Harry Potter Reading Level - What Age Is The Right Age?

Harry Potter Reading Level - What Age Is The Right Age?

How will you know when your child is ready to leave the muggle world behind and enter the mystical, magical world where Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger live? Let’s explore the subject matter we encounter while reading each Harry Potter book to find out what kind of reading experience children will have when they explore the world of Hogwarts and beyond. 

The Harry Potter Series

There is a reason that the Harry Potter series is one of the best-selling book series of all time. Each of the seven Harry Potter books has made it onto the list of the most-sold books ever, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or the Philosopher’s Stone, depending on where you live in the world) nearly topping the list with 120 million copies sold to date.

The first book in the series captures the imagination immediately, as we meet Harry and his horrid family, the Dursleys, in number 4 Privet Drive, and we make that first magical journey from platform nine and three-quarters to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Harry Potter books are written in such a way that as the reader grows, so do the characters and the stories. We first meet Harry as an eleven-year-old boy who is about to have his life changed completely. Harry, at first, doesn’t know anything about the wizarding world, but neither do we, the reader. 

As Harry learns about this new magical world, we learn with him. We learn about Harry’s parents at the same time as Harry himself does, how they really died, and maybe more importantly, how they really lived. We see Harry meeting and making friends with all of the people who will turn out to be so important in his life. 

harry potter castle

Why is it so Magical?

We get our first look into this new world when half-giant Hagrid takes Harry shopping for school supplies. They visit Diagon Alley, where Harry learns that his parents left him a small fortune in Gringotts, the wizarding bank. He is then able to buy all the school supplies he needs. 

This is where he first meets the wand-maker Ollivander, who will feature from time to time in later books. Ollivander helps Harry to choose his wand - or rather, helps the wand to choose Harry… The type of wand that chooses Harry turns out to be rather significant to the story in later books, too. You can choose your very own wand right here. It might not have a phoenix feather core, but it will shoot fire if you use the right incantation! 

We go on exciting adventures with Harry and his new friends (and some enemies!), shopping in Diagon Alley, venturing into the forbidden forest, and putting Fluffy the three-headed dog to sleep. We are introduced to a wizarding sport called Quidditch as Harry learns that he is a natural on a broomstick and is chosen to be the youngest seeker in the last century.

We also start classes at Hogwarts with Harry, where we meet some nice professors and one particularly awful professor who seems to have a real grudge against Harry. Transfiguration is taught by the lovely Professor Minerva McGonagall, who is a prominent character throughout the series, but the nasty Professor Severus Snape teaches potions, and poor Harry can not get anything right in his class. 

harry and germione granger reading a book

Harry Potter Reading Level

Each child is different in terms of the progress they make academically. There is no right answer for where a child’s reading ability should be. Still, if your child is interested in reading at seven or eight years or older, then Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the perfect book to get younger readers started on a wonderful magical journey.

Many parents have introduced Harry Potter by reading the books aloud to their children, which helps if the child is interested in Harry Potter but not at a good enough reading level yet. Some children will have seen the Harry Potter movies or know about the Harry Potter franchise and will become interested in that way, but will not be quite ready to read Harry Potter by themselves.

The second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, touches slightly on the perceived differences between pureblood wizards and those who come from non-magical parents. It also has some more ferocious creatures, such as a huge basilisk and giant spiders. It’s a little scarier and just a tiny bit more complex than the first book, but still fine for young kids, with fun aspects like the Weasley’s flying car and the resident Hogwarts ghosts who are always good for a laugh!

As we venture through all seven books of the Harry Potter series, things get more grown up. The story gets a little darker, a little scarier, and a little more emotional as the series progresses. And Voldemort, the dark lord, gets a little stronger with each book too. 

Learning Life Lessons

The Prisoner of Azkaban book is still easy to read and understand for younger kids, but here is where it begins to get serious.

In the third book, things get pretty dark for Harry. He fears he is being hunted by the serial killer wizard who murdered his parents, and there is a lot of talk about death and betrayal and a little bit of time traveling, too!

Also, we meet some terrifying new creatures called Dementors, who guard Azkaban prison. They can suck the very soul from your body. The only way to make someone feel better after a Dementor has been near is to feed chocolate to the affected person. This is one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn. Chocolate fixes everything.

a cheeky boy eating chocolate

Each new book in the series introduces more of the magical world and shows us amazing new magical creatures. We learn new spells and delve further into the history of Hogwarts. We learn about Harry's parents, their friends, the life of Tom Riddle before he became Voldemort, and a lot about Professor Dumbledore's youth as well. 

Are the Later Books for Higher Reading Levels?

In a word, yes. Although some younger children may be on the same reading level as someone older, they may not yet possess the emotional intelligence to understand the relationships between the characters in the later books. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are teenagers, things get complicated. This might be best understood by children aged 11 and up. 

The later books are much darker and harder to understand than the first three books. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has a lot of fun elements, like the Yule ball, the Tri-wizard tournament, and the Quidditch World Cup.

It also gives us our first in-depth look at dragons and shows a never-before-seen romantic side of Hagrid. This book introduces loads of great new characters and shows us lots of the magic world that we hadn’t seen previously. It has a little bit of kissing, some very teenager-ish feelings, and a lot of jealousy.

But it also contains descriptions of mutilation, torture, and complete betrayal, and ends up with the shocking death of a Hogwarts student. This is the pivotal book, right in the middle, where we realize everything is about to change.

The last three books, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, are not for the faint of heart. 

They contain more violence, such as a horrific snake attack on a much-loved character, a few very awful and extremely sad deaths, and themes of bullying and abuse. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a truly wonderful book, but it dives deep into some dark themes that would be difficult for young readers to comprehend.

We learn a lot about young Tom Riddle in this one, and it is easy to see how he ended up how he did, as the twisted and evil lord Voldemort, hell-bent on the enslavement of muggle kind!

a professor from harry potter

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the wizarding world is at war and we follow Harry and his friends as they try to destroy Voldemort and save the world. A big task for children, but they have a lot of help.

We see the characters we have come to love each do their part to overcome the evil that is trying to take over. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and I highly recommend it for every aspiring Harry Potter fan out there, as long as you are old enough to understand! 

Reading Level Challenge: As you advance through the Harry Potter series, why not enhance your magical experience? Level up with our fire shooting magic wand, ideal for skilled young readers!

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