Monday, July 27, 2009

How Young is Too Young? Plus, Half-Blood Prince.

I liked this story in our local Star Tribune (courtesy of Associated Press). It talks about how second-generation Harry Potter fans don’t get the chance to “grow up” alongside Harry. If you were 10 when Sorcerer’s Stone came out, then you were 20 when Deathly Hollows hit shelves. At 20, you’re prepared for the darkness of death and war that takes place in the seventh book.

However, if you’re a parent interested in starting your kids on Potter now, and if they really enjoy them, you could end up going from book one to book seven in as little as a year or two (or less). Would your 8-year-old be ready for Deathly Hollows? Your 10-year-old? And if not, how do you tell them, “I know you love Harry, but we have to wait until you’re older to keep going…”

But, as the article says, maybe that’s exactly what you have to do. I loved the story of the 9-year-old boy who was reading Half-Blood Prince before the movie came out this month. Before he gets to the end, he’s so upset he stops reading and tells his dad to sell his movie ticket; he’s not going.

I completely understand, kid. Half-Blood is brutal. I’m surprised he even got through Order of the Phoenix. That ending just about killed me. And I was 22 when I read it.

There are plenty of books like this out there, too—series that grow as their characters grow (Traveling Pants, Twilight). From innocent kisses to sex. From talking it through to major violence. So, if you’re lucky to be there at the beginning, the transition is usually seamless. But if you’re second-generation readers, or parents who can’t wait for your kids to love Harry or Carmen or Bella as much as you did, then you have some thinking to do.

What do you think? How do you rein in little readers if they’re diving into territory they shouldn’t be? What other books offer up this conundrum?


I saw Half-Blood Prince over the weekend and I really enjoyed it. Big surprise, huh? I did think it was a touch too long. I can imagine how hard it is to cut down one of those books to fit a movie, but I think even if it were just 20 minutes shorter, that would've made a difference, and maybe left a little more time to make the ending a bit more impactful. Overall, the movies have come a long way. They keep getting more exciting, more humorous and more mature. It's probably because the kids keep growing up, but I like the movies more and more as the series goes on.


Anonymous said...

Funny that story comes out now. My aunt is currently struggling with the same thing. They started reading the books to and are watching the movies with my eight-year-old cousin and are debating how far to go while she's this young. I told them to stop after the third for a while but my aunt hasn't read the books or seen the movies (and therefore doesn't know how sad/scary it gets) and kind of wants to keep going (they are starting the second book now and have watched the first three movies). Her plan is to have her watch the movies during the day time to lessen the effects of the scary parts. We'll see.

jessi said...

Hrm. My mom's philosophy was pretty much, if it's too mature for me to be reading/watching, then I probably won't understand it. And if I do, then she has bigger problems. :) My big death books were Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia, both of which I read when I was really young. And Judy Blume pretty much covered sex for me in middle school. My 10-year-old nephew has shown no interest in Harry Potter, sadly, although he does enjoy other books. My sister (his stepmom) tries to limit his exposure to inappropriate TV shows/movies/etc, but his mom pretty much lets him watch or read whatever he wants. He was completely unfazed by The Dark Knight and Terminator: Salvation, but I was a bit distressed that he was actually allowed to watch those two movies.

I thought HBP was okay. It wasn't my favorite HP movie, but some stuff (quidditch, Felix Felicis) were done really well. Other stuff - the Christmas Burrow scene?!, the "fight" at the end - not so much. I can't wait to see what they do with Deathly Hallows.

A. said...


My husband tells me stories of watching Predator (rated R) when he was 6 years old or something. He saw Terminator 2 (also rated R) at age 10. Too young in my opinion to see such movies... and I agree the same can go for books.

I also agree that the "fight" at the end of HBP was disappointing, which is why I thought maybe if they cut from the rest of the movie, they could've made this more exciting. I know Quidditch matches may not always seem necessary to the story line, but visually they are some of my most favorite parts of the movies!

(As for Christmas at the Burrow, maybe they created the beginning Burrow scene (which was very reminiscent of Signs) to make the Christmas scene obsolete? I have forgotten parts of the book though, so maybe I'm way off...)