Monday, July 23, 2007


Yes, the inevitable post-HP post. For the 5 people in the world who haven't got a copy and read it already, don't worry, no spoilers ahead (or at least, I hope not, I've tried anyway).

The thing that interested me the most as I read it, and afterwards, was the language and the themes, and how they would be read by kids - kids under about 10 or 12 especially. At one point in the book, Ron says "effing". I have no problem with "bad" language and it was totally realistic both in the context and for a 17 year old boy generally (in fact, I suspect most would probably say the word infull, not use the shortened term!). But how would it be taken by a child?

And more importantly, how would a child deal with the violence in the book? Of course, there's been increasing levels of violence (both in the present and in past events the books discuss) but in this one it's very much in the present, to characters (in some cases) who we know, and it is for fun or enjoyed by the perpetrators.

I'm not a parent, or an educator and I don't have any theories on how well a child would deal with this in the context of a fantasy world, albeit one which is much loved. It just interested me, because in a lot of ways, I think the books have become adult books, rather than kid's books. Maybe I had the wrong impression from the start!


amy said...

I believe Rowling intended the themes, language, etc to age along with the characters, so that this book, with adolescent characters, isn't intended for 10-year-olds. While we've read the Narnia series several times over to my five-year-old (per his request), we haven't even begun the HP books. As a parent, I'd say it depends upon the child, their maturity, their ability to separate reality from fantasy... on the other hand, it's so valuable to work these issues out within the context of a fantasy world before they are confronted in the real world. I think of the fantasy worlds I loved as a child: Narnia, Prydain, Madeleine L'Engle's books...
Anyway. I don't have a clear answer. I don't think Rowling intended this book for younger kids, though.

chocolatetrudi said...

The books, I believe, were meant to 'grow up' with Harry, and the kids that read them. By the time he and readers were in their teens, they'd be written for an 'older' audience.

Of course, JK couldn't have known when she started that they'd be so popular, and this idea might not work so well, what with kids picking up the entire series and reading it in mere weeks not years!

Donna said...

Em's 14, and she'd devoured it by 8.30pm Saturday (and that included 3 hours of dance lessons on the middle!) I haven't read it, but David filled me in on the pertinent bits. Mind you, I haven't read book 6 yet, either. The language? I could tell you some awful stories about language! From 12 year olds no less. Em doesn't swear when I'm around, but I'm sure there's a certain amount going on when I'm not around.
She cried and she laughed and there were occasional gasps coming from the lounge, but I certainly don't think she was frightened or she misunderstood anything. Sunday morning,her and David had a very animated discussion about the book and the ending, and nothing seemed to have gone over her head.
But as Amy and Trudy mentioned, she grew up on the books. She's a huge HP fan, and was maybe 9 or 10 when she read the first one.
And now they're all falling apart from so many re-reads.

Diana said...

I think you're right about the books even though I am one of the five people who have never read them!! The witchcraft is what bothers me. I think there are other literature option much better for kids, Narnia and the Redwall series to name a couple. I'm glad kids are reading but the draw of witchcraft is not exactly a healthy one.

Nora said...

Well J, I'm one of the 5 people in the world who hasn't read any of the HP books!!
Heh, bet you didn't know that one.

Julie said...

That was my first response, too, that it wasn't a kid's book. And of course that it would very much depend on the child, as to what age would be appropriate. Maybe it's just my biased attitude, but I have a feeling that kids willing to read a 750 page book for fun are on the higher side of the intelligence scale and able to handle more adult themes.

But I know in reality that's not always the case.

I guess the only answer is, there isn't an answer. Which is typical with child-rearing questions.

Donna Lee said...

When the books first came out and my children were young, they were given a set of the first three and devoured them. I, being a curious mother, read the first one to see what my girls were reading.(For that same reason, I read some Japanese anime). That was it, I was hooked. I have enjoyed reading and then discussing each book as it was published. The insights into the characters that the girls showed was amazing. Now they are grown and I am waiting until we all finish the book so we can talk about it. What fun!

Bells said...

oh what interesting discussion. I'm not a HP reader but I can talk about this more broadly.

For some reason I'm more ok with kids reading slightly more adult material than I am watching it. Perhaps that's because as a kid I always read a little above my years and really, honestly don't think it did me any harm. I think I self monitored. If something was too shocking or scary, I stopped reading it. I reckon most kids would.

Movies on the other hand, they'll just sit and watch and absorb because that's what we all do. We just sit and absorb.

It's just a theory though.

Shazmina Bendi said...

Have you finished it?? Interesting discussion and comments. I agree with Bells, I too have less of a problem with kids reading adult material/themed books than watching it on the big screen.

Queen of the froggers. said...

My son is 10 and devours all the HP books over and over again. He has just started the new one and I am desperatly trying to read the one before, only so that I can discuss the issues in the books with him. I am not sure what to think about it really until I have read it, and yes, I would rather be reading something else!

Snoozen said...

My elder sister has read every HP book with her three kids, they would read them as a family as it was cheaper then buying three copies and then trying to workout who would get it first. They have now grown up and range from 18-15 so the language may not be as much of an issue now. But having read RRs review I would as a parent of two small kids want to read it prior to reading it to them or allowing them to read it. Having said that when you think about alot of kids stories they are really quite dark and Hansel and Gretel

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you're saying. I'm letting my 11 year-old read it, but my 8 year-old is just getting stared on the series. This last book would be waaaaay over his head.

knitabulous said...

It is violent, there's death, there's a child who has been given no love - gee it's almost Dickensian. In it simplest form there's a very old-fashioned superhero good vs criminal mastermind evil storyline - (I think the end is pretty lame actually) but the good does triumph over the evil - so the moral of the story is that crime doesn't pay. Which is more than I can say for Grand Theft Auto.

Kids are being exposed to a shedload of age-inappropriate influences these days from tv and other media, they see bizarre celebrity behaviour - sometimes even their older siblings and parents aren't perfect role models. Not to mention the toys, the clothes, the music videos, the vidoe games, the song lyrics.

Let's face it. It's all bad.

But are we doomed? I don't think so. I think that in spite of all these influences, our kids are still OUR kids, and will be most heavily influenced by what their parents do, and what they experience in their everyday lives, not what they read for recreation.

In my opinion if you have a ten year old in Australia who is able to read it you probably haven't got anything to worry about at all.