Thursday, July 26, 2012

When the Character Ages Faster Than the Reader

A friend recently mentioned that she and her daughter stopped reading the Anne of Green Gables books because her 7-year-old was not interested in Anne's courtship by Gilbert, her career, marriage, or motherhood.  That comment got me thinking about series that follow a character from early childhood through to adulthood.  In addition to Anne, Betsy-Tacy and the Little House books came immediately to mind.  While, Type-A personality that I am,  I am a big believer in reading a series start to finish, it is hard when the character ages faster than the reader!  We are reading Little Town on the Prairie right now, in which Laura is 15, just meeting her future husband, and planning for her career as a teacher (which back then could start at age 16!).  So far my daughter still seems interested, but I wonder if and when that interest will wane.

Did you/your child read these series straight through or return to them later?  Can you think of any other series that present the same issue?


  1. I think Harry Potter is the biggest example of this that we've run into in our house. When the books were first published the characters grew up along with the readers. Now, however, the progression feels like too much of a shift in themes and age-appropriate stories. My 8-year-old listened to the first Harry Potter when he was 5 years old. We read the first four to him one after the other, and he loved them. But then I felt I had to stop. I didn't want to hit him with too much death and older themes too young. I told him he could read the 5th one when he became old enough to read it independently. He picks it up every 6 months, and although he's a good enough reader to tackle the book by now, the teenage themes always make him give up after a few chapters. I hope he keeps trying, but it must be so frustrating to fall in love with a series as a child and then feel like you have to wait through your ENTIRE childhood to find out how the story ends. (Plus, we won't let him watch the movies until he's read or listened to the books.)

  2. My kid was older when he started so this shift worked for us. Also, I found the 5th book was much harder to read aloud, because Harry's teenage whining is annoying to read aloud. :-)

    I don't usually read aloud an entire series, so this hasn't been a problem. I like to think of my read alouds as being like the free samples of a pusher -- then the kid grabs them and jumps ahead. This has the advantage that my kids, like me, are very good at ignoring stuff that is too advanced for them while reading. I wouldn't want to read some of the Pern books aloud even now, but I have no qualms about either kid (11 and 13) reading them because I know I completely missed the strange sex bits when I read them as a teen.