Question Re: Harry Potter for Elementary School Aged Children

Updated on September 12, 2013
J.T. asks from Oradell, NJ
34 answers

No more responses please! Some great ones but too many who can't read my question and are acting like I'm forbidding the book bc I think it's too old. That wasn't the issue!! I was fine with her reading it. And for what it's worth, she started another book last night and was so happy about it and got up and started reading this morning which she never did with HP. I'm amazed the number of people who don't answer my original question and just want to lecture and don't even react to the facts.

Suz T - You lectured me as if I'm a horrible mom censoring my child when you either can't read or didn't read the real question and what was behind it. Nothing to do with control. I just like people to have their facts straight before they lecture me in a public forum.

For parents of elementary aged children or recent grads, I'm curious at what age your child read the entire series (if they did - I personally am not a fan! :) That is my question. For background, my daughter is just about 9 and in the middle of book #5. She LOVES Harry Potter. My husband and I were a bit torn on the suitability of the book for her bc Harry is about 15 in it but she is not a big reader and just loves Harry Potter. However, we feel like it's also a bit too hard for her to really enjoy it. She's above grade level reading but a reluctant reader and it's a THICK book with SMALL print! It's daunting. So despite her claims she loves the book, we have to kind of force her to read it which gets frustrating. Of course we suggest other books but she insists on Harry Potter but then won't really read. We finally put our foot down she's not reading it anymore bc it came out last night that part of the reason she's reading it is to keep up with her friends. Several of them are on book 6 or have read the series already. It amazes me as I was always a very strong reader but to me these are hard books for their ages. We live in a competitive area so I'm curious what's going on elsewhere. Have all 8 or 9 year olds already finished the series? We agreed she would tell her friends we won't let her read it anymore bc it's "too old" and she will try some easier books. But I'm curious if it means she's "behind". Amazon says the books are for ages 9 and up, grades 4-7. She's starting 4th grade, almost 9.

Momma11 - you are so rude. I wanted people to agree with me? Agree with what ages their children read the HP series?? How is that possible? That was my original question!!

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So What Happened?

Many really helpful recent answers. Thank you. And someone sent me an article with an excellent discussion of what ages HP is appropriate for. As well, I've gotten some good alternatives as she is attracted to the fantasy genre. I'd also started to think I will just read the rest of the 5th book to her. Some people since suggested that and I agree it's a good idea. Let her finish it up that way. Of course we read aloud to her for years and years but had stopped in the past year or two. One thing though - I think she genuinely loves the HP character and story lines vs she's completely faking it to be like her friends. This 5th book is just too hard for her though.

I think many people are missing the point... If she wanted to read Harry Potter and actually did, that'd be fine! That's why we've let her up until now. But she wants to read them more in theory than in reality. ie: not actually sit and read! When she has an entire day of play (their school still hasn't started) and she fights reading more than 20 min throughout the day, I think there is a problem. She's old enough to read more than 20 min a day when she's not even in school so her brain isn't being over taxed. Thus I ask her WHY she doesn't want to read a little bit more. And the answer seems to be the book is a bit too challenging. So seems logical to stop yet she feels peer pressure to keep reading. But she then does so little of it that I think she's missing out on valuable practice reading time. If this was enjoyable for her, just a bit of a challenge but she willingly read for an hour a day- no problem. But that's not the case. It's a battle. And I don't want reading to be a battle. I think a slightly easier book may make the whole thing less taxing for her and then she'd be more willing. But my question really was whether or not all 8 anad 9 year olds have in fact finished the series.

AKMom - did you read this is an issue bc we have to just about force her to read?...

Christie Lee - my SWH might be all over the place but that's bce you and some others didn't actually answer my question. Instead you gave me thoughts on whether to challenge her or not. That is not what I was asking if you had read my post. I asked if most kids ages 8-9 had already read the entire HP series. Reading carefully is important too.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

She's not behind. She may indeed like it, but find it a bit daunting. Let her read it at her own pace if she wants to read it.
NEVER fore a child to read anything they don't want - it will only make them hate reading.
NEVER stop a child from reading something they like, even if you think it's not age appropriate. You will only frustrate their desire to read.
ALWAYS be available to answer any questions and address any concerns they may have about what they read.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My boys read the books starting in 3rd grade moving on the the later books 4th and 5 grade years. But My #2 was reading them because his friends had. He quickly moved on the other types of book he enjoys. He got up to book 4, I think. My #1 loves reading, it's a challenge keeping up with his need for new reading material. I wouldn't make it into an issue. All kids read at different speeds.

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answers from Portland on

Since I have two kids at different reading levels, I decided to read the series to them. So each night I read a little and then they can read their own books. They love it and we've decided we'll watch each movie after reading each book. We also did this with Wizard of Oz and other classics. Might be an option if she is interested in the book, but you are worried about the level. I would think 8-9 is a tad young for some of the books as far as reading level, print size, etc. Although, I just overheard a conversation where a dad was saying his 7 year old is on book 5 - by himself. Wow.

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answers from Rochester on

I stopped reading people's responses after just a few so I apologize if I repeat something. As a reading specialist I was getting frustrated with some of the responses you were getting.

It is not uncommon for kids at that age to want to read what their peers are reading. There also tends to be an "I like big books and I cannot lie," syndrome that happens at that age--the bigger, the better. But not all kids can read at the level those big books are written. I wouldn't be surprised if some of her friends who have read the books have had the same difficulty that your daughter is having. I've known lots of kids (as young as 2nd grade) who have carried around the Harry Potter books and "read" them. The first Harry Potter book is written at about a 5th grade reading level. The last books are written at about a 7th grade reading level. So there is a big difference in reading level.

If a book isn't "fast, fun, and easy", it isn't going to be an enjoyable book for a kid to read at home for fun. If you think about yourself, most adults choose books to read that they can read quickly and easily and enjoy. How many times have you not talked about the book you read for a book discussion because it was just too hard to follow. (I do it all the time with British literature!) Of course there are adults who do like to read more challenging things, but for the most part adults recreational reading is pretty easy to read. That's why Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, Steven King and other authors are so popular. Many of the books written by best selling authors are written at an 8th-12th grade reading level. Some Danielle Steele books are written at a 5th grade reading level. Even some of the "deep" books that we read like Mitch Albom's are written at a 4th or 5th grade level.

As far as the comments on giving your daughter a challenge, that's what reading at school is for. At school students should be getting the coaching and support that they need to get them ready to read more challenging materials. Fun reading at home should be just that--fun! Forcing a child to read above their reading level (at the frustration level) for recreational reading is a good way to turn a kid off to reading. Especially if he or she is already a reluctant reader.

Compare it to a sport. If you are just learning a skill you have to start with the basics and work your way up to the more challenging aspects of that skill. Your coach is going to spend time challenging you to reach that next goal, but a good coach isn't going to leave you on your own to practice that more difficult skill if you aren't rock solid with the basics. And your personal attitude is going to play a huge part in that. If you think the skill is too hard, you are going to be less likely to practice it and use it. How many times have you given up on a workout video because the lady on the DVD is asking you to do things that are just too hard? The same goes for reading.

I teach my students all the time that when you are reading a book for fun (not a book a teacher has assigned or an assigned reading) if it isn't interesting or if it is too difficult to read it is OK to abandon it. I have many books on my bookshelves that have a bookmark halfway into the book where I stopped reading.

I totally agree that you should finish reading the book to your daughter. Lots of parents stop reading to their kids once they can read on their own, but no matter what age a kid is, reading aloud to them is extremely valuable. Most kids can understand books that are two or even three or more years above their reading level if it is read to them. I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my daughter when she was 4. I was amazed at the things she was able to pick up as we read. Hearing books above their reading level introduces kids to a much more difficult vocabulary than they can read on their own. When they finally can read independently at that more difficult level they are at an advantage because they are more familiar with the academic vocabulary (words that we rarely us in conversation but that we see frequently in print, like reverberate) at that level.

Don't just read aloud to her. Talk about the book and ask her questions about what is happening. Not the basic who, what, when, where questions like you would see on a multiple choice test, but the types of questions you would use with a book discussion group. Why do you think Harry responded to Hermione that way? What do you think Ron will do in response to what just happened? What would you have done if you were in Harry's shoes? Why do you think the author chose to end the chapter this way? What do you think will happen next? And don't just ask the questions, share your responses too. Don't quiz her on the book, have a discussion with her about the book. Those will be valuable opportunities for you to model what it is like to interact with a book and understand a book. And that is going to prepare her for reading more difficult texts.

It is perfectly fine to let her abandon the book. In a year or two she might want to try again to read it on her own. Talk to a librarian about other books that are like Harry Potter. You can also go to the Scholastic web site and look for the Book Wizard. It has a Book Alike feature where you can put in a book title and choose a reading level that is easier or more difficult and it will give you book ideas.

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answers from Washington DC on

i can't imagine forbidding my kids to read ANY book, especially a children's one! so what if she's just reading it to keep up with her friends? why is that a negative?
i was reading adult novels to my boys from elementary school on. if there were parts that were too 'adult' or complex or boring i could summarize and skim it, but i never dumbed down their reading.
our local elementary school had a short-lived community involvement program, during which i went in once a week and read HP aloud to the 3rd graders. we all loved it. but not surprisingly, the book nazis in the community shut it down because of the HP witchcraft nonsense.
give her back her harry potter!<<<
ETA to accommodate comically furious PM- since you clearly have control issues, which clearly impact this issue on many levels, here you go......
no, 'ALL' 8 or 9 year olds haven't finished the series.
but a lot have.
your daughter is probably not 'behind.' but i pity her having to run this gamut of angst if you have parameters this silly around the responses she's permitted to give you.
;) khairete

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answers from Milwaukee on

It sounds like you are saying that your daughter wanted to do something that her friends were doing, but wasn't up to the task, and as a result saw it as a chore to be completed. If that's wrong, I apologize, but it's what I am getting from your original post & the SWH.

I remember when I was growing up, in 2nd grade, I had an instructor that assigned us reading challenges 2x each year. We -had- to read 3 books, & do some type of report/project on them to turn in. -If- we read 33 books, also completing the project, we got a plaque award at her end of semester conference where our parents were invited.

She had a different theme for each challenge. For example, one I remember had a giant hen (teacher) surrounded by 33 eggs (books). Each student was a chick, & as we completed each book & project, our chick moved up an egg. It was all posted on a wall for everyone to see & be challenged by each other.

I had this teacher for 3 years. The first year, I only read the 3 required books. But oh man, when I saw the other kids getting their awards, I was jealous! I got 5 awards after that (one that year & both the following two years).

It sparked my desire to compete, & my participation in the challenge sparked my imagination through the books I read. I am now an avid bookworm, to the max. (Seriously, I read no less than 4 books at a time - 1 in the bedroom, bathroom, living room & car so I am never w/o)

It sounds like your daughter got caught up in a bit of a participatory/competitive excitement, & wanted to read the books along with her friends. But something is blocking her from getting true enjoyment out of it. I know the project that we had to do for each book initiated conversation with my parents about the book I read, as they helped me complete the project. I also had to present it to the class & explain how it represented the book I read.

Perhaps while her friends are also reading the books, they are not all talking as a group about what they are reading. Or her friends are ahead of her, and so she is not as included in the discussions. Maybe she is a bit over-faced by the context & language in the books. Fantasy can be a great genre to read, but there is "made up" language used that can be difficult to a beginning reader.

Have you/your husband actually read the books? I know you state you are not a fan, but if you read them & could ask your daughter about what part she is reading, & engage her in conversation about that, it might encourage her to continue, & develop her enthusiasm for reading.

Forced reading is a chore, & when the book is not interesting, or is difficult to understand, or to immerse yourself into the story, it can be disastrous for developing a desire to read. Reading skills have nothing to do with reading for a hobby - I know lawyers who can read texts beyond my comprehension, but don't find it enjoyable to sit down with a novel & escape.

My suggestion would be to reverse your standing on the Harry Potter books. Explain to your daughter that you/your husband have changed your mind about her reading them. That doesn't make your first decision bad, just that you think this one might work better for her.

Let her read the HP books, when she wants, for as long as she wants. But at the same time, she should pick out a different book, that she will read & tell you about, & give her a goal - maybe 15 min a day, or one book per week. (for longer, more challenging books, maybe 1-2 chapters or set # of pages per week)

That way, you allow her to keep her enthusiasm for reading that can be fostered through a book that is easier or perhaps more intersting to her, but also allow her to continue in challenging herself in the HP books, & develop her reading skills further.

And as I stated earlier, I think it could be very effective if you engaged in the books with her at this stage. Because overall, it sounds like you have a daughter that has the capability to read, but needs to nurture her desire & enthusiasm to do so.

Good luck!! T.

FYI - some of my favorite books at that age (& still!) were:

The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Nancy Drew Mystery series by Carolyn Keene (ghostwriter)

I enjoyed these books because the characters developed over the course of the series & there was continuity in the storyline, so I always had something to look forward to in the next book.

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answers from Seattle on

My 9 year old daughter has finished the entire series. She initially started reading the set last year whilst in 3rd grade. There's no reason to hinder your child's reading. Why keep her from reading something she wants to read? Now, if she no longer wants to then that's a different story.

Your child is not behind, the books are not too old, and I'm honestly not sure why you would tell her she can no longer read them just because she wants to be like her friends? Look at it this way, if reading a series of books is the worst thing she copies from her friends then you've got a pretty great kid.

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answers from Austin on

Reading is not a competition. in school we read to learn, but on our own time, we should read what we love. Why does she feel pressure to do what others think she should do? Empower her to not care. It is good to have our own opinions and to be strong enough to be proud of it. Being an individual s awesome, encourage it.. And if you hear others pressuring her, ack her up by saying, she tried reading HP, but relied it just is not anything that interests her..

I use to love reading as a child, I read everything. Comic books, magazines, the newspaper, cookbooks and I adored Biographies! Yes, I was 8 yrs old but was fascinated by the people in history books.. Not very cool, but I did not care.

Our daughter started reading it in 3rd grade.. That is the year it was published in the US. We also read it as a family and we are huge Harry Potter fans.

Are you also reading the books? do you all read them together and discuss them?

Some of our fondest memories as a family have involved reading, listening and discussing Harry potter.

As our daughter would say "Good Times, indeed!"

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answers from Cleveland on

I know you said no more replies but just wanted to say I get your annoyance. People act so smart yet they can't even read a question accurately. It's so ironic and maddening. They need to get off their high horses and take a minute before replying. Or maybe they're that stupid they can't understand a question. To answer yours, my oldest is 9 too and not finished with the series yet. She just finished #4. Not sure if she'll start #5 or not. My youngest is in 2nd grade and almost done with #2 but I don't think she'll read #3 for a while or ever. She isn't a big fan overall.

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answers from Anchorage on

My 9 year old could read it, but it would take him a while I am sure. I don't think she is behind per say, but I also don't agree the book is "too old", it was written for young adults about her age. There is nothing wrong with something being challenging, it is that extra challenge that can sometimes lead to extra growth. That is why I am a little confused by the question really, you ask if she is behind while taking away an item that could help her move ahead.

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answers from Chicago on

I think I would leave the book in her room but tell her it is for free time reading when ever she wants but that she has to do her 20 mins of reading on a different book. I think she is at 9 too young for that book. not that she can't read the words but that the content is too old for her. There are many many books she could physically read but that the content is not appropriate. The books came out when my son was 9. he read them as they came out. the last one came out when he was in college. the content is aging as well as the characters. she is not behind. but just because book 1 was for 9 year olds does not mean the last books are also for that age. there are murders and poisonings etc. I would have her start on something else and let her pick it up as she is ready.

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answers from Wichita Falls on

If she wants to keep up with her friends but the books are too much, check out the book on cd from you local library. She can read and listen at the same time.

PS If she is academically up to reading the book but having trouble, you may need to get her eyes examined.

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answers from New York on

My 10 yr old grandson finished reading the series last year and his 7.5 yr old brother is on the 2nd book. So yes children your daughter's age are reading the books.

As far as your daughter's case it seems like she only wants to read them because her friends are. How about splitting her time between a couple books? Have 3 nights a week be Harry Potter reading and the other 4 be another book of her choosing. That way she could get in the needed practice reading plus play along with her friends on HP reading.

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answers from San Francisco on

Okay, two separate issues here.
First, Harry Potter. The books were hugely popular when my son was in second grade. He wanted to read them but couldn't, so I started reading them to him. By third grade he could read them on his own. But he was a strong reader. Certainly MANY kids at that age can't read at that level. Nothing wrong or "behind" about that. Reading comprehension varies widely during the elementary school years. The later books are darker and more intense than the first few books but the messages (love, friendship, loyalty, family, etc.) are positive and powerful so I have no problem with that.
Second, forcing your child to read will not make them love reading any more than forcing them to eat a plate full of asparagus every day will make them love asparagus. In fact, it will likely have the opposite affect. YES, reading is important and necessary, but it is a skill to be encouraged and cultivated, NOT forced. My son read for pleasure all the time, summer included, but my daughters did not. Of course I made them read every day, as required for school, it was part of their homework. But beyond that, it was a choice.
My youngest daughter was like yours, too. She felt some peer pressure to read books that were hard for her, because they were popular, and because she wanted to be seen as more advanced than she was. That's okay. Your daughter will eventually figure it out. Mine finally did, at some point she realized reading was a lot more enjoyable when she could actually comprehend and enjoy what she was reading.
Just back off, and give her some space and time. Don't make reading akin to eating a plate full of something yucky.

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answers from New York on

I mean this in a nice way - what age are you imagining that Harry Potter was written for?

It was not written for teenagers!! Plenty of teens and adults enjoy it, but age 8/9 is pretty much what I'd describe as right-on-the-money age to read Harry Potter...if she wants to.

When you say you "force" her...I'm guessing you mean that you want her to read *something*, and she insists on reading HP if she reads anything at all? That might be an issue to discuss with her - "honey, dad and I want you to spend more time reading than you usually's okay if you want to read something other than HP though".

DO NOT take away her favorite challenge!! It's a great way to broaden her abilities (as long as she is not beating herself up about it out of frustration). I'm very familiar with growing up in the competitive towns of Bergen County - I think it's great that your daughter has found something she enjoys to exercise her will prepare her for the intellectual "competitions" to come.

ETA: I guessed it, yep - I was writing my post while you wrote your SWH. I totally understand your point in wanting her to read *more*. Seems like a good idea to add in some "easier" books.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Kids read for all different reasons, and if wanting to keep up with her friends is allowing your daughter to learn to love to read -- even if it's challenging -- then I see no issue with it. Why make her stop?

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answers from Norfolk on

I read the first and second Harry Potter books to our son when he was in 2nd grade.
We did a chapter at a time every night or anytime we had to wait for something and he could not get enough of it.
He struggled with reading at first but it really took off for him by the 2nd half of 2nd grade (it was the same way for me when I was in 2nd grade) and then there was no stopping him.
We moved and he started a new school for 3rd grade and he wanted to check out Harry Potter for himself from the school library.
(We liked to re-read them when a new book in the series was coming out soon so we would remember what was happening in the story).
The librarian thought it was too hard for him so she would not let him check it out unless he could prove he could read it.
So she had him read the first 2 pages out loud - and was totally surprised when he did it perfectly and would have happily read more pages out loud.
He's almost 15 now and is still very much into reading.
I sometimes have to take a recreational book away from him till his homework gets finished.
The last time the school tested his reading level (last year in 8th grade), his lexile score was 1700+ - which was the highest score his teacher had ever seen before - his score was off the scale.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to motivate kids to read?
That's why there are Accelerated Reader programs to help make it a bit competitive (you read the book then test your comprehension of it - high accumulated scores at the end of the year get pizza parties, ice cream, and/or trophies).
(Our son's basic problem with it was that he was reading middle school level books when the elementary school only had tests for elementary level books.)

She's not behind but encourage her to stretch herself with her reading ability.
3rd grade is a really pivotal year in that if the reading takes off and really sticks with her right now it will make a HUGE difference in the rest of her grades and throughout her entire life.
Whatever your daughter's motivation is - let her read what ever she wants!
By reading books that are slightly hard for her she will improve and she'll be drinking in the books before you know it.
A big beautiful wonderful story is a joy!
Help her a little at first by reading with her - you can read one page out loud and then she can read the next page out loud.
Make it something that you enjoy doing together.

After Harry Potter - there is so much more for her to read!
We are eagerly awaiting the next book in the Adventurers Wanted series to come out in November.
We can hardly wait!

Sorry - your initial post and SWH are confusing.
So she's balking at reading?
She's picking something too above her level and then regretting it and stalling on it?
Alright - I see what you mean - you need a different strategy.
I wouldn't abandon Harry Potter just yet.
Read it with her.
Don't tell her to read for 20 min and leave her to it - that only gets her watching the clock, counting the pages, and ticking down to where she can stop - that doesn't teach her to ENJOY reading.
You want her to enjoy the story, to get attached to the characters, to immerse herself in it and want to know what's going to happen next without caring how long it's taking her.
A good book is an adventure and a journey!
Make some time for reading every day - show her it's something you enjoy and it's something that's important to you.
Read it with her and make a game of it.
Take what ever time it takes to go through a whole chapter.
Snuggle up with her and you read one page out loud then she reads the next page out loud.
Help her sound out words that are difficult for her.
If she doesn't understand a sentence, explain what's happening.
You will both enjoy the time spent together.
It might take awhile (and multiple books) but eventually she won't need as much help.
Keep finding books/subjects that interest her.
Horses, mysteries, ghost stories, Helen Keller, Anne of Green Gables, pirates, A Christmas Carol (tough but worth it), the Wizard of Oz books (Dorothy and her Aunt and Uncle eventually all move to Oz), The Chronicles of Narnia, fairy tales, fables, tall stories, etc.
For our son, he eventually settled on wizards, magic and dragons.
Now when we get some new books (or used books - I use a lot), there is sometimes a scramble between him and me because we both want the same book at the same time.

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answers from Chicago on

None of my children have read the Harry Potter books and they are 15, 12 and 10. I'm the only Harry Potter fan in this house. :D

That being said, my 10 year old's teacher (5th Grade) is going to read aloud the first book in her class. That's fine with me. I think 10/11 is the right age to start them because they do get progressively longer and the story more complicated.

If your daughter is crying about reading her Harry Potter book, tell her she has to read something else. I'm a huge advocate of daily reading, but if it's too hard for her, she should put it down and revisit at another time. I'd say that of any book. You don't want her to hate reading.

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answers from New York on

My son has read the first 3 books and half of the fourth. He loved them, but then he just sort of moved on to another series.

They were a step up for him in terms of reading level, but it actually really strengthened his reading skills. That's what challenges do. They build skills.

Basically, I respect your concern, but I disagree rather strongly with your premise. If she chooses to read something (even if she balks at the prospect of reading in general), that's wonderful and should be celebrated. It's normal and healthy for kids to read both above and below their ideal grade levels. Reading challenging books builds incredibly important skills -- sounding out words, figuring out definitions from context -- basically, children become better readers by reading things that are just a wee bit too hard for them. If not for that, we'd all spend our entire lives reading Run, Spot, Run.

My own son will bounce back and forth between challenging books (the Rick Riordan / Percy Jackson books and the Chronicles of Narnia) and these much easier series like A-Z Mysteries and My Weird School. The latter of which I find annoying, but I bite my tongue b/c I know it's important for kids to reinforce their new skills with easier material (just like it's important to build new skills with harder material).

And, I would NOT be concerned about a thick book with small print at all. Kids have great vision, especially for close up. You almost never, ever, ever see anyone under 40 with reading glasses, let alone anyone under 10.

So, the short version of all this is: Her motivation is a wonderful thing. And there's no harm whatsoever in reading "up" a level or two. Just take a deep breath and repeat, 3 times at least, "Challenges build skills. Challenges build skills. Challenges build skills." Your daughter will do just fine.

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answers from Portland on

Wow-- you are really, really mean, y'know? If you were concerned that your daughter was behind in reading, why didn't you just ask the teacher instead of coming here, asking a very obscure question and then reaming everyone? NOT cool.

Sometimes I am just sorry I even take the time to answer some people's questions on this site. Epidemic over-reaction and meanness. hmmph.


I would say it really depends on the kid. First, I will clarify that I'm a mom of a six year old who is not yet interested, and I'm really not going to let him start that series until A. he's old enough (9 is fine) and then we'll stair-step those books gradually due to content. This will be family reading, not independent reading, because I want to talk about these themes with him.

Having worked in the library at my son's school, this is what I want to suggest: first, I know plenty of kids who 'read' Harry Potter at 9 or 10 but did not 'digest' the story. Which suggests that your daughters friends are likely drawing some of their knowledge of the books from the movies, maybe? Second, my guess is that your daughter is NOT behind, but rather actually just reading at grade level, unless you have heard otherwise from her teacher.

My suggestion would be to find out what her reading level is from the teacher and then talk to the school librarian about which titles might be a good fit. Our school uses the Renaissance Accelerated Reader rating system in the library, while some teacher use the Lexile or DRA systems. (My library project was stickering the books for color-coded levels, precisely so that children could find books which would be more of a pleasure to read.

Tell your daughter that you will have her read her 20minutes a day with something at her reading level and that's the rule; anything two or more levels above will have to be for pleasure. My son loves some of the Level Two Star Wars books DK puts out, however I do back him up to his own DRA level when he is reading to me for his 20 minutes. This is to help with fluency and facility. When she has some more appropriately-leveled books, I do think you will see your daughter's reading improve.

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answers from Albany on

My sons are 8 and 10 1/2. We started reading HP with him when he was in first grade because he wanted to. One of his best friends was reading it, and he thought he'd try it. He quickly lost interest, and we picked it up again toward the end of second grade. We then read through all 7 books in succession WITH HIM. He'd read a page (or two), and then we'd read to fulfill his 20 minutes (minimum) of reading per night. He was interested in it, and remembered details that *I* still can't remember (and I've now read all the books at least twice!). He also couldn't see the movie until he'd finished the book, and has commented (more than once) on how much MORE is in the book than in the movie.

We are finding more books that his friends are reading that I wouldn't necessarily have picked out for him, but he is interested in and is reading because someone else is reading it. (That's working both ways...he is also influencing some of his friends in genres they might not have otherwise looked at...) It's a good thing!

As for being too advanced...the rule in our school is pick a (full) page. If there are five words on that page that your child can't read or doesn't know the meaning of, it is too hard. As long as there are SOME words, it's a challenge, but that is how they grow in their reading. If they understand ALL the words, that's okay, too....reading is one of those things where quantity does trump quality. (I went to a family event at our library on getting/keeping your boys interested in illustrate his point, the speaker asked how many people had read The Twilight Series...almost every (Mom's) hand went up. "I'm pretty sure you are all older than 6th grade, and that is the level that book is written at...not FOR, mind you, but AT.")


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answers from San Francisco on

If your daughter is trying to keep up with the in crowd regarding reading then I'd say it is pretty good peer pressure. I understand she wants to be able to chime in when they are talking HP..she doesn't want to feel left out.

On the flip side- a mom I know how much pressure there is for you as a parent to help your child get a book, read the book and move on to the next one to fulfill the assignment for school.

We have a mandatory school program called the Accelerated Reader Program...I think most states use it. Starts around 3rd and goes through High School. I think the devil is behind this program...j/k!!

My kids have to read a specific amount of books per month and take a computerized test on it and pass the test with a 90% or better to then earn the required points for the trimester. It has taken the fun out of reading a book you are simply interested in...and out of taking your time to get through a book. We have had to turn down many books they were interested in because each book was not enough points, above their grade level or doesn't add up to the required number of points needed by the end of the month. Ugh! What about just picking up a flipping book and reading because it intrigues you?!? Can you tell I have issues...but this is not my is yours. I will stick to you :)

So, maybe you are in this same boat and wanting her to hurry along because of an assignment deadline??

My son has read the entire series and loved it. He started and finished them at age 10...and read them rather quickly. Most of his friends had already read them that year or before. They are a ton of A.R. points so that made teacher and M. happy.

I personally do not enjoy Harry Potter or fantasy books. I don't really even like the movies. I am just not into it. But our son LOVES it so we support him in it.

I don't think your daughter is deemed behind in reading because she is moving slowly through H.P. She loves it...and the idea of it..but she is not eating it up. I could have waved an ice cream cone in front of my son and he would't have noticed if he had a H.P. book in his hand. Your daughter loves it..but not enough to hurry through.

Let her keep reading it if that is what she wants to do...but maybe make a reasonable goal of when it needs to be done by. She has gotten to book #5..that is impressive. I stopped after page 10....BORING :)

Maybe in the goal making tell her that she needs to take a quick break and find another book to read and finish before getting Book #6...I don't remember how many there are.

Good luck and best wishes!!

***Had to come back and add because it just hit me. Your daughter is living a scenario I live out many times!!! This makes me think of my book club. Sometimes there are books I like..and sometimes ones I don't like very much. But...I read them because my friends are reading them and I love discussion time...and the food that is always there. :) Sounds maybe like the same scenario?? ***

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answers from Jacksonville on

It sounds like she loves Harry Potter the character, but she's only reading the books because her friends are. I think you did the right thing. My fourth grader is required to read at least twenty minutes per night. So the amount your DD willingly reads would not cut it. I don't think she's "behind", but those are some seriously long books! It sounds like she needs to explore other, shorter series, in that same reading level. My DD has no desire to read HP, even though she's more than capable of understanding it. She's reading the Wings of Fire series right now and will move on to Percy Jackson next. We also live in a very competitive area.

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answers from Salinas on

I see two issues here. One she's trying to fit in through reading what is popular and two it seems she doesn't really like to read.

Both my girls have been avid readers from a very young age, they love reading for pleasure. The oldest NEVER read single Harry Potter, had no interested at all. The little one read them around 8-9, enjoyed them but probably would not have picked it up in the first place if they were not so popular. At the time I felt they may have been a bit over her head but one thing we never censor in this house is books. If you want to read, you're allowed to read it.

So you can talk to her about why she wants to "follow" others and act like she likes something she really doesn't like. That's a very important theme to discuss that has nothing to do with reading. You need to help her figure out if she's going to choose what she does with her time herself or if she's going to let others choose that for her.

Secondly, you need to develop a love of reading in her right now. In our house I read aloud and have since they were babies. Obviously a lot less time for it now but my girls have always listened to me read books that were far too advanced for them to read themselves. What happens during that process is children develop a curiosity and love of literature. They crave those stories and want to read challenging material on their own.

Why not read a few pages of Harry and then have her read a few aloud to you? Share the "burden" of the more challenging text and share the story that she wants to hear. You can discuss the themes with her and make sure she understands what she's reading. The time is right now to really develop her comprehension and reading ability. When they hit high school the volume of reading is astounding. The less they see that as a burden the better!

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answers from Muncie on

Each child is different and each family is different. I read like a fiend now, but as a child I was hindered by my dyslexia and hated HAVING to read. Some kids are amazing readers, some are late bloomers. I couldn't tell you if an average 9 year old could handle Harry or not. I have a 8-9 year old SIL who's reading them, she's home schooled and very advanced, but not allowed to read the last 3 or 4 books due to them being so much darker then the first 3 or 4.

As for you daughter and this book. Don't make her read it, it's obviously too much of a challenge for her. However, if she loves it so much, you can try reading it to her as a reward for reading something more her level. Would this work for you?

Have you tried limiting how many pages at a time you would like for her to read? Maybe a whole chapter at a time is too much, but a page at a time might be better. You could also have her read to you, this would help you know just what is is she's struggling with and give you a chance to help her with the tougher words.

Is this the kind of answer you were looking for?

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answers from Washington DC on

No. Your daughter is fine.
My 12 year old has seen the moves (not the 2 latest), but hasn't read the books. To me, there is a difference between watching a movie and reading a book. The book does spark your imagination, but given the topic, I didn't want my kids imagination to run over itself.

If your daughter wants to read them, let her read them at her own pace. If she is doing it as part of her reading time for her homework, ask her to find a different book for the homework and have HP be for 'fun'. It sounds like she is just about done with them as they aren't holding her interest. I probably wouldn't put my foot down, or push at this point.

Books my son liked at 9y (read above level also)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection
- Holes

Books I tried to get him to read
- Hoot
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- 39 Clues collection
(numerous others)

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answers from Springfield on

I really can't imagine saying she's "behind." I was very curious about your post because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Harry Potter and would love to share it with my boys. But they are only 4 and 7, so I must wait. My 4 year old really isn't interested, and that is fine. My 7 year old would love for me to read all the books to him and watch all the movies. I read the first two books to him and let him watch the first three movies, but I'm very hesitant to go on at this point.

If other kids have read all the books, I would have trouble believing the really understood them completely. The 5th book is a biggy, the main characters are 15 and there are things going on politically (ie, outside of Hogwarts). Also, the books are almost 100% told from Harry's perspective. So it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was not enjoying this book, as she really has nothing in common with a 15 year old boy. I really have to give kudos to Rowling, because she does an amazing job of writing each book from the perspective of a boy that age!

Do you think she'd consider rereading Books 1-4? I have read all of the books multiple times, and every time I notice something new. Also, reading them a year or two later will mean that she will be a year or two more mature and might understand part of it better.

It is very hard to suggest something else if she really loves Harry Potter. The series I hear it compared to the most are all too old for her (Twilight, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games). You could always try the Chronicles of Narnia. I never got into them myself, but if she watches one of the movies, she might be interested.

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answers from Jacksonville on

No, all kids those ages have not read them.

My son never did read any of them. He isn't what I'd call "a reader." He can read fine, very well actually. But he doesn't enjoy doing it for fun. He's 15.

Daughter, however, has always LOVED reading and is a big reader and well above her level and always has been. She's pretty a pretty voracious reader if she gets into style/series of books that she enjoys. But she really didn't develop an interest in reading Harry Potter until last year. Both my kids saw the movies as they were coming, except maybe the last one(?), so maybe that was a factor. Anyway, daughter had no interest in reading them until she was trying to find some books she could read for AR points at school. She pulled those up and while the early ones would not count towards her "homework" reading (the grade level/lexile rating was too low for her, in 6th grade) the later ones did, and she could earn AR points for all of them. So, she jumped in. She flew through the entire series of books in about 6-8 weeks.
That was age 11, and 6th grade.
I know there are some kids who read them much earlier than she did. But I don't think "most" kids have read them by age 8 or 9. I'd say there might have been a ton of kids reading them at those ages (as they were being released), but not that had already completed reading the entire series.

It's a tough call for you, if your daughter will read these and you are trying to encourage a reluctant reader to read. But, it is also a good lesson to teach her that she doesn't always have to be doing what her friends or "everyone else" is doing. Our kids learned that pretty early and do their own thing, whatever it happens to be. Help your daughter find what SHE likes. Maybe her friends will be interested in reading something they see her reading and enjoying. I'm sure part of her wanting to read it is that it is probably a big part of their conversations at school, if she has multiple friends reading the series. But, those conversations will be short lived and they will move on.
Also, is she is 3rd grade or about to go into 4th? Either way, she should have been assessed on her reading ability at school last year, and you should have been given a Lexile reading score (or you might have to ask for it). I am assuming that all the elementary school libraries have their books rated, but possibly not. Anyway, let her find books that are interesting to her, but check the lexile rating for them. The early Harry Potter books are rated anywhere from 3rd-6th grade, if memory serves me correctly, and she may be on one of the higher rated ones. The later ones go up to 7th and 8th grade. (Lexile scores is a numbers range, not a grade range, but each grade has what they consider a "norm" for the grade level. Some kids read above the norm and some below, etc. This information will be helpful to you not just relative to the Harry Potter books, but for ALL your daughter's book selections).

Sorry to keep adding.
According to this page (which explains lexile scores somewhat) the first Harry Potter book is rated at 880L. So if your daughter is reading in the lexile range of 750, then yes, it might be too much of a challenge for her and not fun at all.

If you have her lexile scores:
(sorry, adding again)

According to this, Book 5 has a lexile rating of 950L, which is 70 points higher than books 1, 3, and 4. (only 10 points higher than book #2). The next book (Book 6 is even higher, rated 1030L)... so it may just be a bit too difficult to be enjoyable for her. Not just content-wise, but actual language reading.

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answers from Spokane on

My son started to read them in 3rd grade. He tried and tried to get into them but could't. We put them away and will get them out if/when he decides to try them again.
I really enjoyed them but he just didn't care for them at all. And this is the kid who reads everything from labels at the store to hunting magazines to sports illustrated to pretty much any book he can get his hands on.

Could it be that she wants to like them b/c her friends do but didn't really care for them?

After your SWH: can you give her 10 minutes with Harry Potter then an add'l 10 minutes with a different book?

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answers from Honolulu on

Okay, yes, SOME kids, will read a book or books, JUST BECAUSE their classmates are. It then becomes a keeping up with the Jones' type thing.
SO you discuss that with your child. SO that, they learn who they are themselves, and not by comparing themselves with all the other kids. A kid, needs to know themselves, and who they are. As a person.
Because, if a kid is always trying to "be" and "do" what all the other kids are doing just because it is popular, then they are just not thinking, for themselves.

At this age that your daughter is, kids read that book series.
When my daughter was in 3rd and 4th grade, that is what ALL the kids were reading. It was the thing to do. As well as some other book series. So I asked my daughter, (out of curiosity), why she isn't reading those Harry Potter books? She said, "I don't like that series. I like other books better." Fine. I was proud of her. Because, at that age she already KNEW for herself, what book genres SHE liked. And she did not care for the Harry Potter series. Even if all her friends and classmates were, reading it. She has always just done, what her preferences are. And per whatever book genres she chooses to read. Because, she knows, herself.
And that is important, for any kid.
Not just going by what everyone else, is doing.

So no, my daughter has not, read that series. Sure, she opened it up and read a few pages, because her friends would show it to her or lend it to her. But she does not like that series or genre. Good for her, is what I say. And she has no problems, being a kid that has not read it.
Her Teachers, in 3rd and 4th grade, were well aware all the kids were reading the Harry Potter series. And they said, its all the rage now. Fine. But that, it does not mean, that it is good for every kid. And that, reading is not a "race" or about who read the fastest or not. Reading should be, enjoyable and comprehensible, for the child, per age and grade.

Per my kids, they each had and have their own reading range. And they each have their own book genre preferences.
And I teach them, that every kid is different... per what they read or not. And its okay. But that knowing what THEY like or not, is important.

The thing is, per daily reading for homework, a kid should be reading something that THEY choose and which they enjoy and is appropriate. Hence, they will read without being forced. Since the Harry Potter book is not "required" reading for class, then just choose another book to read.
She is just reading it, because the other kids are.
She needs to know her own cues and likes/dislikes about a book.
And to know how to choose books or genres, that SHE likes.
Also, you said your daughter is in the middle of Book #5. But it seems like she is getting tired of it.
By now.
I would just let her stop.
I mean, the reading for 20 minutes a day daily required reading per school, to me, is reading something that is enjoyed.
And she already went through the other 4 books of that series.
And so what if some kids read ALL of the series.
Trying to keep up with the Jones', is not a "reason."

Anyway, other books that were read a lot in 4th and 5th grade, when my daughter was that grade was:
the "Percy Jackson" series (my daughter did not like this series).
"The Books Of Elsewhere" series
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" series
"The Sisters Grimm" series
My daughter read those, and loved it. But she does not like the Harry Potter series.

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answers from Longview on

I think its fine. Those books came out when I was in the fourth grade and I loved reading them.

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answers from New York on

I don't personally want my child to read harry potter because it engages in a lot of witchcraft. I think there is too much out there today which focuses on evil practices of witchcraft, vampires, and magic, which are gradually pulling children away from the values and traditions that I was raised with and would like to pass down to my children. I am taught as a Christian that witchcraft is not of God and I therefore do not want my children to dabble in it. Dabbling may seem perfectly innocent but it is engaging with spirits which I do not want in my life or my childs life.



answers from Oklahoma City on

In my opinion if she's actually reading the books then she's fine. My 10 year old read the Twilight books. Well, I think she read the first 2 or 3. I bought them all. I enjoy reading the books more that the movies as a general rule.

Sometimes kids need that peer pressure to do something that parents can't even hope to get their kids to do. That's why peer pressure will often get kids to do drugs, take bad chances, and much more.

I'd be okay with this. BUT since she's having such a hard time I am going to suggest you take her in for an eye evaluation. She may have some reading issues.

I had one friend who can only read if she puts a rose colored pair of glasses on. The change what her brain does with the printed word some how. My grandson had to do eye exercises every night for about 6 months. He used a pair of glasses that looked like the ones that Nicholas Cage's character in National Treasure used to read the back of The Declaration of Independence. As he was working we'd switch the lenses and he'd have different things happen between his brain and his eyes.

She may even have something like Dyslexia. It might be mild but effecting her.



answers from Binghamton on

I read it aloud to my kids starting when the eldest was 12 and the youngest 9. We finished the series together in a year, except that the eldest read the last book to herself and I had the little one wait until she was 12 before I read it to her. She had no problem with that, but her very best friend had not read them at all so there was no social pressure on her.

I am a huge fan and reading them aloud was so much fun. But that's me, your daughter may want something very different.

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