1,818 Pages

26 Aug

letter Take a moment to do the math.

“Sorcerer’s Stone” – 309 pages.

“Chamber of Secrets” – 341 pages.

“Prisoner of Azkaban” – 435 pages.

“Goblet of Fire” – 734 pages.

Grand total: 1,818 pages

((“Order of the Phoenix” – 870 pages.))

Yeah. I don’t think so.

One thousand, eight hundred and eighteen pages... and still 3 books to go.

One thousand, eight hundred and eighteen pages… and still 3 books to go.

At long last we made it to the end of the 4th book in the Harry Potter series; which is to say *I* made it to the end of 1,818 pages — bit by bit, night after night, reading aloud to my two older children over the better part of a year. As per our agreement we let them watch the 4th movie for Friday movie night. As excited as they are about those stories and as pumped as they were for the movie, there has been an twinge of sadness in the air since then because sadly, at least for the time being, this is where we have to stop.

In less than 12 months, with the exception of the odd guest-reader here and there, this DorkDaddy has read aloud every single one of those pages, doing all of the voices and keeping them all straight in my head. I don’t mind admitting I’m exhausted. But more importantly, this is where the subject matter really extends beyond the grasp of a 7 and 5 year old. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is where the series, much like the kids in it, matures from children’s fare to young adult material. Students at Hogwarts start to notice other boys/girls in *that* way, and the romance angle between Hermione and Ron shows its first signs of life. Thankfully at this point all those nuances are lost on my kids. This is also where Lord Voldemort legitimately comes back to life in a dark, sacrificial ritual and the larger epic life-or-death struggle between dark and light factions comes starkly into focus. A classmate of Harry’s is even killed outright. I think we can all agree that there’s no need to push a kindergartener and 2nd grader into that sort of material before they’re ready.

Finishing book 1, back in November.

Finishing book 1, back in November.

That said, my daughter being who she is, made an impassioned plea to read book 5 to herself, on her own, and keep going with the series. Here’s the thing. The rule in the house has always been that you have to read the book before you can watch the movie. That’s been a great strategy for keeping inappropriate movie material out of their reach. The next book in the series “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” is 870 pages long. In all seriousness, the way I see it if a kid is mature enough to legitimately make it through a 870 page book completely on their own, he or she should be mature enough to handle the subject matter. So when Episode IV made her case, I handed the book over to her knowing the chances were slim.

Still, Saturday night after the boys went down, Episode IV went to her room with a new Harry Potter book to read and a twinkle in her eye. This was big kid stuff. To sweeten the deal I even told her she could stay up as late as she wanted, so long as she was reading from that book. I tucked her in, kissed her on her forehead, wished her “good night and good luck” with a wink, and closed her bedroom door. UnDorkMommy went out for mom’s-night-out with her girlfriends and I settled in to dip my toe into a new video game.

Half an hour later Episode IV came out of her room and padded down the hallway to me. “Daddy,” she said sadly, a defeated look on her face. “I like it better when you read it to me.” Bless her sweet heart, she pushed through seven pages before she had to acknowledge that a book like that is just a little bit bigger than she could chew. I hugged her, told her it was OK, and took her back to her room to tuck her in again.

I know what someone's getting for Christmas.

I know what someone’s getting for Christmas.

“But Daddy,” she said. “What are we going to read now?” The flaw in my plan was revealed. For all my hand-wringing about how I was going to wean her off of the Harry Potter books I forgot to have a viable alternative ready to go. I scrambled quickly through the house for something that might be comparably dorky and appropriate for her age and stumbled across “The Hobbit”. We’ve had a false start or two on that book before when she was younger, but I’m happy to report that the tone and the style of “The Hobbit” is now perfectly suited for my precocious 2nd grader.

After our first installment reading and our 2nd good-night tucking in of the evening, Episode IV said to me “Daddy, I like the Hobbit OK and we can keep reading it, but it isn’t my favorite because there aren’t any girls in it.” Fair enough, sweetheart. Fair enough.

Although I must say I suspect, at least in my daughter’s mind, that Hermione Grainger could hold her own pretty well in a wizard’s duel against Gandalf The Gray.

Any suggestions for female-friendly, 2nd grade appropriate, fantasy-type books would be appreciated.

-Dork Dad

title pages

19 Responses to “1,818 Pages”

  1. Kimberly August 26, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    When my oldest was in second grade, we had particular love for the Series of Unfortunate Events. They ARE kind of bizarre but we loved the vocabulary and the humor.

    At this age, how ’bout a little Kate DiCamillo?? Tale of Despereaux (there is a move albeit not that great) followed by a little The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. If she’s a “higher” reader, she should be able to manage Despereaux on her own; however, they great books and would make for a nice nighttime read.

    HP stands alone. Any other children fantasy isn’t going to compare right now and you will be disappointed. Play a little with other genres. Happy reading!!!

  2. Kat (@kathym425) August 26, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I loved the Harry Potter books! My kids have seen all of the movies but haven’t tackled the books. My daughter is 12 and has read all of the Hunger Games books. Katniss is a very strong female role model but those books are perhaps still a bit too mature for your daughter. You should definitely put them on her future reading list though.

    • dorkdad August 26, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      I read them too… just to stay current. They’re bubble-gum enough, and popular enough, that I suspect she’ll find them all on her own… but likely well past the days when I’m reading to her at night.

  3. harmonybirch August 26, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    I second the first two suggestions all though, if your worried about things like death the Series of Unfortunate events may not be deemed appropriate. The Chronicles of Narnia, is fun, Roald Dahl is great at that age, Percy Jackson might go over well for her, Inkheart is the best,oh and the Wizard of Oz series is pretty awesome.

  4. Stephen Greene August 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I would agree with the suggestion of Roald Dahl. if you want one with a girl in it you will do far worse than Matilda. You could also give Neil Gaiman’s children’s books a try, but the best one might actually be Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wee Free Men’. It is a wonderful book about an young girl on the path to becoming a witch. But a witch in the best possible sense.

  5. readingwithafeather August 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Has she tried reading the first four Harry Potter books by herself? In 2nd grade, I started to read the first Harry Potter book. Even if you read it to her, she’ll be able to find her own voice this way. It might help her to love the series anymore. As for suggestions, I really liked the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane. The first one is from the 80’s but she’s still coming out with books (very slowly) and is working on a release date for the 10th one. This has a girl as the main character and the boy gets his own point of view starting in the second one. She might enjoy it!

    • Kimberly August 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Oh! I do second the re-read suggestion. If the reading level feels right for her, and she loves the story, let her have at it. It opens up deeper conversations about the story. I did that with my daughter for a series she wanted to read. I read to her. She reread it on her own and then we moved on to the next book.

  6. larva225 August 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Great stuff above. I also loved The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews of all people. It’s all about the power of imagination. It would be a sweet fun read for y’all.

  7. kjystenkjysten August 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Good suggestions, Sam. Pratchett is wonderful – but weird! What about Alice in Wonderland? I’ll research some of the books I used and get back to you. Keep reading. Who knows, YOU might learn something – or at least better understand the feminine side. :>

    • dorkdad August 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      I gave up on that a LONG time ago.

  8. Steve Robinson August 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I HIGHLY recommend the 4-book series written by Terry Pratchett for young adults about TIFFANY ACHING, who is a young 9yr old “witch” living on the CHALK hills among sheep farmers (mirroring areas of Scotland) in the first book. The books are WEE FREE MEN, A HAT FULL OF SKY, WINTERSMITH, and I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT.

    • dorkdad August 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      You’re not the first person I’ve heard that from today. Your recommendation gives it an extra special bump.

  9. Rich August 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    I’ll ditto the Wee Free Men, both my girls love it.

    We did the Dad-reads-the-Harry-Potter-Books-aloud thing and ran into trouble with the last two. The reason was we also took breaks between each one to let the kids mature a bit. A year or so later we’d read the next. But… not everyone makes their kids read the books before seeing the films.

    Long story short, two different kids told our girls all the spoilers in 6 and 7, one took absolute pleasure in spilling the beans, but the other was just clueless. Several friends corroborated individual spoilers inadvertently, so when I read 6 and 7 back-to-back in an effort to control the damage, the reaction to the key events was “Yeah, I knew, X told me.”

    Given that one of the bean-spillers was a neighbor, there was a lot of hurt feelings and “I don’t-wanna-play-with-her-anymore” awkwardness.

    If I had to do it over, I’d read them straight through before the youngest hit 3rd grade (which was when the spoilers started becoming unavoidable).

    Good luck.

    • dorkdad August 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      Yeah, the punk-ass delinquent in the grade ahead has already gleefully tried to spill the beans, and whispers have already made it to my daughter’s ears. Thankfully the boy is a known delinquent… one of the “bad boys” at school, so my daughter knows he’s capable of lying about anything, just for the sake of lying.

      …even though he wasn’t.

  10. Organizational Specialist August 27, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    What about Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time? There are other books in the series that include other members of the family but this one focuses on Meg Murry.

  11. Kellen August 27, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I love all the suggestions listed above, and my daughter has probably read (or I’ve read to her) 90% of the books. The remaining 10% will be going on her wish list! My daughter is now in 7th grade, and I still read to her, and she is a voricious reader on her own. With all the great suggestions, may I also recommend taking her to the bookstore and letting her pick her own story? About 2nd grade is when I started doing that with my daughter. The rules were simple: the book had to be age-appropriate/reader-level appropriate, and I had to approve her choice. We had some great discussions about titles and genres, and if she picked a title/auther I knew nothing about, we would shelve it while I researched the book. By doing this I gave my daughter the opportunity to discover her own favorites. Sometimes she picks fantasy, sometimes she picks classics, sometimes she picks “real-life” fiction (her words); and now she even picks non-fiction at times.
    I still take every opportunity to steer my daughter to my favorites, but I love that she is taking time and interest to introduce me to her favorites. Aren’t kiddos awesome?!

    Kellen

    • dorkdad August 27, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Thank you, Kellen, for taking the time to respond. And thank you all so much. This sort of back and forth is precisely why I got into blogging in the first place.

  12. Anonymous December 19, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    try the Boxcar Children…they are books you could read together or she could read on her own.

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