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Growing Up With Harry Potter
By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media Parenting Editor
Does anyone remember life before Harry Potter? In our house, we divide my son's reading interests into two distinct eras, B.H.P. (Before Harry Potter -- when Captain Underpants ruled our world) and A.H.P. (After Harry Potter -- when the Ministry of Magic took over).
I'll never forget the day our son proudly boasted that he could read the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, all by himself. It was the end of an era. My son was maturing, but would he be able to handle the decidedly mature themes of the final book?
One of the delights of discovering Harry Potter is that you see him grow up. But along with that, the subject matter of the books and movies get scarier, the villains viler, and beloved characters die.
If your family is just getting into this magical world, here's a quick age-by-age guide for enjoying Harry Potter with your kids. Keep in mind that all kids are different, so assess your child's ability to handle frights and peril before you see the movies or read the books.
7-8: Kids can start to read alone and enjoy the early movies and video games.
Read alone: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Watch: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Play: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
9-10: For the first time, the movies become really dark.
Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Watch: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Play: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
10-11: Beloved characters die, and the movies get even scarier (you might wait until 12+).
Read: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Play: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
11-12: Your kids can probably handle everything J.K. Rowling sends their way. (But you might want to accompany them to the more mature movies.)
Read: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Watch: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Play: Harry Potter: Spells