He read the book — should he see the film?

My eight year old is a very good reader. He just finished grade two, and in French Immersion at that, but this summer he’s jumped his (English) reading level to serious chapter books.

I have always known he’d be a reader. As a baby and toddler, he loved stories. Any stories. If anyone was reading aloud, he was there listening. At five, if someone was reading a baby book, he’d stop. He was sounding out words before kindergarten, and able to slowly push his way (with help) through easy Dr. Seuss going into grade one, but somewhere at the beginning of grade two, it all really gelled.

He was reading all the time. As in me shouting “Get your nose out of that book and go do (fill in whatever activity he needed to get done, like homework, practice piano, brush teeth, eat breakfast…).” He was reading the same level of books by midway through the school year in both English and French. These were short chapter books, like Junie B Jones, Magic Tree House and Geronimo Stilton adventures. By the end of the school year, if we went to the library, he’d come home with about 20 books and next week do the same thing. His English reading is now better than his French, but then it’s summer, so he’s not really reading French a lot right now.

I have always read a lot to my kids. When my first was a baby, I took him to a Mother Goose program, where we learned rhymes and songs, but where where the children’s librarian who ran the program told me my baby could have his own library card and that kids’ cards had no fines on them. So we began with books very early. And as my boys got older, I started reading chapter books to them at bedtime (one chapter a night). We are currently reading Sunwing, the second book in the Silverwing trilogy, and recently finished The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. My rule is that I’ll read the first two books in any series, but after that they’ll have to read the rest of the series themselves.

Turns out it was a great idea I had. Because I read the first two books in the Harry Potter franchise to my kids (I re-read it to my younger kid, but of course my 8-year-old listened in — see above). And my eight year old decided last year that the summer after grade two, he’d read the third. I thought it would take him all summer to get through that book, so it seemed like a great project.

Well he read the book in four days. And has now read the fourth Harry Potter book. And now I have a dilemma.

I believe that he’s old enough to read these books, even though they are probably more appropriate for a 10-12 year old. He’s pretty mature, for starters, and what he gets out of these stories is at a level appropriate for him (we grownups get other stuff out of it, but the kids enjoy it at their own understanding). But does that mean he’s old enough to see the films?

In BC, the Harry Potter films are rated PG. I’ve seen them all (not the new one yet), and think they might be too dark for an eight year old, and that perhaps I should make him wait a couple years. Or should I? If he can handle the book just fine, can he handle the film?

This dilemma will likely continue to haunt me, since he’s obviously reading above his age level, and so many great kids books are being made into PG films.

What do you think?

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