Amelia, Josh and Harry Potter

Bob Hatcher

December 27, 2011

          This story started a year ago when my son-in-law, Josh, read his 9 year old daughter, Amelia, about 50 pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  It stopped within days when it was deemed by Amelia’s mom, Carrie, and her dad that the story was just a bit too scary.  What happened was that as it turned dark and bedtime rolled around the frightening nature of some of the characters interrupted Amelia’s calm bedtime routine. The decision to stop was definitely Amelia’s parents, not hers!

          Then just over 3 months ago third grader, Amelia, known by all who know her well, as a rather tenacious, persistent, strong young girl, kept after her dad and mom to relent and let her get back into Harry Potter.  It happened and very quickly Josh had read Amelia the entire first book (several times she read several pages on her own).  Book 1 was finished in a few days. Josh had already read all the Harry Potter books and had seen the first 6 Harry Potter movies.

          And then there was book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Most of book 2 was read by Josh to Amelia and parts she read herself.  It took several weeks.

          Books 3 and 4 of Harry Potter were read almost entirely by Amelia and each was completed in several weeks.

When Maggie and I arrived in Ann Arbor on Christmas day, Amelia was avidly reading the beginning of book 5. She was up to page 358 of the 5th book 2 days later.  She will be done with this 870 page book in 2 to 3 days, I’m sure.

So now, in less than 4 months Amelia herself has read about 1500 pages of Harry Potter and reading these books has been causing her no difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep.

So what can parents of young children learn from Amelia, Josh and Carrie?

  • It is amazing how focused a young girl can be. Try to talk to Amelia while she’s reading!!!
  • It has been fun for Amelia because she loves the magic.  She just likes it.  Lots!
  • In the course of an average month Amelia and her brother, Elijah, spend about zero (0) hours watching television. Reading seems to be more exciting for Amelia and her 7 year old brother than television is for many other children.
  • Exposing a young person to magnificent adventures through reading causes joy, independence and is fun to share with one’s children.
  • There is no rush either to start reading or to read specific books. There is an attitude of hurrying up in our society that extends to education and entertainment.  Let these learning experiences unfold naturally.

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, Georgia