence and be an adult."

Too much trouble for this bunch!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

i find it interesting that other adults don't find the writing all that good. i love the way jr uses language. the idea of a "howler"; a letter you get when somebody is really really mad at you. it's bright red and burns while the voice of the person who is angry can be heard screaming. her books are full of funny ideas like that.

as for what age is appropriate; i have found that your children are the best guide. if the book is too beyond them they won't read it. a friend's son loved the first 3 hp books. she told me that he lost interest in book 4 as it is the first of her darker books. my son lost interest in the first book so i'm not forcing him. when he's ready he'll pick it up and start reading it again. in some cases, it may only take a few months. i read that jr did not allow her daughter read the books until she was like 9 or 10.

Posted by: quark | July 20, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

First, yes it really galls me that they market PG-13 movies to young children. Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars -- why does it seem to be "boy" movies that they do that with?

I have not read any HP book, nor have my children. Why? Yes, we are conservative Christians, but that's not really the reason. Some Christians I respect say they see no problem with HP, and others do find problems. Mostly, I don't like fantasy/sci fi. I do read quite a bit, but I tend toward historical fiction. Right now I am reading The Known World by Edward P. Jones, and the book before that was Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbreck. My 10 y/o daughter loves to read, but she likes books about girls on the prairie and indian captives. She has just started Witch of Blackbird Pond. My 6 y/o son is also a big reader, but he is into Hardy Boys and, ahem, Calvin and Hobbes.

Admittedly, I tend to be anti-mass media productions, and all the HP hype pretty much ensures that I will go out of my way NOT to read HP. I also have never seen the Titanic. Remember Bridges of Madison County? It was so over-hyped, and I did read that book and it was beyond awful. I have never watched more than 2 minutes of Survivor. I have never watched American Idol. To my mind, the more media frenzy, the more mass-marketed something is, probably the less value there is. How good can something that appeals to all the masses really be?

Posted by: Mom in South Carolina | July 20, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

WHO are these adults that read these books? I've perused them and found them to be - children's lit. Great for kids, not anyone with a reading level beyond 10th grade. Is there not enough good adult lit. for people out there?

Posted by: | July 20, 2007 11:06 AM

Several answers:
1. Most adults don't read at what used to be considered an "adult" level any more. Newspapers are generally written at a Grade 3 level. Harry Potter, with a lively but not too challenging vocabulary, is a lot more exciting for most people than Joyce or Proust. I have seen many adult non-readers turned on to reading by this series.
2. Reading level is not the only determinant of literary merit, nor is style. Characters who live, dialogue that reads naturally, and a well-structured plot are some of the good qualities of Harry Potter books.
3. Some of the adult HP fans are readers of fantasy. Fantasy readers want the archetypal struggle of good vs evil, not writing-school ruminations about one's father's briefcase, or four generations of alcoholic women in Maine. HP is all about this archetypal struggle and the age of the protagonists is irrelevant to its appeal.
4. A reader's intelligence isn't measured by his or her reading choices. Quite the opposite: an intelligent reader can learn from anything, where a less intelligent reader might miss allusions, historical relevance, or the interesting light literature casts on the society around it.

Posted by: worker bee | July 20, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"How good can something that appeals to all the masses really be?"

Like the Bible....?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"We've got to do a better job with education if there are adults who would choose this over Steinbeck or Fitzgerald who are both so very, very colorless - only if you haven't read them. Let go of your adolescence and be an adult."

What tripe!

This house has Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, etc. AND Rowling along with hundreds of others. Who says you have to "grow up" and limit yourself to only certain kinds of literature? What about the Lord of the Rings, which is fantasy but is not targeted at children. That too "adolescent" as well?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

worker bee

Excellent!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I have not read any HP book, nor have my children. Why? Yes, we are conservative Christians, but that's not really the reason. Some Christians I respect say they see no problem with HP, and others do find problems.

I really don't understand other christians who have a problem with FICTION like HP. I would not keep my kids from reading it anymore than watching the Neverending Story.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 20, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

BTW, hi WORKERBEE, good post! Reading is about enjoyment and good reading can be found in any genre.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 20, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mona: It's great that you taught your child to read at age 4, but not every child is ready to learn to read at age 4.

12:58: Transformers is totally off-topic, but I'll respond anyway. I haven't seen the movie, so thanks for the heads up for other parents. But what did irk me is that the preview for Transformers was at Shrek, which I see as geared towards a younger age. In general, the previews at kids movies don't seem to match the movie rating. I suppose there aren't enough G-rated movies to preview at G movies but it is still inappropriate. Hmmm. Maybe another blog topic entirely?

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 20, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

why do i love children's books rather than steinbeck or fitzgerald? perhaps because children's books have a sense of whimsey to them. cannery row while delightful in places, does not have a light heartedness to them. neither does grapes of wrath, great gatsby, tender is the night or many of the other adult lit books i've read. i put children's lit in the same category as pop lit, bodice rippers, and comic books. they're fun.
i sense a whole lot of elitist snobbery from some people. not the people who have said that they tried it & didn't like it but from the people who are busy writing that they're much too mature (adult, sophisticated, fill in the blank) to read children's lit. be sure and say the words children's lit with the appropriate sneer or gasps of horror.

Posted by: quark | July 20, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Mona: It's great that you taught your child to read at age 4, but not every child is ready to learn to read at age 4."

If there are no Special Needs issues, why would a child not be ready?

Posted by: Mona | July 20, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am from SC (not living there anymore, though) and am a Christian. I'm one of those who finds the HP series wonderfully fun and a great read. Unlike you, I enjoy fantasy, adventure, and mystery/suspense, and the HP series has provided all of that. I also love the book The Once and Future King by T. H. White wherein the young Arthur is taught by Merlin the Magician about the world around him and the nature of living things in preparation for his becoming king. White basically shows society as it was/is and how he thinks it ought to be while telling a wonderful story.

Also, I am a former English teacher (junior high school) who would have loved to recommend such a series as the Potter books to my students instead of the insipid and trendy "contemporary youth literature" foisted upon us by the school system that was supposed to be "relevant" to them. Tripe! Bah, humbug. :)

All of this just to say, the series is fun and interesting and it does not talk down to or preach to children about various aspects of life and society. It merely presents situations that can relate to real events in life in an interesting story line. Relationships, social matters, political intrigue, greed, ill-will, good vs. evil, friendship, loyalty, and so much more play out in the books, and I find them worthy of recommendation to children and adults alike who enjoy this particular style of literature.

Oh, I also love historical fiction. I guess I just love to read good fiction in general, not just the high-brow like Falkner or Fitzgerald but also the Earth Children series and Harry Potter adventures.

Posted by: To Mom in South Carolina | July 20, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, anon at 1:23, and pATRICK!

Posted by: worker bee | July 20, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Mona, I can only assume that you are joking with your question. OK, I'll admit it -- I guess my child is not your 4 year old's intellectual equal. My bad!!

Posted by: Steve | July 20, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"I guess I just love to read good fiction in general, not just the high-brow like Falkner or Fitzgerald"

We are in BIG trouble if FAULKNER and Fitzgerald are considered high-brow!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Also, I am a former English teacher (junior high school"

"I guess I just love to read good fiction in general, not just the high-brow like Falkner or Fitzgerald"

We are in BIG trouble if FAULKNER and Fitzgerald are considered high-brow!

Just noticed the writer is a former English teacher - can this be?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Worker Bee, I guess I will just break out Are you There God its Me Margaret to see what I can learn from it. Please. You fantasy weirdos and your enjoyment of dragons and spirts are sad. That you read and discuss children's books for the "fantasy" aspect speaks further to your stunted emotional growth.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

We are in BIG trouble if FAULKNER and Fitzgerald are considered high-brow!
-------------------------------------
Well it is certainly several steps above HP.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: | July 20, 2007 02:11 PM

I have found people like this to have no cleverness or imagination. Maybe we should just only read technical manuals....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm stunned at all the "controversy" over what impact the Potter books have had. Has anyone claimed that HP really changed across the board the reading levels of kids? I never heard that. I only heard that it was a set of books that really caught on and a lot of people wanted to read it and got a lot of people interested.

I haven't seen anything to dispute that.

I like the Potter books. Some more than others, but it's a really fun story and I love that they made really great movies from them (personally I think the Phoenix movie is MUCH better than the book).

And I hope another "fad of books" comes out when Potter is done.

Posted by: Liz D | July 20, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Has anyone claimed that HP really changed across the board the reading levels of kids? "

It's wishful thinking and marketing hype.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I have found people like this to have no cleverness or imagination. Maybe we should just only read technical manuals....

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There's a lot of great stuff between fantasy and technical manuals. Just because someone isn't into wizards for god sake doesn't mean they have no imagination.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy a good Mickey Spillane from time to time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"I have found people like this to have no cleverness or imagination. Maybe we should just only read technical manuals...."

Truly. Anyone who calls people "weirdos" or accuses them of "stunted emotional growth" for reading fantasy novels is in serious need of introspection. It's comical in its absurdity!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

To the posters at 02:02 PM and 02:07 PM, I taught JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL English, not college-level English. I originally typed William Shakespeare and Soren Kierkegaard but decided that it would be a little snooty. Sorry to bust your arrogant bubbles, but my reading repertoire does go from high level to pop-culture and I refuse to be intimdated by pedantic pundits. I enjoy everything from Plato's Republic to Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. Happy now? Or do I need to provide you with a list of books in my reading history? Sheesh.

Posted by: Sigh.... | July 20, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Mona: Learning to read takes language and patience complexities that different children gain at different ages. I've met some kids who can read at 4 (or earlier), some who learn at 5, some who learn at 6. My 5-year-old had only one child in his class in preschool who could read. The rest all know their alphabet, can write their letters and some words. I've no doubt all of them will be reading in kindergarten. My understanding from elementary school teachers is that by the end of kindergarten, a large percent are reading. Still, that's not a guarantee of long-term reading ability. One mom friend's son wouldn't read till first grade, then picked up Harry Potter and read the book through that same year and kept up his reading habit from there.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 20, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Sigh

"To the posters at 02:02 PM and 02:07 PM, I taught JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL English, not college-level English. "

Then you should know how to spell FAULKNER; it's not Falkner.

I read Faulkner and Fitzgerald short stories in JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL English.

Glad you are a FORMER teacher! Sheesh!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that the most small-minded comments are coming from those who claim to be so sophisticated? I sense that the most literate posters here are the ones who do not limit themselves so narrowly to only "adult" or "sophisticated" literature. They consume literature widely and voraciously.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"Mona: Learning to read takes language and patience complexities that different children gain at different ages. I've met some kids who can read at 4 (or earlier), some who learn at 5, some who learn at 6. My 5-year-old had only one child in his class in preschool who could read"

It doesn't always mean the kids weren't ready to learn; it could mean the kids weren't TAUGHT to read.

Posted by: Mona | July 20, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Sigh

"To the posters at 02:02 PM and 02:07 PM, I taught JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL English, not college-level English. "

Then you should know how to spell FAULKNER; it's not Falkner.

I read Faulkner and Fitzgerald short stories in JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL English.

Glad you are a FORMER teacher! Sheesh!
------------------------------------------

I suppose you have never heard of a typographical error, eh? I don't usually spellcheck my posts, so I am sorry to have offended your sensibilities, anonymous pedant.

And I question your having read FAULKNER and Fitzgerald in junior high school since those are usually assigned in junior and senior years in high school. Of course, you probably were quite the little savant and thus were grade-levels above everyone else around you. Kudos!

Posted by: Sigh yet again, pedant.... | July 20, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

FORMER teacher

Of course, you probably were quite the little savant and thus were grade-levels above everyone else around you. "

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Stacy, you are correct about child readiness for reading. Some children do read, and read well, at four years of age, but most begin reading betwen kindergarten and the end of first grade. There may be differences between children early on, but it tends to average out by third grade in most cases. We don't need to be competitive with regard to when our kids reach particular milestones. Life is hectic enough. :)

Posted by: Lynne | July 20, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course.

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You! Out of the gene pool, pedant! The future of our species demands it! :)

Posted by: DNA/RNA | July 20, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

A good book is a good book is a good book! And a good movie based on a good book stands on its merits, regardless of the age of the intended audience.

A good example: Charlotte's Web. It's well written and has a broad inter-generational appeal. The live action movie that came out on DVD earlier this year is fantastic!

As to whether book or movie should come first ... if the movie is more or less faithful to the book, it probably doesn't matter.

Posted by: Murphy | July 20, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Murphy, you are right on target. I agree that a good book is good, regardless of the targeted audience. Your example of Charlotte's Web is apt. I recall my third grade teacher reading it to us in the afternoons and we all loved it (and cried at the end). :) It is a book I would read as an adult and still enjoy it. The movie, I hear, is excellent and I hope to see it eventually. Often a movie made from a book is a disappointment, so it's good to know that this one does not fall into that category.

Posted by: Lynne | July 20, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

DNA/RNA

"You! Out of the gene pool, pedant! The future of our species demands it! :)"

Former teacher is a Christian, gets bonus points...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Former teacher is a Christian, gets bonus points...

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I'm actually quite moderate in my beliefs--not all Christians are Creationists, believe it or not. :) (I'm just not a great typist.) I'm really an all-right person most of the time.

Posted by: Former Teacher--Yeah, that's right! :) | July 20, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse


Former Teacher--Yeah, that's right

"I'm actually quite moderate in my beliefs--not all Christians are Creationists, believe it or not. :) (I'm just not a great typist.) I'm really an all-right person most of the time."

No second act here. You blew it.

Darwinism takes its course.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

No second act here. You blew it.

Darwinism takes its course.

------------------------------------------
Wow. Harsh. No forgiveness, eh? Glad I don't pray to you. :) At least Darwin allowed for variations.

I still like Harry Potter though, even though it's not high littrachure (intentional misspelling for humor's sake). (To bring things back to the Topic du Jour.)

Posted by: Sigh.... | July 20, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

DNA/RNA

"You! Out of the gene pool, pedant! The future of our species demands it! :)"


Former teacher is a Christian, gets bonus points...

Ug, another miltant ugly atheist rant,people like this make an inner body cavity search more fun to do than listening to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

DNA/RNA

"You! Out of the gene pool, pedant! The future of our species demands it! :)"


Former teacher is a Christian, gets bonus points..."


God made you and loves you, but for the life of me , I don't know why.....

Posted by: pATRICK | July 20, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Truly. Anyone who calls people "weirdos" or accuses them of "stunted emotional growth" for reading fantasy novels is in serious need of introspection. It's comical in its absurdity!
_________________________________

WEIRDOS (see below) - I will accept your apology any time.


Ken Zwier, 42, from Phoenix, Ariz., grew and bleached his hair to achieve the golden tresses of villain Lucius Malfoy.

"Tomorrow I'm buzzing it all off. It's been a couple of years," said Zwier, who was lining up with his wife and two daughters _ all in costume. The family planned to read the book aloud to one another on their flight back to the United States Saturday. They said anyone who complained would be offered ear plugs.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"Mona: It's great that you taught your child to read at age 4, but not every child is ready to learn to read at age 4."

If there are no Special Needs issues, why would a child not be ready?

Posted by: Mona | July 20, 2007 01:41 PM

This seems funny. Didn't this discussion start based on reading Harry Potter specifically. Even the first book is over 300 pages. So while some 4 year olds (not mine) might be reading, I still don't expect that they'll be reading this.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | July 21, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

More free publicity for the already obscnenly rich Rowling. Keep adding to her bank account you idiots.

Posted by: John Paul | July 23, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I loved the 7th book, it wrapped up a LOT of loose ends.

What I don't understand is when the fundies start bleating off about how "evil" HP is, how it "promotes witchcraft", etc. If you don't like the book, don't READ it! Simple as that!

Posted by: Alex | July 24, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Rx Prices | August 29, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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