18 answers

Is the 4Th Harry Potter Book Appropriate for a 3Rd Grader?

My son is begging to read the 4th Harry Potter Book, the Goblet of Fire. He's read the first 3 Harry Potter books and loves them. I haven't read the 4th book myself-I don't have time to read 740+ pages with 3 kids at home, but I have read several reviews on the book and it seems as though it wouldn't be appropriate for and 8 year old. While I'm thrilled he's excited about reading, I'm concerned this might not be the best book for him. Has anyone read the book themselves, or had their child read it. What are your opinions?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the input! We went ahead and got the book. We're going to start by reading most of it together in the evenings-normally, he just reads on his own. Each evening, we'll talk about what he read during the day at school and read for awhile together. He's fairly mature and realizes that it's not reality. He's so excited about the book-he's already read 20 pages, and for a child who doesn't like to read, that wonderful!! We won't be watching the movie when he's finished...my kids know that PG-13 movies are for older kids.

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It is darker than the first 3 because the trio is older and dealing with bigger issues. I think the comprehension or the larger vocabulary might be more of an issue than the content itself for a third grader. It really comes down to how you feel about it. I personally allow my son (he's 4 1/2) to read or listen to books that are for older children and when something comes up that he has a question on or a concern, we discuss it.

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My 16 yr old has read all the Harry Potter books and she also has a 4th grade sister. She said that the book itself is fine but it has a lot of really big words in it and that maybe more of the problem. But she said she would let her sister read it.

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It is darker than the first 3 because the trio is older and dealing with bigger issues. I think the comprehension or the larger vocabulary might be more of an issue than the content itself for a third grader. It really comes down to how you feel about it. I personally allow my son (he's 4 1/2) to read or listen to books that are for older children and when something comes up that he has a question on or a concern, we discuss it.

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I definately do not think it is appropriate. In my opinion the 4th book is where it goes from playful with dark undertones, to just plain dark.

Hi J.,

My daughter liked the first HP movie when she was about 7 I think, but she found the second one a little scary and did not enjoy the whole thing covering her face part of the movie.
I believe that if a child is not ready for reading or watching they will know better than you do but might induce a dislike for it, you can read the book yourself and see if you think that he'll be OK reading it too or at least if it would be OK with you to let him start and see if he wants to read the whole thing.
My daughter is 9 now and didn't see or read any other HP book/movie again, just because she thinks that they are too scary. She reads a lot but not this kind of books, she likes "little House on the Prairie" or Boxcar Children and many other girlie books, so it really deppends on each child.
I also decided that I don't want her comming to my bed in the middle of the night because she is scare:)
Hope it helps.

This question really depends on your 8 year old. I'm a Potter fan and have read all the books and seen the movies. Book 4 starts Harry down a dark path and there is a closer to home death in the movie than in the other books. For the most part it isn't really that bad until the end of the book. My daughter is about to turn 8 and I think she could probably handle the book, but death is something she has experienced in real life and that we've talked about.

If you really aren't sure, rent the movie and watch it, it doesn't cover everything, of course, but does give you the gist of what is going to happen. A note on the movie, though, is that it was directed by a very dark director, so the whole movie has a dark feel when in your son's imagination during reading the book, it might not be so bad.

I read the entire series and LOVED it. That said, those books have a lot of deep issues housed within them. There is the obvious good versus evil. There is also a ton of racism. The "pure bloods" don't want anyone that is not them to exist. The plan is to destroy them. It is reminiscent of the Nazis. I say, let him read it. Read it with him! There are a lot of opportunity to teach him things about life and how those things make him feel. The purebloods are led by the evil Voldemort and have that mob mentality. There are great lessons to be taught using the issues in this book, but you have to be ready to teach them. It is an easy read.

I will say that a lot of these things do not surface as fiercely until the 5th or 6th book (I cannot remember which). I do remember one of those books leaving me in a very dark place. However, i do think that if you are ready to talk about those issues with him, it would be good for everyone! You don't have to bring up World War II, just see how he feels about it and talk through it so that if faced one day with mob mentality, racism or the choices between right and wrong, he might be better-equipped than an average kid (or adult for that matter).

I personally loved all of the Harry Potter books myself, however I do feel they get progressively darker as the books progress and I do not feel it would be appropriate for a 3rd grader.

I think the 4th book is fine for a third-grader, so long as he has already handled the first three books without problems. There is a death at the end of the book, but it's not gory--the kid dies almost instantly. Of course it's up to you, and it depends on the kid. My oldest daughter did fine with the book, and my second (who is now 8) is nowhere close to being ready, but more because she doesn't have the attention span for a book of that length.

i was a very mature reader...stephen king in at least 8th grade if i remember correctly. And I love the Potter books. If he had no problems with the first 3, no nightmares etc, then the 4th shouldnt be any more inappropriate.

Each of the books get darker and more "deathly". If my children are interested in it when they are eight, I will let them read it until they reach a point of uncomfort. We do that with most things now that they are almost seven. If we are watching a movie and we see that they are getting scare we ask them how they are doing and if it continues we turn it off. They have watched all the HP movies and are ok with them.

I suggest to you that since you do not have time to read the books, maybe checking out the book on CD from the library and listening to it. I have found them most useful.

Our girls were not allowed to read or see The Goblet of Fire. It was really dark. Even though they are now 10 and 11 they still aren't allowed to. They are okay with that. They know in a year or two they'll be able to. Maybe you could read it first on your own and then block out the pages he can't read that won't affect the story. Just a thought. Good luck and God Bless.

Frankly, I think all the books are wonderful and how he reacts to it is dependant upon how you will react to it. I will tell you one of the characters in it dies (not Harry, Ron or Hermonine) but your son will be having to deal with the issue of the death of a friend because the trio (as well as the school) take it very hard.

To me, the most important aspect of the books is the fact that no matter how hard and tough times get, Harry carries on his duty and his friends are faithful through to the end. I am not a fan of banning any sort of books. My husband was in the 3rd grade when he read the Hobbit for the first time, and if that isn't a dark lot of books, I don't know what is.

I would recommend you researching teaching aspects of the book online to have thoughtful conversations with your son about the book. Look at the literary aspects of it, the foreshadowing of what is to come, the flashbacks, the hero, the villian, etc. If anything J.K. Rowling did a fantastic job of teaching children critical thinking as they plow through these volumous tombs. Frankly, I would be more proud that your son is excited about starting a 700+ book than what the contents of it are. If he's not interested in it, he'll put it down, but chances are he will learn a lot and it'll be a great conversation piece and learning experience for you all.

My 9 year old niece has read all of the books and their family is also very aware of the appropriate age for things like this. She loved the books. However, I think that they wouldn't allow her to watch the movies until she read the book. While I agree with others who have said that the books get progressively darker starting with book 4, I don't think 4 was that bad. Number 6 was probably the worst of them for me. I think it is important to remember though that a child does not interpret thing the same way an adult does. That does not mean that children are dumb about certain things, just more nieve and hopefully still innocent so they will not understand certain material the same way an adult does. What might seem like a big deal to you, might not register at all in your 8 year old's mind. If he is interested in reading, you need to encourage it. My niece actually wasn't very interested in reading until she started the HP books and now it is hard to get her to put books down. Each child is different and you can't put a label on what is appropriate based on their age. My almost 12 year old niece was reading at a 9th grade level which included comprehession in 4th grade. I think if you are concerned about the book, you should just let him know ahead of time that there might be some scarry things in it and encourage him to ask you questions if there is something that he doesn't understand.

I have read the entire series. I think they are great books, but I do think a reader needs to be the appropriate age. The 4th book is when things really start to get scary. I do not want to "spoil" the book for you, but I definitely do not think they are appropriate for a child below middle school age. You might try renting the 4th movie to get an idea of the story line.

Follow your gut, mama!

Personally I love all of the books and movies...
I have let my kids read them, granted they are now older but were about 6 when the books came out. My daughter was not interested and for my son, he immediately fell in love with them (it even convinced him to wear his glasses full time) It opened a whole new world to him and he now at 16 loves the entire Pendragon series and Eragon series as well.

I would say to talk to him and let him know that it is your understanding that the book gets a little harder to understand, but that you are willing to let him read it and if her feels uncomfortable or wants to wait that's fine and if he has any questions about anything in the book to come to you.
I would hate to take his love for reading away.

My 16 yr old has read all the Harry Potter books and she also has a 4th grade sister. She said that the book itself is fine but it has a lot of really big words in it and that maybe more of the problem. But she said she would let her sister read it.

My 8 year old read the first 3 last year and started Goblet of Fire but decided not to finish it. He found it a little bit harder to understand so decided to wait a while and try again. You could explain to your son that some people have found the book scary and if he starts reading it and finds it scary also, he can always stop reading and try again in a few years.

I think it depends on the kid. My children have seen all of the movies that are currently on DVD. None of them have been scared at all and none of them have had nightmares or anything. They love the movies. I know that a lot of people say that it's inappropriate- and there are definitely a lot of movies that I will not let my children see. But, they all love the Harry Potter movies and my 5 yr old loves the books- we read them to him. We're only on the 2nd book- but I will continue with all of them. I think you're the only one who can make a decision for your kids. You're the mom. You know their maturity level(s). All children are different. Each child can/will handle things differently. My 5 yr old love Harry Potter. My younger 2 have not been sheltered from the movies and have watched some of each of the movies- but they really have no interest in them. I have read all of the HP books and we have all of the movies that are on DVD. All of the books are somewhat dark. There is death in the books/movies. We have talked with our kids and explained death and we've also explained that the things in the HP books and movies is not real- even though it seems kind of real. I would let my 5 yr old read any of the books and see any of the movies. You can rent the movie and watch it to get a good idea of the story line. Ultimately you have to make the decision for your kids... go with your gut feeling!

I'm not into censoring children's' reading. I think it is great that your son is so excited about reading a book. It is a children's book, although readers of all ages can enjoy it. If you are uncomfortable, maybe you or your husband (or an aunt, uncle, grandma, etc.) can read it with him and have discussions with him about it. I hope my kids are as excited about reading as your son.

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