At what age (and HOW) to read Harry Potter to your child

So I have a question for you. Have you always wanted to read Harry Potter to your kid? Like have you dreamed about this moment since before your child even existed? Do you worship the ground J.K. Rowling walks on? Do you sometimes have to remind yourself that the world of Harry Potter is fiction because you have real deep down feelings about the characters? Sorry, that was like 9000 questions.

But if you answered yes to some of them and reading Harry Potter to your child is on your bucket list, I have something REALLY important to tell you:

DO NOT F THIS UP!!!!

I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but it is very possible to make a royal mistake and turn your kid off Harry Potter forever (insert scary horror music here).

So here goes, here are 7 things to do when it comes to reading Harry Potter to your kiddo:

1. Do NOT start too early.
I know you’ve been chomping at the bit to do this for years, but it is imperative that you wait until they are ready. Ask yourself: does your kid have an amazing attention span? There are 4,224 pages in the Harry Potter series, 223 in the first book. That’s a lot of F’ing pages (not enough if you ask me). But seriously, can your kid sit through that many pages? If they can, AWESOME. If not, wait wait wait. I had one kid who was ready at 5 ½ and the other who wasn’t ready until 7.

2. Youuuuuuu wannnnnttttt toooooooo readddddd theeeeeeee firssssstttttt boooooooook realllllllyyyyyy slowwwwlllllllyyyyy.
Sorry, that’s as annoying as Colin Creevey. But here’s the thing, Harry Potter is not easy. There are lots of characters, difficult names, weird accents, complicated plots, and lots of big vocabulary words. When I started reading it to both of my kiddos, not only did I go verrry slowwwly, but I even changed a difficult word here or there. Yes, I know you want them to learn words like “incredulously” and “disgruntled,” and they will, but if they can’t understand the story, what’s the point?

3. Pause once in a while to talk about what you’ve read.
Ask them questions just to make sure they understand what’s going on. Easy questions like “why does Harry have a scar?” or “what do you think about Harry’s cousin?” I actually did this with my son and quicky realized he had no Fing clue what was happening, and we put the book down and picked it back up about 6 months later.

4. Pause again BEFORE the 4th book.
The 4th book is dark. Very dark. I won’t say what happens, but I will say there is death. Sad death that will make it hard for you to keep reading through your snotty tears. Some kids will be okay with that, but some kids will require extensive hypnotism and shock therapy afterward, so unless you want to cash in their 529 plan to get their brain fixed, make sure they’re old enough to handle these emotions.

5. Now this one is up to you, but in our house we have a gigantic rule—NO watching the movies before the book is finished.
In fact, since I’d never seen a Harry Potter movie before I read the first book to Zoey, I pronounced Hagrid’s name wrong the entire time and so did Zoey. I pronounced it Hay-grid. I’ve also heard about kids pronouncing Hermione’s name wrong and calling her Hermy-one. I’ve even heard about kids picturing the characters with their own color of skin. I think this is amazing. Books inspire kids to use their imagination. But once you see the movies, Daniel Radcliffe will forever more be what Harry Potter looks like.

6. Okay, get out a tissue because this one is sad. Really sad.
Are you ready for this? Some kids will not like Harry Potter. I know, gasp!!!!! I will cross every finger that this won’t be your kid, but it does happen. And that’s okay. I mean, no, it’s really not okay, but sigh, you can’t force them to like something. Life goes on. My kid doesn’t like chocolate and every day I wonder where I F’ed up.

7. Because there’s no way I can end on #6. 
Try not to get too sad as you get closer and closer to finishing the entire series with your kiddo. By the time I finished reading Harry Potter to my last child, I was bawling. For all sorts of reasons. Finishing Harry Potter with both of my kids felt like the end of an era. But guess what I’m reading now? Harry Potter! To my son! Again!

In the words of one of my favorite characters, “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
—Luna Lovegood

So if you do it right, it might be so amazing, the end might not be the end. And hey, if they don’t want to read Harry Potter with you again, so be it. Someday you’ll have grandchildren. 

If you liked this, please don’t forget to like and share it, especially with your friends who love Harry Potter like he’s a real person. Thank you.

P.S. If your family LOVES Harry Potter, I have a Harry Potter storefront with sooo many awesome things we’ve bought over the years. (I am an Amazon affiliate and can earn from qualifying purchases).

 




There are 10 comments for this article
  1. Erica at 7:38 pm

    I love you, and I love Harry Potter (so much so that my husband and I went to the Magical World of Harry Potter theme park for our honeymoon…). That being said I have mixed feelings about how, when and how much I want to support the world after all of the transphobic statements that JK Rowling has made. I have a lot of respect for the fact that she created this Amazing world and did so while also being a single mom…but she also goes against so many things that I strongly support. I want my kids to discover Hogwarts and I hope they love it as much as we do, but I am torn as to wether or not I want to give any more money to an author that uses her reach to spread Hate.

  2. Julie Berkus at 7:48 pm

    This post is so timely! I never read Harry Potter, but have loved every minute of reading it with my son. It has been an amazing experience and I have loved every book. We have followed all your suggestions- great minds think alike! We are just starting book 7 and I am feeling sad this journey will end.

  3. Mary SchneiderMary at 8:14 pm

    Not to be a buzz kill but…
    Kingsley Shacklebolt is the name she chose for one of her few Black characters.
    Shacklebolt.

    What stereotypical myths about a particular people group do the Goblins bring to mind? The penny-pinching, clever, but twisted race of “others”? (hint… they once wore gold stars.)

    That’s not to say I don’t still love Harry Potter. There’s a LOT of good in the books. There’s friendship and courage and loyalty and conflict and resolution and falling in love and the power of doing what’s right. All very good things, which help to outweigh the problematic parts.

    I would just suggest that reading the books with your kids should be part of a larger conversation about the ways in which we view those who aren’t like us. And maybe coupled with readings of books about trans kids, because our kids are the future, and what you teach them about MY kid will affect his life, too.
    (And btw? My son loves Harry Potter, even though JK’s behavior and transphobic bs has cut deep.)

    • James at 12:23 am

      As a transgender man myself, I appreciate you bringing up JK’s stance on transgender issues. While I disagree with her because of her “TERF” statements, I also find it difficult to stay away from my love of Harry Potter.

  4. Robin at 9:48 pm

    My daughter read the first book by herself at age 7 she got me into it and we read every book. Then saw the movies I was bummed when it ended but we have since read many books together.

  5. Michelle Liimatainen at 8:19 am

    I read my kids all the Harry Potter books ( with voices for each character!) and it was some of the best times. We spent one snowy day in bed for 9 hours reading book 4. We always stopped and discussed it after each chapter. I did everything you suggested with your kids too. It took time. I also have to add that if your child become HO obsessed you might want to take a break or you may get a call from a teacher asking you to take a break beachside your child put Harry Potter flying over a Pioneer Village in his Social Studies project 😳😉😂 Not cool when you actually lived in Salem, MA!! 🤣🤣🤣

  6. bruinspin at 5:04 pm

    I read this to my daughter’s 3rd grade class way back when the first book was released. A couple of parents, naturally, had a mild seizure over it, (witchcraft – oh the horror – it’s FANTASY!!!!) but then had the option of taking their kids out of class if it bothered them so much which never happened (of course). It was a great class read with the discussions ensuing after each chapter. I do think a 5-7 age group is a bit young; however, that being said, apparently it seems OK according to these comments and other feedback I’ve read elsewhere. It seems that reading it that young, and then reading it together again a few years later would be a wonderful way to see the different perspective they get being a bit older. Things might seem more obvious, especially knowing what’s going to happen, so all the forshadowing is so much more evident. So very cool! (to me, re-reading a good book is like visiting an old friend).

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