I've wondered for quite some time about what age to begin reading Harry Potter to my son. Thirty-eight, it turns out. Oh, and the boy's nine. At this point, I'm not planning on reading straight through the series; we'll probably lay off for a few months before moving on, if we move on at all.
Back when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first came out, I was a bit disgusted with all the negative press from Christian circles and decided to read the book for myself, after a recommendation from my little sister. Her word carries a lot of weight with me. So I read the first book and was entirely delighted. Of course, there are some parts in the book that could give a kid the creepies, and there are certainly some unfortunate tendencies in Harry and his friends to color outside the lines.
But the biggest reason I'm questioning continuing the series has nothing to do with the content of the book. It's just that I didn't like the first book as a read-aloud. Maybe it's just that J.K. Rowling was just introducing the universe, but I found it a bit wordy. Reading to myself I didn't notice this, but as a read-aloud, I just found the chapters a bit too long and the prose just seemed to have "too many notes."
Of course, in amongst the too many notes are gems like this:
Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.
Love that. I actually feel that this indictment of Mr. Dursley nicely sends up that vocal group of people who criticized the book back when it first came out without reading it.
Now, all this about too many notes of course doesn't mean I didn't like the book. This was my third time through, and the first I've read it since finishing the entire series, so I got that wonderful hindsight insight. Great stuff. And let me just say that I have a man crush on Neville. He's just a straight up stud, folks. Where his character ends up is exactly true to how he started out.
Now, if I'm being completely honest here, I have to admit that part of my hampered enjoyment of the read-aloud came from my vocal circuits getting a bit overloaded. This is a problem that comes from reading a book after having seen the film. Particularly one with wall-to-wall accents. I just can't do them all and read in a nice flow. It's just not going to happen.
I can do a pretty mean Hagrid and a passable Dumbledore (Richard Harris version), my Ron goes in and out, and my McGonagall is probably better than it should be. But I cannot do Snape to save my life, and I've seen *tons* of Alan Rickman movies. (I vented about this failing of mine to the Boy and he took the opportunity to tell me I do an awesome Malfoy. That made me feel better, though I'm not sure what I did right other than basically spit every word he spoke.)
With any luck I'll finish up my last remaining Library book (I took the other one back) this week, and then I'm going to read a few I've bought recently. Maybe I'll put together a preview post for my planned reading. Maybe.