July 15, 2007

HP 5

Took the kids to see Harry Potter 5 today, and we enjoyed it.I wonder if it has anything to do with not reading the book.

I was happy to read this article about “The Death Of Reading” because, frankly, we never made it through book 5 because it was not the most interesting book to read aloud.

When the kids were younger, I would read to them frequently at night. I’d do the voices of all the characters and I think we had a pretty good time. As they got older, it became a little harder to find the time to read to the two of them together. K had homework and school the next morning meant that we couldn’t be up late for hours engrossed in a story.

But, to be completely honest, the kids were really not thrilled by what we were reading anymore. And the effort I put in for such a voluminous and slow-moving story did not seem equitable nor appreciated, especially when it resulted in snores. Now, I certainly don’t mind my kids falling asleep at bedtime, but the kids do prefer when the story actually progresses. In a Harry Potter book, this can take dozens of pages.

On the way back from the film, the kids discussed skipping the remainder of book five and going ahead with the next book. We’ll give this series one more chance this summer. But maybe we just need to find more interesting reading material.

The fiction I remember loving found me at a later age… Dune, Stephen King… and the great books they “made” us read in school like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye. Maybe I’m just asking too much of a children’s book series.

Posted by James at July 15, 2007 6:10 PM
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You're not asking too much. It's just that reading aloud with others and reading silently by oneself are two very different things. Reading out loud takes a lot longer and is lower-resolution than when you read to yourself (when you can take your time and savor the details). They might enjoy the HP books better if they read them on their own.

To be honest, I have no idea what's good to read aloud with kids. I would think it'd be something that's short on pages and internal dialogue, and moves along quickly. Duh yes I know that's obvious, I just wish I could remember what I used to read back then besides Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew (which might be fun for them but maybe not for you).

I liked the Danny Dunn books as a kid and they'd be perfect for reading aloud. Unfortunately I am pretty sure they're out of print now.

Maybe early Heinlein juvenile stuff? (Maybe not.)

As for the HP5 - I finally got the book last week. I was going to jump into it right away (as soon as I finish Fast Food Nation, I mean), but upon reflection I think I'd rather give myself a chance to see (or miss) the movie first. I think I'd enjoy both the book and the movie better that way.

Posted by: Julie at July 15, 2007 7:45 PM

On reading to kids:

Once I was able to read for myself I despised being read to... and still do, as Patti can attest. I love reading and want to read anything worth reading to myself even magazine or newspaper articles. I don't remember what I was reading at K and M's ages I know I discovered the Hobbit in 6th grade and never looked back. I devoured all sorts of SciFi/fantasy from that point forward.

On HP:

loved all the books. the later ones are probably for older kids (I think) though.

On the HP movies:

Julie, I'd read the book first. The movie will certainly ruin the ending and probably a good many other sections of the book. I've read all the HPs prior to seeing the movies and I've still enjoyed the movies. So far they've all been pretty well done (haven't seen the latest yet).

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at July 16, 2007 8:15 AM

I read The Catcher in the Rye a couple of years ago. What a disappointment. I said, when I finished it, there's a whole day I'll never get back.

Posted by: Patti M. at July 16, 2007 8:17 AM

Not that it necessarily would have made a difference tin your case (who can know?) but with some books, timing is definitely important. I think Salinger's classic may be one of those books.

Or maybe I just like Salinger. I loved his short stories which we also read in school.

Posted by: James at July 16, 2007 8:51 AM

Glad you had fun at the movie!

Posted by: Chuck S. at July 16, 2007 9:36 AM

K and M really enjoy being read to. M's fourth grade teacher told me that she loved that part of the day at school. If I want her to read something, the sure-fire way to get her to do it is to read her the first chapter. After that, she'll go off on her own. She'll also read a book on her own if she already likes the author. I think she's read almost all Roald Dahl and she read the "Tales of a fourth-grade nothing" series in first grade when she fell in love with Judy Blume. (Now I have to wait for her to get a little older before she can start on Blume's more mature stuff!)

K reads non-fiction on her own, and she'll read historical fiction (like the Dear America series) and those "great illustrated classics," but it's much harder for her to read character-based fiction, so that's what I read to her, and we discuss the characters and their motivations as we go along. I'm hoping that eventually she'll enjoy it on her own.

Like you, Bob, I hate being read to. I have trouble concentrating and it's too slow and annoying. James doesn't seem to mind me reading to him too much, though. If he's cooking or otherwise occupied, sometimes I'll read to him from his latest book.

Posted by: Maggie at July 16, 2007 9:45 AM

I loved Catcher in the Rye. I used to read it every December, but it's been a long time since I last did. I hardly remember most of it now, though I'm sure that if I were to pick it up again it'd all come back to me.

Posted by: Julie at July 16, 2007 10:00 AM

Suspense is much more important to me when I'm watching a movie for the first time than when I'm reading a book. I typically watch a movie to get the broad strokes of the plot. I read a book for more of the heavier character stuff. So, while technically seeing the movie will "spoil" the ending, I think it'll more likely enhance my interest in the book than ruin it. (Whereas, if I read the book first I'm pretty sure I'll find the movie shallow in addition to being predictable - that's how I felt after the first movie, anyway.)

Posted by: Julie at July 16, 2007 10:04 AM

I remember enjoying Catcher in the Rye but then I read it in high school. I think James is right about the timing aspect.

I read a lot of non-fiction as a kid as well (at least before getting into SciFi/Fantasy). I think I read every book on WWII in the kids and teen section of the Fall River public library by the time I was in middle school.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at July 16, 2007 10:11 AM

That's pretty much the conclusion I came to, Julie. Although I have to say that there are books I wouldn't want ruined by a film (certain mysteries for example) JK's books are so heavily laden with details and character that I don't think I could ruin reading them by knowing the ending. It's not the ending that is drawing me on.

Whereas in a Kay Scarpetta novel, or a Jim Chee mystery, I really would lose a good deal of interest if the ending were ruined for me.

I think Patrick O'Brian novels are the same. If you're reading for the characters, the ending doesn't matter quite as much, though it does matter.

Posted by: James at July 16, 2007 10:18 AM

I feel that Patrick O'Brian reads like real life -- stuff happens while the characters are living their lives. I don't feel like characters or events are being manipulated for the sake of plot. That said, once my father said something to me that gave away a relationship and I wasn't too happy. There are about four things that happen in the Aubrey/Maturin series that would be spoilers, but other than that, they're just great reads.

Posted by: Maggie at July 16, 2007 11:33 AM

I have to say that I have enjoyed all the books, but found the fifth one a little too drawn out. That said, the fifth movie is the best of them. Because there was so much extraneous detail in the book, the condensing effect of making it a movie was less bothersome. They did skip a couple of plot lines, but they really needed to.

I thought book 6 was a good rebound. The plot flowed more and there was some interesting filling in of the blanks of past books.

As to reading out loud, it is a different experience than reading by yourself. Like James, when we read it out loud, I do an assortment of voices. It becomes more like a storytelling or a performance than a book reading. And it is a fun shared experience for us.

Maya also reads by herself and quite voluminously. So reading aloud is a good change of pace.

Posted by: briwei at July 16, 2007 12:17 PM

So have you all discovered Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series? Fantastic!

Posted by: Patti M. at July 16, 2007 3:09 PM

I just finished Dark Materials! I liked it very much, loved the mythology presented therein. I have to say I found the last book to be a bit dissapointing, but I absolutely loved the first one. Apparently Hollwood is hard at work at ruining this one, too. Oh well. Great books.

Posted by: Rui at July 16, 2007 11:17 PM

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