The Age-Old Harry Potter Timeline Question

Since the dawn of recorded history, parents have been asking the same questions over and over again. No matter how many books are written or advices given, it seems that there can never be a true answer to these queries that will have parents awake in bed until the wee hours of the morning.

“What is best for my child?”

“How can I get my child to sleep?”

“When/how do I talk to my child about sex?”

“In which order should I show my child the Star Wars movies?”

“Who is God, and if God exists, how do I explain the concept to my child?”

“Why is the damn sky blue, and why do my kids keep asking about it?”

Yes, some questions are timeless and universal across all cultures. And now, as a parent, I have come up against another one of the most vexing quandaries out there. “What is the appropriate Harry Potter timeline?”

You all know the problem. The problem is that the first book is suitable for all ages, from young toddlers to your Aunt Mildred, whereas the last book might as well be the opening sequence from “Saving Private Ryan” as far as your impressionable young children are concerned. They are not on the same age-appropriate level at all. But what can you do? Either wait until your children are 15 to start these books while all of their friends make fun of them for not knowing what a Muggle is? Or traumatize your 6-year-old forever with powerful dark magic?

We at the Tenor Dad household are attempting to split the difference. This past weekend we finished reading Ruby Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Sorcerer’s Stone. It was a huge hit. She instantly fell in love with it the way we all did once, which was thrilling to watch as parents. My wife and I decided that we would take a break, however, and not continue the series right away. Let’s let them breathe a little in between, eh? If we can keep the books down to, say, once every season, that would be 4 books per year, and she would be 10 before we finished. Ten! That is much closer to appropriate than 8!

Last night she walked downstairs for story time unbidden, with the second book in her hand. She was greedily reading through the book jacket of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, hardly able to contain her excitement at another installment of her new favorite series. Uh oh. We got around this by taking her to the bookstore and purchasing her a new book from a different series she enjoys, and she reluctantly agreed to start that instead. But I don’t know if we can hold her off for another 2 years.

There is also the discussion to be had concerning the movies. Book, movie, book, movie, and so on? Or do we read all the books first, and then go back for the movies? I asked Ruby what she thought, and she very firmly explained to me that if we waited till the books were through, she would have forgotten what had happened in the first one, and we had better see the first movie as soon as possible. Hmmmmm. Not sure that this is true, but we’ll see.

So what do you all think, parents? What is the timeline? When do you read Harry Potter to your kids? All at once, or spread out? Movies intertwined, or later? We’re trying for the middle of the road here, but it’s going to be a hard row to hoe. Suggestions are welcome!

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Posted in Bad Parenting, Books, Children, Harry Potter, Parenting, Ruby.


  1. I do wonder about this. First off, I think every child is different in their emotional and spiritual development; so this is not a “one size fits all” question, no matter what the topic. Second, I wonder if we underestimate the capacity our children have at a very young age to deal with life’s pain, uncertainty, fear – and this is especially true in our culture (though with school shootings, etc., our children’s security is less assured). As a very small boy who remembers playing in the woods next to our house growing up, we early on dealt with our imagined ghosts, goblins and devils. I do wonder if such imaginings are not every bit as grim as the HP series.

  2. Pingback: The Harry Potter Arms Race: A Cold War of 3rd Grade Proportions - Tenor Dad

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