Monday, October 12, 2015

Reading out Harry Potter to Puttachi

In summer of 2014, Puttachi and I started something momentous--me reading out books to her. Until then, I had not read out full-length books to her, and I had definitely not read any to her after she started reading on her own. Even when she couldn't read yet, I narrated stories to her--hardly ever read out to her.

So when we started with the first book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage--Magyk, we didn't know that we were launching ourselves into a lovely journey, one that I hope goes on for a long long time.

We finished the seventh and last book of the Septimus Heap series a few days before we left India. In fact, on the evening that we finished it, we went to the bookshop and bought the first book of Harry Potter, because both of us were feeling empty-ish and we wanted to jump into the next experience immediately.

I started reading Harry Potter to her on the day before we left India, and then read quite a bit of it in Hong Kong airport. We finished the first book a couple of weeks after we came here to the US.

There were many differences between reading Septimus Heap and Harry Potter. For one, both of us were discovering Septimus Heap together, and so we were walking hand in hand, peering around the corners, discussing heatedly about what is going to happen. And experiencing the joy of discovery together.

But it is different in Harry Potter. I have read the books, and watched the movies. I am in the know here. And I think Puttachi is not entirely happy about that. One more thing about my reading Harry Potter is that unconsciously, I read dialogues in the style of the actors in the movies. I realized this when Puttachi once told me, "Say this dialogue like Snape, amma!" So unfortunately, I've been doing a Hagrid voice and an Hermione voice and a Ron voice, and a Prof McGonagall voice complete with the British accent. Puttachi really enjoys it, but I'm feeling bad that I'm not allowing her to imagine it by herself!

We are now three books down--finished Prisoner of Azkaban a couple of days ago. And she loves it. But Septimus Heap still rules her heart--after all, that was her first foray into the world of fantasy. (Btw I think that Angie Sage deserves more recognition. She is in no way a lesser writer than Rowling is. Her world is as detailed and mesmerizing and real, if not more, than Rowling's world.)

Anyway, back to Harry Potter--since I know the story, it is hard for me to keep a straight face and not react when Puttachi wonders aloud about whether a character is good or bad or what his or her fate is, or what the point is of an incident.

It is all I can do to maintain a poker face when she says things like "Amma somehow I feel Snape is not a bad man. I think he just doesn't like children, and doesn't know how to behave politely with people that's all." And I go, "Mm-hmm."

I told her that I'd stop at Book Three and read the rest next year because it is going to get darker, but she is not ready to listen to me. She wants to read on. And her justification is, "Even Septimus got scarier with each book. But you read on because you didn't know what was going to happen, and you also wanted to know. In Harry Potter, just because you know what is going to happen, you are not reading further. How should I feel?"

And then she goes on, "Your imagination is probably scarier than mine, and so you think it is scary. Or it is because you have watched the movies and have got scared by it. See, you and Harry are so scared of the dementors, but I didn't find them scary at all. In the same way, I'm sure I won't find the rest of the books scary."

I think she has a point. I'm on the verge of caving in.


rajk said...

Where is the 'Like' button? Where is the 'Like' button?
Lovely, as always!

Snigdha said...

I loved Harry potter series. I loved Artemis Fowl even more. Do try AF books when your daughter grows up a bit more... you will enjoy with her if you haven't read them yourself :)

Anu said...

I think we have been brainwashed by the media into assuming the books are darker. If you really look they are not much darker than some of the myths and legends and some incidents from the Mahabharat or Ramayan - cutting off someone's ears and nose - is that not gross and brutal. What about all the rakshasas and the hordes of Shiva? Vikram and the betaal???

Shachi said...

This came up in my mom's group recently.

My question is: Wouldn't you take away the joy/experience of when she can read Harry Potter herself and immerse herself in it? I have not read the books or watched the movies. And I'm waiting for when we can both read it together and discuss each book, then watch the movie, then move on to the next.

I will look at other series to read together though.

Shruthi said...

RajK, thanks! The Like button is such an integral part of our lives, isn't it?

Snigdha, thanks! I've always wondered about the Artemis Fowl series. Will definitely try them.

Anu, our myths are pretty gruesome. Puttachi is very clear in her dislike for them. But what happens in these stories is that you are with the character for a while and they grow on you, and suddenly they are dead, or turn out to be bad--every child will be affected differently, and I think it is fair to issue a warning about their darkness.

Shachi, that is something that troubled me when I was into the first Septimus book. But discovering a book with someone is special in itself.. how many people experience that joy? Besides, once the book is read, the child can go and read it by herself and experience it again.

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