The Harry Potter books make up one of the most famous literary series of all time, with all seven packed with adventure and wonder. The wildly successful series is rich with fantasy and magic, allowing readers of all ages to escape reality. But given some of the themes, many parents may be left wondering if these books are really for children.
Harry Potter is a children’s book and also a book for teens and adults. However, children may find it too scary due to its dark subject matter and complex characters. Initially marketed towards children with colorful and whimsical cover art, they became more adult as the series progressed.
This article will explore if and why Harry Potter is considered a children’s book and why some parents may choose to wait until their kids are older to allow them to read the series.
A few key factors make Harry Potter a children’s book, including the low reading level, the inclusion of mythical creatures such as dragons and trolls, and the fact that the three main characters begin as children themselves.
Also, the primary subject matter features common plights children can relate to, such as mean teachers (or professors), getting into trouble at school, and adults thinking children aren’t brave or smart.
Harry Potter could also be classified as a children’s book solely based on the unrealistic events that take place in the books. For example, throughout the seven books of Harry Potter, readers will experience:
- Flying cars
- Magic spells
- A haunted forest
It’s effortless for children to get immersed into a fantasy world with such mysteries, making it very exciting for a young audience. The first few books certainly kept things light enough to allow children to develop with the central characters.
Harry Potter also can teach life lessons to children such as friendship, bravery, and leadership.
Still, J.K Rowling’s ability to write books that are easy to follow and complex enough to be interesting made them ideal for kids and grown-ups alike. So much so that when Harry Potter movies hit the theaters, the crowds were full of parents bringing their excited children to see the young wizard.
However, fantasy is a hugely popular adult genre, too, with series such as A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin taking center stage over the last decade.
That means it’s often up to parents to decide whether or not a book is appropriate for their children. To help, it’s important to know what a children’s book is and how to differentiate those with more adult themes.
A children’s book is simply any book or body of literature intended for children. Children’s books often contain images and are also written to be easily understood by young readers. In addition, these books often tell a story full of adventure and fantasy.
By that very definition, Harry Potter would be defined as a children’s book due to the characters’ fantasy world. Harry Potter also follows the life of a young wizard who goes to school, has friends, and from time to time even gets into trouble, which is a familiar character arc in many such books.
Children can easily relate to the storyline of Harry Potter because, in most of the books, he’s also a child, which allows young readers to see themselves in him.
Teens or adults can read any children’s book, but the intended audience is the real determining factor. Both teens and adults love Harry Potter, and that’s no secret.
However, even with the wide range of Harry Potter readers, the magical book series remains a children’s book due to the subject matter as well as the reading level of the books, which is said to be ages 7-12.
Although Harry Potter was originally intended for children and young teens, adult readers soon caught on to the magical world once the book series exploded in the media. Still, it can be argued that the first in the series has a much younger intended audience than the last.
Though the first few books were exciting and tense, the overall theme was bright and magical. However, things changed around the third or fourth book, with young characters dying and the Dark Lord’s return.
For example, with new characters such as Bellatrix Lestrange, the books became quite dark. They even included more grown-up themes, such as betrayal and murder.
As Harry Potter gained worldwide popularity, it was met with resistance from parents and religious groups. From Christianity to Islam, every religion claimed that the Harry Potter books contained demonic and occult subject matter.
Many people who held these views argued that the Harry Potter series shouldn’t be read by children – or anyone for that matter.
Many parents also thought Harry Potter was too dark and violent for children because the books contained death, demonic-like creatures (such as the Dementors), and witchcraft.
Although Harry Potter was met with much criticism, the fear over the book series eventually calmed down, and many people understood it was fantasy and solely for entertainment. It became nearly impossible to stop children worldwide from reading Harry Potter books with so much success.
As mentioned, Harry Potter was always marketed towards children, even as they grew up. But even with the colorful book covers, they were devoured by people of all ages.
- All seven Harry Potter books can be found in the children’s section of almost every book store on the planet. For example, Barnes & Noble has an entire store section dedicated to the Harry Potter series, and the children’s area surrounds it.
- Over 500 million copies of Harry Potter have been sold worldwide. The last four books broke back-to-back records becoming the fastest-selling books in history.
- As far as children’s books go, Harry Potter is by far the longest children’s book, with each book containing over 75,000 words. On average, other children’s books have anywhere from 500-25,000 words, 50,000 words less than any Harry Potter book.
- The length of the Harry Potter book series set another record for being the longest children’s book series in history.
Every child has a great imagination, and books like Harry Potter allow them to live in their own fantasy world and get a glimpse into what it’d be like to attend a magical school and cast spells.
It’s that central theme that makes these books suitable for kids and teens.
Harry Potter is a children’s book through and through, even with the dark subject matter, and it’s become a household name worldwide, especially with children.
Harry Potter will remain popular among children for many years to come and has already proven to be the most successful children’s book in history. Adventure Awaits!