Have you ever heard of The Great American Read by PBS? Well I just found out about it. And I’m jazzed! Basically, it’s a list of America’s 100 most-loved books (link provided below).
Anyways, on a different but similar note, I have been making my way through the Harry Potter series these past couple of months (finally finished the last one), and I realized that Rowling’s books are on this list! Needless to say, I am excited that I’ve been working on this list even though I didn’t know about it. So now I’m determined to read more of the books on here!
Alright, let me throw this caveat out there though. Fifty Shades of Grey is on the list, and I will NOT be reading any of those books! I personally do not classify them as literature, and frankly, I am kind of shocked they are on the list to begin with, but that can be another discussion for another day. I also probably won’t read a good amount of these, but I will try to get through a majority.
Here are the books I have already read: Little Women, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, 1984, The Catcher in the Rye, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, Wuthering Heights, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Here are the books I want to read:The Book Thief, The Lord of the Rings, The Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Anne of Green Gables, The Call of the Wild, Gilead, The Giver, Gone With the Wind, Gulliver’s Travels, The Help, Jurassic Park, The Pilgrim’s Progress, War and Peace, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Clan of the Beaver, Catch-22, A Confederacy of Dunces, A Separate Peace, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Alchemist, Americanah, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Color Purple, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Don Quixote, Frankenstein, Ghost, The Grapes of Wrath, The Hunger Games, The Little Prince, The Joy Luck Club, Looking for Alaska, Lonesome Dove, The Notebook, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ready Player One
I only listed the books I read and am interested in reading. I may or may not read more. I provided my own lists to encourage you and to give you an idea that I’m not following PBS’s list to a T. I’m kind of going off on my own trail. Which I’m totally fine with.
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Now more on Harry Potter. These were fantastic books. I can’t believe it has taken me 24 years of my life to start them/get through them, but it’s better late than never, right?
Anyways, I have heard and read countless reviews on this series, kids ranting and raving about it, parents reading them to their kids, etc. It’s almost like an epidemic. And since working at a library, I see this happening all the time.
But if anything I have realized from reading these books, I personally don’t think they are suitable for children under 15. I know that is probably a very high number, and most people will not agree with me, but let me explain.
The entire series revolves around themes of darkness, evil, and death. Good vs. bad. There is deep and dark magic, some violent and graphic imagery, intense concepts, some choice words, and a whole lot of suspense. Now, Rowling does an incredible job of being tasteful, and I honestly believe she is a genius. I LOVE these books, but I am also really thankful I waited until college to read these – mostly so I could appreciate them more and because I was able to handle it. But I also know not everyone is like me and there are plenty of kids who have read them ever since they could start reading. I get it, and hey, if you can handle it, more power to you.
But these books were dark. Are dark. And I’m afraid that for kids who have a hard time separating fiction from reality, they might have a hard time feeling grounded or safe. For children to hear about parents dying can be a terrifying concept, and though sadly it’s a reality for some, it can be overwhelming for others.
A patron came into the library asking if Harry Potter was an appropriate series for her 1st grade grandson. I told her that she could try it, but I warned her about the dark concepts, some choice words, and how it can be scary at times. I think I was a little shocked that she decided to check it out anyways.
All this to say, I love Harry Potter, honestly. I would probably read them again! But I know I wouldn’t want my children to read them until they were older and able to handle the surplus of darkness.
So if you’re a parent and are trying to figure out if this is an appropriate series for your middle-schooler, I would say probably not, but hey, you’re the parent and you can make that decision. I tend to be more sensitive so I have to be very careful about what I read. I know everyone is different.
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I hope this post was interesting and that perhaps you will join me on my reading journey through the PBS list! And I would love to hear your thoughts about any or all of these books!