Monday, March 10, 2008

Reading Harry Potter aloud

Usually, I love reading aloud to my children. Before I even had kids, what I most looked forward to about having kids was reading out loud to them all my favorite childhood books: Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, the Little House books, Betsy-Tacy, Anne of Green Gables, the Wizard of Oz series. Given my love of reading out loud, I was unprepared for how grueling it would be to read the Harry Potter series to my son.

Last summer, however, with the Order of the Phoenix movie about to be released, and “Deathly Hallows” right on its heels, I decided to grit my teeth and just get it over with. Because Mr. McP really, really, really wanted me to read these books to him. It was June when we started. September had come and gone before we even finished “Sorcerer's Stone.” After that, I realized I'd better pick up the pace, or I'd be finishing Deathly Hallows about the same time my survivors were arranging some deathly hallows for me.

Why are these books such a punishment? J.K. Rowling is a truly gifted story teller. Unfortunately she's not such a great writer. I know, sacrilege! How dare I? OK, maybe she is a really great writer with a really wimpy editor. There is a staggering amount of excess verbiage. I've been mentally editing as I read aloud, skipping over every “very” “rather” and “large” plus all the other pointless adjectives and descriptive padding. Sometimes I skip whole pages, eyes racing ahead of my voice to see where the interminable quidditch match commentary offers a phrase that I can splice into the last sentence I just read aloud.

Has anyone counted how many sentences start with the phrase, “Harry, Ron, and Hermione”? A lot, that's how many. Not to mention the many sentences that have “Harry, Ron, and Hermione” embedded in them. Did she type that out all 10,000 times, or did she create a macro? And she never mixes it up, either. You never see “Ron, Hermione, and Harry.”

We're now on “Order of the Phoenix.” All freaking 870 pages of it. I've been scheduling reading time like doctor's appointments. Our latest thing is to take Harry Potter to the bus stop and read while Mr. McP waits for his bus. My goal is to finish “Half Blood Prince” before the movie is released, and since that is supposed to happen in November, 2008, we might just make it.


  1. Gosh. I guess I kind of assumed I'd save my glorious reading voice for something more worthy and make Benny read HP to himself, if at all. I can see how reading it aloud might get a little tiresome. Kind of makes you look at the book differently, does it?

  2. I read an article after #5 came out that JKR one book more thoroughly, as it was just too unnecessarily long.

  3. We read each of the Harry Potter books aloud when they first came out. We limited ourselves to one chapter a day so that we would not finish them too fast. Oh, what a wonderful family experience. We thought is was a great read aloud choice.
    I am sorry you can not enjoy it.

  4. There is a mom who read the HP books aloud to her son at the pool the past few summers. It always fascinated me that other kids would slowly gravitate toward this mom so they could hear too. They loved it!

  5. I've been reading the Mary Poppins books lately. Goodness, they're disturbing. I think I had Julie Andrews so firmly fixed in my head as a kid that I never really read between the lines.

    Loving them, but they give me chills now.

  6. Jocelyn, I love Mary Poppins too. The movie is so insipid compared to the books. I don't know why Disney has to go and ruin everything. Have fun with them!