Harry Potter and the Development of Christopher19 May 2006
A couple of months ago we started reading Harry Potter to Christopher, evenings before he goes to sleep, usually a chapter or somewhat less per night. We've just finished Chamber of Secrets (the 2nd book). He's very excited about it. Sometimes he puts on a tie and a cape and goes around with a magic wand putting spells on things and people. He's also drawn some elaborate scenes from the books in Kindergarten.
So, is Harry Potter appropriate for a six-year-old?
The teachers and child care professionals we've told about it have had no misgivings, but most of the parents we've mentioned it to have questioned our judgement. Most of the parents, though, hadn't read the books, but had seen scenes from the movies.
Christopher has seen ads for the movies on TV, and that's how he knew about Harry Potter in the first place. The movies are inappropriate for his age, of course, but we let him watch the DVDs only with our supervision and only for the scenes we have already read in the books. He's adept with the remote control, and accepts our restriction. "Do you know where we stopped reading? Do I have to rewind now?"
We also trust that he's beyond the age for confusing fantasy and reality. "I'm just playing", he says when he puts "spells" on us. "There's no such thing as magic anymore." He's been playing with Lego Bionicles for nearly a year, they also have a storyline of good versus evil. Good always wins, but evil never dies.
Christopher comprehends an amazing amount from the books. We have to the chance when reading to make sure he understands. He always has questions, but almost always about what is about to happen next. "We just have to keep reading." He doesn't understand everything, but the bit about Voldemort living without physical body is a tough concept for anyone.
We find that Harry Potter is an ideal hero for a young stutterer about to start school. Harry is different from everyone else, he's misunderstood, and he's someone special. He cannot control how others react to him, he can only deal with it the best he can, and do what's best for himself.