Harry Potter

I've been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to N as his bedtime story for the past several weeks, with D usually coming in to listen as well.  (I read it to him when he was about N's age.)  We finished it over the weekend, and tonight N asked if I'd start another chapter book.

I said, sure, how about Harry Potter?  This was a devious move on my part, because I tried reading it to D last year, and during the letter delivery sequence, he decided it was too scary and refused to go any further.  But N is much less freaked out by "scary" books and movies (remember, he's the one who came to see Coraline, even though he's almost 3 years younger than D), and he said ok, mostly because he could see that it was a big fat book that would get him my attention for a long time.

So I read the first half chapter to both boys, and then D asked if I'd read the rest of the chapter as his bedtime story.  Gee, I guess you can twist my arm.  So we finished the first chapter, and then D asked if he could keep going on his own.  I said yes, overruling N's pout, and D made it to Diagon Alley before I made him turn out the light.

I'm feeling pleased as punch, both because I think he'll enjoy it, and also because D has been resistant to reading chapter books on his own, in spite of the fact that he's quite capable of doing so.  He reads lots of manga, and has read some of the kids' novelizations set in the star wars universe, but that's about it.  And while I'm willing to concede that Harry Potter isn't great literature, it's a heck of a lot better than those star wars novels. 

Fundamentally, I think I've been feeling a bit left out of D's interests.  I'm not fascinated by Pokemon, and I can't fake it.  I'm not a big fan of manga.  I'm really bad at Lego Star Wars.  So I'm excited to have him interested in something that I like too.

10 Responses to “Harry Potter”

  1. sinda Says:

    The same thing happenened in my house – HP is the first book my 8 yo has read consistently on her own – after we finish reading aloud at night, first thing in the morning, on the way to school. I give it full props for fueling her reading habits! Before that, she’d read a little here or there, but never really get engrossed.

  2. amy Says:

    Oh, but Elizabeth, there are so many good, well-written books out there, and so much that’s got more story integrity — why not just go straight to The Hobbit? Or Danny, Champion of the World? Or the Narnia books?
    My policy with A. is that if she wants tripe (at this point, any books with licensed characters, or Dr. Seuss) she can buy and read it herself. (And she does.) From me she gets Moomins, the Twits, the Moffats, the Ingallses, well-illustrated fairy tales, Karla Kuskin, Wm Steig, James Herriot, etc. This way I figure she’ll get high and low, as well as the idea that crap exists and Mama does not embrace it. She gets literate voices in her ear, and she gets good illustration. Also, bedtime stories are not all about her. They’re when I get to read stories, aloud. So bedtime often starts with whining (“Why can’t we watch television?!*@##!!”) and then more whining (“FINE. But I’m going to read my book while you read,”) and ends with rapt attention (“NOOOOO! Two more pages!”). The Moomins are a smash hit, btw.
    The exception I make is for books she brings home from the school library, but even there, if a book is perfectly awful, I find a way not to read it. Usually I’ll distract her by making up stories, and then — whoops! It’s library day, and the book has to go back.
    What about Kidnapped? You can even get it with NC Wyeth illustrations. Or The Fantastic Mr. Fox? Or — if he’s going to read comics — at least point him to Stan Lee. Stan’s got an A-1 sense of story, literate guy. Or oh, gee, _My Side of the Mountain_. If he’s ready for HP, he’s certainly ready for the proto-Thoreau runaway boy who ditches the crowded city apartment and hides out in a hollowed out tree in the Catskills, and learns to live off the land and tame a falcon.
    I wouldn’t worry about D’s reading crap, though — I read good stuff, but also read loads of real garbage. It didn’t stand in the way of James Joyce a few years later.

  3. liz Says:

    Woot! MM loves the series (to my great delight). We’re on book six, which is actually a bit mature for a 7 year old, but what the heck.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    I think part of the point of liking Pokemon and the Star Wars novels may be that he likes being knowledgeable about a whole bunch of characters and their special qualities. So he might also like other chapter books that are set in a “world” of fantasy creatures or people. If he slows down after the HP, I’d suggest trying some Discworld novels (Terry Pratchett).

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Chill out, Amy. The first Harry Potter book is actually quite good, without all the annoying exposition that bogs the later books down.
    I’ve read Spiderweb for Two, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Danny the Champion of the World to him. And we tried a moomin book, which bored him. We listened to The Mouse and the Motorcycle on a car trip, and are slowly working through The Champion of Merrimack County, which he clearly is listening to only to humor me. And T reads Spiderman and the Fantastic Four to the boys.

  6. amy Says:

    You liked the 1st HP book? I tried reading it — found it too derivative of much better stuff (Tolkein, Dahl, Lewis, others) without the coherent sense of myth & story grammar they had. Also without the strength of narrative voice — as I recall she hadn’t noticed that the narrator is a kind of character. Good for kid. Bad for me.
    What about Edward Eager? And the Psammead books?
    This conversation’s just made me go have a look at the Newbery list for some non-Brit antidote, and I realize that while I’ve read a lot of them & many are favorites, there’s a lot I’d never heard of. I think that’ll be the project for 2009 — for me, not A. — reading all the ones I haven’t. Starting with the oldies. Do you know any of these?
    1922 Medal Winner: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright)
    Honor Books:
    The Great Quest by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)
    Cedric the Forester by Bernard Marshall (Appleton)
    The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure by William Bowen (Macmillan)
    The Golden Fleece and The Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum (Macmillan)
    The Windy Hill by Cornelia Meigs (Macmillan)
    I hadn’t realized that Mary Stolz’s _Belling the Tiger_ was a winner (1962). It caught my eye in a used bookstore and I got it, mostly for me, hadn’t expected A. to be interested. Looked too long and convoluted. She was rapt, though — I think she liked it better than I did.

  7. kathy a. Says:

    i think it’s great to go with what captures interest. and it sounds like HP has!

  8. urbanartiste Says:

    In regard to Harry Potter many kids have seen the films, but have not read the books. The books are, of course, better than the films and it may be a lesson for kids in pursuing reading over relying on other forms of entertainment.

  9. TC Says:

    I can’t believe that D is reading–CAPABLE of reading–Harry Potter! I’m going to go sob in the corner for a few minutes now, don’t mind me. ;-)
    (FWIW, I too read to N at night–and my 11-year-old, Em, on alternate nights–and he adores the Beverly Cleary Henry and Ribsy books. So do I. Sounds like they’d be way below D’s level, but N might enjoy them…)

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    TC, for what it’s worth, after his first batch of enthusiasm for reading ahead on his own, D has decided he’d rather listen to me read it out loud rather than read it himself. Whatever.
    I tried Half Magic (which is one of my all time favorite books) on Daniel a while back, and he was uninterested in it. Will have to try again sometime. We started watching the movie of Five Children and It on Netflix, which is only vaguely related to the book, and Daniel found it scary.
    Amy, you should check out the Newberry Project blog: http://newberryproject.blogspot.com/ where a bunch of bloggers have been reading all of the old Newberry award books. I have no interest in reading them all myself, but I’ve been enjoying the reviews.

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