JK Rowling’s Harry Potter: Readers will perhaps forever remain indebted to JK Rowling for opening up before them a whole new world of imaginative possibilities. The Harry Potter series with its charm and magic has touched the hearts of so many young readers, making its way into the list of must-reads.
“Harry Potter has magic, humour, pathos, suspense and fast paced action, It amalgamates numerous genres into one series. While it’s basically fantasy, it is also school story, mystery, adventure and horror. The hero is utterly appealing and if you look into traditions of children’s literature, it’s the ’empowered orphan’ that has always held children’s imaginations,” said author Deepa Agarwal.
Naturally, parents, who are book enthusiasts and fans of JK Rowling themselves, of course, make sure their kids read Harry Potter, often giving them to very young children to read. As engaging as the books are, parents can’t rush their kids into the reading these books. To fully appreciate the beauty of Harry Potter, they should ideally start reading it only after a certain age. For one, there are certain practical constraints, such as understanding the meaning of certain words or the nuances in the narrative, which children might not be able to grapple with before they are of the appropriate age.
“I can state from experience that it has now become something of a contest among many parents who are naturally competitive to talk about how early their child read Harry Potter. I am not saying that there are no young children of ages seven and eight who are not able to enjoy at least the first three books of the series, but it is not every child. And sometimes one meets parents hauling in a seven-year-old and dismissing all books which one would normally recommend for seven-year-olds, saying ‘What is this? He has read Harry Potter!’ Give him something for older kids,” said Sayoni Basu, who runs children’s publishing house Duckbill.
Basu points out that the first three books of Harry Potter are more child-friendly than the rest. “So one of the challenges that a child who starts reading Potter at eight faces is that there is a need to stop, usually after Book 4, and then perhaps wait a couple of years until they read the later ones. Which is most unsatisfying. I forced my son to do this, and much domestic conflict ensued. I am not sure I have yet been forgiven,” she expressed.
So, what is the right age to introduce kids to Harry Potter? Not before the age of nine or 10. Agarwal said, “I would say, not below nine years. I know some ambitious parents are eager to make seven-year-olds read Harry Potter but I feel that it’s important for a kid to grasp all the nuances to fully appreciate a book. The later titles in the series definitely come into the young adult category, so I would say 10 plus for those.”
Professor of psychology and author Tanu Shree Singh agrees. “(Kids should be) roughly around 8-9 years. Quite a few parents have the misconception that since an illustrated version is available, it is perfect for the younger lot. It isn’t. Younger children will not be able to enjoy the depth and layers of the books…my older one started at roughly 9 and the younger one around 11. In fact, he had thrown it aside at eight, much to the disapproval of the older one. Then one fine day he comes and says ‘Whoa’. The boy had read his first Harry Potter. He has re-read them multiple times since then,” she added.