Unlike basically everyone on the planet who self-identifies as a reader, I made it to 2015 without reading the Harry Potter series. I don’t have anything against fantasy as a genre–in fact, I like it–but didn’t really have any impetus pick up the books until I found myself with elementary aged fantasy fans in the house.
Although I’ve read enough reviews by people I respect to figure I’d be ok with the books, I did want to read them as my kids did, so that we could talk over any potential problems or issues. And so, this spring, I tore through the seven volumes in quick succession (that and empty carbs seemed like the only things I could stomach due to morning sickness) and found I quite liked them.
If you do have topical or thematic concerns with the books, I’d encourage you to read them before you make up your mind. Personally I found them to be much more about how to handle being different, how to make good decisions when evil seems easier, and the importance of taking advice from wiser authority figures than about witchcraft as a religion. I made notes as I read so that I could identify all of the topics I thought would make for good discussion, and I appreciated the many examples of bravery, integrity, taking a stand for what’s right, and so on. I also liked how the stories ring true in the characterization of middle school/high school aged kids, and also take a firm line against the stereotypical sappy/drippy teen angst thing (several characters confront each other when tempted to indulge in martyr complexing and pity partying).
I do think the books increase in difficulty and complexity as the series progresses. However, the series is pretty engrossing, so I think it makes for a good stretch if you have a kid who can handle the first two books but might need to reach a bit for the later ones.
Depending on when your school resumes, it might be a bit late in the game to recommend a series of seven long books for summer reading, but if you’re like us and fly through them you have plenty of time to read theHarry Potter series and then talk them over together!
If you’ve read the Harry Potter series with your kids, what issues or topics were most memorable for you?
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