First, a confession. I never got past book two of the Harry Potter series. Not because they weren’t engaging, but because I got lazy, I guess. Where an 800+ page book used to seem like a challenge, now it honestly makes me a little tired. And it’s not my favorite genre. That would be romance or romantic suspense or historical romance or romantic mystery historical suspense. You get the idea.
So I was talking to my friend who taught fourth grade. She has read practically every YA book, and especially every single fantasy-type book. This is my friend Tracey who, with our friend Melinda, I used to sit around on Friday nights reading books in high school. You know, when we weren’t out being extremely sought-after at parties.
Tracey loves Harry Potter — I think she said book five is her favorite, but the whole series is smashing! And I bragged casually mentioned how my soon-to-be second grader (Sally) was almost done with that one.
Oh, but with book six and seven, she said, you can definitely tell they’re not for kids anymore. Because the characters are growing up, they start swearing some, and Harry isn’t even really going to school, he’s fighting the bad guy, so it’s pretty scary.
Sally just showed me on the dust jacket of The Half-Blood Prince: “Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love,” hand over her mouth, smirking and rolling of eyes. So it seems Tracey was right about the kissing, too.
What to do? I know this is only the first in a long line of books, movies, songs, clothes, etc that I’m going to have to allow or disallow. Clothes are easy. They’re modest or they’re not. Music is harder because I like a few songs that have questionable lyrics (but really good melodies!). Movies are pretty easy so far, even though Dick periodically tries to convince me that Sally can watch a a PG-13 movie with him. (She can’t. I’m in charge. The End.)
But books? What if my mom had not allowed me to read Wuthering Heights or Phantom of the Opera at 12? It wasn’t until a month ago that I watched the Gerard Butler Phantom and realized he was old enough to be Christine’s father, and just how disturbing that is. And Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 13? (though anyone who can get through John Galt’s speechifying deserves a few romantic encounters).
Compared to what most kids see on TV, this probably seems like a really silly question. But, my kids aren’t most kids.
The best answer, dang it, is for me to read the books first, right? Please don’t say that. How about I watch the movies? Is the last movie coming out soon?
What would you do? Have you read books six and seven? Have your kids? Will they give Sally nightmares or scar her for life?