Harry Potter is magical adult-literature
The Harry Potter series has captured the hearts of people of all ages for the past 20 years.
People seem to think the majority of the fan-base are young adults around my age, 25, who have quite literally grown up with the books.
There may be some truth to this, as the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was read to my second-grade class in 1999.
I instantly fell in love with the story, the characters and the magic, I probably know more people my age who felt the same way than people who didn’t.
Despite the fact the series is often interpreted as being for children, J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world has dedicated super-fans from toddlers to seniors.
Katherine Scholefield, an English Language Arts and English Language Learning teacher at Henry Wisewood High School said she believes the books are actually written for young adults, and that children shouldn’t start reading them until they are 12 years old.
She said the fact that all of the books are now out means if a child starts reading them, they could finish them within a few months, and the later books are not appropriate for children younger than 12.
Scholefield said the series deals with mature topics such as discrimination, death and senseless violence.
Parents who allow their children to read the series should be prepared to discuss those subjects with them, and being at an age where those topics are understood is crucial to those discussions, said Scholefield.
Brianne Nielsen, on the other hand, a 22-year-old music student at Ambrose University, said she thinks the age she started reading the series, six, isn’t too young at all.
She said she took away plenty of things from the series when she was a kid.
“I feel like there’s a lot of relatable instances throughout Harry Potter that I still take with me to this day,” said Nielsen.
Nielsen said the series taught her from a young age about the value of friendship and that it’s okay to be different.
“It’s okay to be a nerd,” said Nielsen. “You’re allowed to know things, you’re allowed to be a little bit more courageous.”
Andrew Sims, who founded the still ongoing Harry Potter podcast “MuggleCast” in 2005, said in an email interview that he thinks a child as young as nine or 10 could understand the series.
“I think the beauty of Harry Potter is that it’s accessible to anyone, no matter their age,” said Sims.
Sims said he feels the point in the series where it shifts into being a story for young adults is the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
“The writing is still accessible for kids, but the themes and deeper storylines will be more appealing to adults,” said Sims.
Scholefield said she thinks her caution about kids reading what they’re not ready for comes from an incident where she read Stephen King’s It at the age of 10.
She said that because she was reading at a higher level, she was encouraged to look in the young adult and adult section, where she came across a book about kids and a clown.
“People assume that when the protagonists are children, it’ll be kid appropriate,” said Scholefield.
She said she felt terrified after reading the book and she doesn’t want that to happen to other kids.
The general perception of people who haven’t read the series, or maybe have only read the first book or two, is that Harry Potter is a silly, fluffy, children’s series.
Sims said commercials for the Harry Potter theme parks and media coverage of book and movie releases contribute to the perception because they primarily show children.
Personally, I feel that I grasped the themes in the first four books quite well at the ages of seven and eight, but I’ll never know what it would have been like to read past that point at those ages.
I was 14 when the seventh book came out, and I’m really not sure if I would have understood or appreciated it as much at a younger age.
Sims said when he started reading the first book in his fourth grade class, he probably didn’t understand the messages and themes.
Having said that, Sims said the series taught him to be kind and accepting.
The Journal of Applied Social Psychology conducted three studies that found people who read Harry Potter are less prejudiced towards stigmatized groups.