The Harry Potter books decorate personal libraries for millions of people worldwide. Some start reading them when they’re young, while others stumble upon the books through movies or as a recommendation when they’re older. But are Harry Potter books hard to read?
Harry Potter books aren’t hard to read for kids aged nine and older. The language is mostly simple. Some could find Harry Potter books difficult if they’re not native-English speakers but reading them in English. Also, it might be hard for some to follow the plot, many characters, and spell names.
In this article, I’ll discuss the best age range for reading Harry Potter books for different reasons. I’ll also touch upon why many people wouldn’t let their young kids read Harry Potter books until they’re slightly older.
Harry Potter books are modern-day phenomena in the children’s literary world. When J.K. Rowling started working on a story about a boy who finds out that he’s a wizard and has to attend a wizarding school, she never expected it would become the highest-selling book ever.
Soon, everybody was walking with a copy of Harry Potter. But what’s the intended age that Rowling had in mind for the Harry Potter books? Well, Rowling wrote the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone(the Philosopher’s Stone in Britain), for children.
After the initial success, Rowling wrote six more books which slightly changed in tone and difficulty. As the magical world became more open to readers, countless historical accounts and unique elements of that world, like spells and creatures, took up more and more pages.
All of that meant readers had to be able to follow the story and remember many details from all seven books. So, Harry Potter books quickly became children’s books for slightly older children. That’s why the best age range for Harry Potter books is from nine to around 13.
The language isn’t that difficult since Rowling used English suitable for the middle school level. Also, we must remember that Harry was only 11 when Hagrid told him he was a wizard (and 17 in the last book)! Kids around Harry’s age can easily understand what Harry must’ve felt like when he saw the wizarding world for the first time.
If you’re interested in this topic, check out my article How Old Is Harry Potter in Each Book?
Although the intended age range for Harry Potter books is from nine to 13, it doesn’t mean only kids can enjoy these fantastic books. The truth is that teenagers, adults, and the elderly love reading Harry Potter.
While the language is intended for younger readers, the plot and some more serious themes make these books exciting for older readers as well. Younger readers love reading about the Quidditch games and magic, while older readers can still contemplate the dual aspect of good and evil that resides in all of us.
Harry Potter books also offer an escapist element that readers of every age love. The wizarding world can have its pros and cons, but one thing’s certain — it takes our imagination from our real-life troubles to a magical land filled with spells and friendships.
Therefore, the main takeaway would be that Harry Potter books are timeless classics that every age group can enjoy.
Although Harry Potter books aren’t necessarily hard to read for most people, especially regarding language difficulty, some may find some aspects of these books hard to swallow. That’s why you’ll often hear people saying they read and loved the books since they were eight or nine, while others waited until they were adults to read them.
Below are some examples of things in Harry Potter books that make them hard to read for some:
The basic premise of Harry Potter isquite simple: it’s a story about a boy wizard attending a school for wizards and witches. While there, he must fight a dark wizard trying to kill him. Where things get complicated is in the world-building department.
Rowling created dozens of spells, most of which are Latin in origin. It can be tough for kids to remember all the spells and what they do. Add to that hundreds of characters (it’s a school, after all) that come and go in the seven books.
If you don’t believe me about the number of characters, check out my article How Many Characters in Harry Potter? where I also write about the most important ones you definitely need to know.
These two elements are why some younger readers find Harry Potter hard to read because they constantly need to have spell names and many characters in their minds.
I mentioned above that the premise of Harry Potter is simple, but the main plot, combined with various subplots, complicates things further. Simply put, the plot throughout the sevenbooks might be hard to process for many younger readers.
There’s sometimes too much going on that people lose their focus, making Harry Potter uninteresting. For instance, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5th book) was originally 766 pages long! Some adult readers find this daunting, let alone small kids.
Countless academic papers were written about Rowling’s use of various older literary traditions when creating the Harry Potter stories. According to some, she incorporated everything from ancient Greek epics to French Arthurian legends.
Those kinds of things can make reading the books mentally exhausting.
A story about a boy wizard in a wizarding school might sound fun, but Harry Potter books are filled with emotionally difficult moments. From the start, readers learn Harry’s parents are dead, so he has to spend most of his time alone before Hogwarts.
Apart from that, these books’ themes of death and evil are important aspects. Then some scary moments and descriptions can scare younger readers.
The intended age range for reading Harry Potter books is anywhere from nine to 13. That said, teenagers and adults enjoy these books just as much as younger readers.
I wouldn’t recommend letting kids younger than nine read Harry Potter books because of the serious and sometimes dark themes of evil and death that many would find disturbing.
Other reasons some find Harry Potter books hard to read include all the spell names and the numerous characters and subplots.
- Investopedia: The Top Selling Book Series of All Time
- Springer Link: The Magic of Harry Potter: Symbols and Heroes of Fantasy
- JSTOR Daily: Harry Potter, the Arthurian Romance
- Celebrity: What Is the Hardest Harry Potter Book to Read?
- Wizarding World: A Handy Guide to Reading the Harry Potter Books for the First Time
- Reddit: How Difficult of a Read Is the Harry Potter Series
- The Literary Lifestyle: Full Guide: Harry Potter Reading Level (Age for Each Book)
- Priceonomics: Are the Later Harry Potter Books More “Adult”?
- B&N Reads: When Is Your Kid Ready for Harry Potter? A Guide for Getting Started