This is as much a cultural milestone than a literacy milestone, I think. But my daughter was so, so, so excited and proud the other day when she finished reading the first Harry Potter book on her own. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when she told me that she was reading it at school for her D.E.A.R. book. I thought it would be a bit advanced for her - she has abandoned a number of middle grade titles this year (with my full support - she wasn't ready for them).
But I think that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone held some advantages that helped her to persevere:
- I had already read it to her.
- She had seen the movie at least once (and the movie is quite true to the book).
- I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix aloud to her.
- She is passionately interested in the world of Harry Potter.
- The book was always handy. She had a copy in class (from her classroom library), a copy in her bed (my copy), and a third copy downstairs, from a Gryffindor-themed set that my husband bought us for Christmas. Interestingly, she didn't read from the illustrated edition, which we also have.
All of these other experiences with the Harry Potter universe provided her with plenty of scaffolding. I think that helped her to get through what would otherwise have been a challenging read. And, of course, when a child is passionately interested in a book, she will often find a way to get through it, even if it is a above her so-called reading level.
I don't think that she's going to be racing through the other six books any time soon, though I do expect that she'll be working on Book 2 this summer. My hope and expectation is that she is young enough (at just 8) that she will want me to read books six and seven to her before she reads them herself. Because I am really enjoying sharing the books with her.
Incidentally my favorite response to this milestone came from a friend on Facebook, who wrote: "My 9 year old read this over my shoulder and started clapping for her." This nine year old doesn't actually know my daughter, but that doesn't matter. There's a bond between fans that transcends distance.
Where were you when you finished reading the first Harry Potter book? Do YOU remember?