Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Fourth Potter has brilliant plotting -- and dragons.
ALA Best and Notable BooksCommon Sense Media Award

What parents need to know

Educational value

J. K. Rowling borrows from many established stories and myths to piece together her magical world. Kids can look up more about dragons, mermaids, flying brooms, magic wands, etc., compare the author's take with other interpretations, and think about how and why she weaves these magical elements and beings into her stories. See the "Families Can Talk about" section for more discussion ideas.

Positive messages

Friendship, love, bravery, and loyalty are always major themes in the series. This book also tackles sportsmanship (the students seem to possess it, while the adults cheat and gamble), activism, the drawbacks of fame, and why you shouldn't believe everything you read or hear -- especially if you heard it from Rita Skeeter!

Positive role models

Harry faces many big challenges bravely in this book -- dragons on up to Voldemort. He has good mentors in his godfather, Sirius, and Dumbledore; Hermione and Ron are mostly supportive, though it takes a while for Ron to get over his jealousy of Harry. Hermione becomes an activist for house-elf rights and sticks with it despite her lack of support. Despite some adults trying to lead the Triwizard competitors astray, Harry always shows sportsmanlike conduct -- fair play is very important to him.


Four (bloodless) murders and a self-mutilation. The murder of one of the teen characters is the most disturbing. Harry is captured and tortured -- blood is drawn. Harry and other school champions are also in mortal danger with the tasks they perform for the Triwizard Tournament. Dragons breathe fire at them and creatures attack underwater.


The boys and girls are starting to notice each other in a new way, but there are only mild flirtations. Some students are caught "snogging" in the bushes after the Yule Ball.


"Bloody hell," "piss off," and similar light curses, plus a few uses of "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Madame Maxime's horses only drink single-malt whiskey. Students drink butterbeer -- a magical-world drink with a pinch of alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that brilliant plotting and pacing and increasingly rich characterizations will keep kids enthralled. Kids will be upset when a teen character dies, and sensitive readers may have trouble with the idea of a hand being severed and Harry's capture and torture. Since the characters are 14, they're starting to notice the opposite sex; J.K. Rowling handles this well. This fourth book in the series keeps the positive messages of friendship and loyalty going strong. Parents who want to learn more about the series (and spin-off movies and games) can read our Harry Potter by Age and Stage article.

What's the story?

After attending the Quidditch World Cup, where Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters, cause a riot, Harry heads to Hogwarts for his fourth year of wizard study. There, Headmaster Dumbledore announces that instead of the usual interhouse Quidditch matches, Hogwarts will host the Triwizard Tournament. This competition between the great wizard schools of Europe has not been held for centuries because of the high death toll. The magic Goblet of Fire chooses one champion to represent each school, but somehow Harry is also chosen, even though he is underage and Hogwarts already has a champion. Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, suspects that this is another plot against Harry's life. As Voldemort is returning to his full power, and complex and deadly schemes are in motion, few people are who they seem to be, and even Dumbledore's protection may not be enough to keep Harry safe this time.

Is it any good?


J. K. Rowling is one of the great masters of plotting. Throughout the incredible length of this novel the pace only flags once. Once again the story seems to go in a dozen directions at first, with many seemingly unrelated characters and events, but hardly a word is wasted -- all comes together in a heart-pounding series of climaxes that are breathtaking, brutal, and, at times, moving.

Rowling makes some powerful statements about fairness and diversity, the nature of courage, and friendship. Children ages 8 to 10 who loved the first three books will find this one tougher going -- not just for its length but also for the convoluted plot, un-translated British vocabulary, and some horrific and deadly scenes that may concern parents. Older readers will love the satires on politics, the media, and professional sports. And the heroes' entrances into adolescence -- tentative, funny, and very real -- will have readers squirming in sympathy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they saw coming and what was a surprise. Many kids say this book is their favorite in the series -- if so, why? If not, which book wins out?

  • Before it came out in 2000, the author warned her young fans that someone will be murdered in the book. For sensitive readers, is it a help to know ahead of time that an upsetting event is coming?

Book details

Author:J. K. Rowling
Illustrator:Mary Grandpre
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:July 8, 2000
Number of pages:734
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10
Awards:ALA Best and Notable Books, Common Sense Media Award

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Teen, 15 years old Written byFantasyFiend12 October 10, 2009
age 8+
This book holds an excellent fantasy novel that really any age can enjoy. I've reread it so much and can never get over Rowling's genius imagination.
Teen, 13 years old Written bynoveleater November 12, 2010
age 9+

If your child read the first three, they can most likely be able to read this with out any troubles.

Loved it! This fourth novel in a seven part series is the best yet. The plot is pretty much about a secret event that is happening at Hogwarts for Harry's fourth year at the magical school, that involves two other schools coming to live with Hogwarts. J. K. Rowling is an amazing writer, and keeps the pages coming even though it is a 700 + page book, the longest yet! There are some pretty creepy scenes, like the first chapter, and I would explain to your young reader that this book is fiction, and explain to them the difference of fact and fiction. If your child enjoyed the first three books, I wouldn't be too worried about the content in this one. The sexual behavior isn't bad, except scenes with flirtations, kissing, or snogging, as used in the book. This one, and main character dies in one of the most heart- breaking scenes ever, and with a beautiful funeral for him, or her. There is a amazing twist in the end, and it left me wanting to read the next one, but I'm pretty nervous about reading it, being wicked long, longer than this one! There are some good scenes that show Ron's loyalty, and Hermione's bragging personality. The language is a little strong including a few D words, P***, and bloody hell. Which Ron is the one the mostly swears. Harry grows amazingly, and with him Rowling grows as a writer. The books are perfect without any words being wasted. I loved it and I would let my ten year old read it. Enjoy!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old February 18, 2013
age 8+

Good movie, better book

I think that this movie is really good. I think that If you've read the book, it's fine for kids about 8 years old. This movie is defently worth watching
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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