Age Range: 8 upwards (although your opinions may differ!)
How old were your children when they read Harry Potter for the first time? I read all the Harry Potter books as they came out but we weren’t sure when would be a good time to start reading them with our daughter. We started reading the new illustrated version of Harry Potter on the understanding that if it became too scary we would stop. We didn’t stop as our daughter loved the story and we read it out loud to her in less than a week!
The Story: After ten years of living with his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, Harry Potter discovers that he is a wizard whose parents were killed by evil Lord Voldemort and that the scar on his forehead is a reminder that he survived the attack. Harry becomes a pupil at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he makes friends with new students, Ron, Hermione and Neville. During the course of the year Harry discovers more about the wizarding world, learns how to cast spells and becomes a member of the Quidditch team. When Harry discovers that a three headed dog is guarding The Philosopher’s Stone somewhere in the school he is determined to stop one of his teachers discovering it but his mission to keep the package safe leads to a confrontation with Lord Voldemort…
Many of you will be familiar with the Harry Potter stories, boarding school stories with a huge dollop of magic. Harry, Ron and Hermione’s first year is full of adventure. There is fierce rivalry between the four school houses, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Harry’s house Gryffindor, especially on the Quidditch pitch, and Harry also has to contend with his enemy Draco Malfoy, a classmate who is determined to get Harry into as much trouble as he can. However, Harry has good relationships with most of his teachers including headteacher Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid the gamekeeper although he doesn’t trust Professor Snape (who turns out to be not all he seems!).
The illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is beautiful and adds to the magic of the story. Jim Kay has made the story more accessible to younger children with his amazing illustrations and it’s impossible to choose our favourites although many of them include Hagrid – in a rowing boat with Harry, flying across the sky on his motorcycle and we love the picture of his little hut with the pumpkins in the vegetable garden. The ghosts aren’t particularly scary looking, the troll reminded us of Fungus the Bogeyman and the three headed dog looks quite cuddly! Even Voldemort has been drawn in a way that masks his pure evil, all we see of him is a red eye. Full page portraits of many of the characters are interspersed throughout the book. One of my daughter’s favourites shows Harry wearing The Sorting Hat, it’s an ancient looking patchwork hat with the stitching coming undone in places!
This illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a fantastic version to introduce younger children to the Harry Potter stories. The illustrations help to explain the story and despite many being dark and atmospheric they added to my daughter’s enjoyment and understanding of J. K. Rowling’s original text.
We’ll be waiting a while before we read the second Harry Potter story with our daughter but we’ll definitely be looking for the illustrated version.