We’re big Harry Potter fans in our family, and I’ve slowly started to read them with my boys. Here’s how we handle it in our family, when we started reading them, and other answers to your questions!
Let’s talk about reading Harry Potter to your kids
Every time I mention reading Harry Potter with my boys, I get a flood of questions about when to start reading with your kids, what our plans for future books are, and other things!
So today I’m answering all your Harry Potter read aloud related questions.
If you have more questions that aren’t included here, feel free to leave a comment below or over on Instagram!
Harry Potter read aloud questions
Q. What age did you start?
I think we started when my older boys were eight and six. I planned to just read to the older boys since my youngest was three at the time, but he was so unhappy to be left out that I finally ended up letting him sit in and listen.
It’s a pretty personal choice, but I think the biggest factor is how well your kids can follow a storyline. These books are complex, with lots of characters to follow, so starting at age three is not recommended. Even six years old was pretty young to follow the story, but he had listened to tons of audiobooks that were on a similar level, so he ended up doing great.
I get lots of questions about starting with a three or four year old, and I just think that’s much too young if that’s your oldest child. Remember, Harry is eleven in the first book, so getting your kids closer to that age feels more appropriate to me.
Q. Are you worried about content with witchcraft and being a Christian?
I’m not. Again, it’s a personal choice and I won’t tell you what’s best for your family. But for me, there’s a big difference between witchcraft books and magical books. Harry Potter is magical! We read lots of books with magic in them, and my kids know it’s very much pretend.
Q. Do you read them the updated illustrated versions? would that be better for a 7 year old?
We have all four of the illustrated versions and they’re FANTASTIC! I think it helps kids’ imagination a ton to have an occasional picture in the book. Highly recommnend these.
Q. Do you “censor” language/scary scenes as you read?
Yes, I censor the language (there’s very little, but maybe 4-5 swear words scattered throughout the books we’ve read).
I don’t censor the scary scenes — there’s nothing too graphic or scary that seemed inappropriate for my kids. If your kids will have nightmares, I’d recommend waiting another year or two to read the books. There’s no rush!
Q. Youngest age child you’d recommend for each of the books
I mentioned this above, but it’s tricky when your kids are all different ages. The youngest children always get included in things you wouldn’t ever do with your oldest at their age. But that’s just life.
So Sanny was three when we started the first book, but he understood very little of it, so I wasn’t worried about it. He just enjoyed sitting in the room and being with the family.
If you’re just reading to one child, I’d wait until 7 or 8, I think, to read the first book.
Harry is seventeen in the last book, so the content feels much more appropriate for a tween or teen.
Q. How did you keep kids interested at first?
This is something I had forgotten — the first book starts out very slow. It was probably five chapters before my kids started to get into it (and the chapters are long).
But most books take time to get into! So just keep plowing through.
Q. Is it too dark/scary for your kids?
I think book four is when it starts getting dark. So we read the first three books all together, but then paused for book four. I just finished reading book four to my eleven year old, because he’s very mature and he was ready. And it wasn’t too scary for him at all.
I was actually surprised when I read books 1-3 with the boys how the endings really were not very dark or scary. They’re pretty tame, and the scary parts were not drawn out at all — especially book one.
Q. What book does it start to get too scary for kids? Book 4?
Yes! I recommend waiting on this one for sure.
Q. How much do you read a night?
I really like to read one chapter, but the chapters are long, and sometimes it gets too late to read an entire chapter. Of course there’s always an uproar when I stop reading mid chapter (and even sometimes when I finish the chapter).
Usually I read for about thirty minutes.
Q. Do you let them watch the movies before or after reading a book?
I let them watch it after. I think it’s fun for their imagination to go wild while reading without visualizing the movie characters, and also I like for the endings to be a surprise as we read.
The movies are scarier than the books, in my opinion. So you may want to wait on the movies!
Q. How to do it with kids of multiple ages? Do the youngest feel left out?
I addressed this above, but yes, my youngest felt very left out when we read without him. I’d put him to bed, and then he’d sneak into the hall and hear us reading and he’d come in sobbing that he was left out. So that’s why I ended up letting him listen in on the first three books.
And lots of things went over his head, so I didn’t worry about it.
When I read book four to my oldest, we’d read together in my room after school while the other boys were doing quiet time. They were jealous they couldn’t read, but I’ve explained that they’ll have bad dreams if they read it so we’ll wait til they’re older.
Q. Do you ever read it on your own/your kid on his own?
I’ve already read all the books years ago. But if I was reading them for the first time with them, I’m sure I’d be tempted to read on my own without them knowing.
None of my kids have ever sneakily read ahead when we’re reading them together – they don’t have that kind of personality so we haven’t ever had an issue with that.
Both of my older boys have gone back and re-read some of the books now that we’ve finished them, and I love that!
Q. Do you use voices?
Yes! I’m very inconsistent with them, but I think it’s fun. I don’t do accents (unless it’s written into the story, like Fleur Delacour), but I’ll go higher for the house elves, lower for Mad Eye Moody, etc.
It makes it more fun to listen and more fun to read!
Q. Read out loud vs audiobook?
This is totally a personal preference. I LOVE reading them aloud, so that’s my preference. But the audiobooks with Jim Dale are FANTASTIC, so it would be fun to listen to them together.
I just think one of the best parts of reading a book aloud is that “together experience.” We laugh, cry, and imagine together! You can absolutely do that with an audiobook too.
But I don’t want my kids to read them on their own when they’re reading the books for the first time, because watching them experience the magic is basically what I live for as a mom.
Q. Do your kids ask a lot of questions? Does it ruin the flow?
It depends on the day. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. And yes, it can ruin the flow and does sometimes drive me nuts if it’s making me stop over and over. But also I think explaining things is just part of the process of reading aloud, and I want them to be able to understand the story.
If they keep asking questions incessantly, I’ll put my hand up while I’m reading and then when I get to a good stopping point I’ll stop reading and let them talk.
I’ll also stop on my own sometimes and define a word or explain something if I can tell it’s going over their heads.
Q. When will you read the rest of the books?
I started reading to the first book to them at the end of 2017 and planned to read one book every fall. It felt fun and like a good back-to-school book.
But I’ve kind of ditched that plan because my younger two aren’t quite ready for number four (and we finished number 3 in 2019), and I’m reading the next books with my oldest, in addition to reading a different read aloud book at night as a family.
Also I’m inclined to keep reading through number seven with my oldest because I’m afraid all his friends are going to have read all the books soon and they’ll ruin it for him. I want him to experience the surprises, so I think we’ll just slowly plow ahead and get through all seven. We’re a few chapters into book five, so I’m guessing we’ll get through all seven in the next year and I think he’s definitely mature enough to handle them all.
Have any more questions? I’m happy to answer!
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