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What age to read 'His Dark Materials'?

(27 Posts)
juneau Wed 01-Mar-17 15:14:55

DS1 is 9 and I'd be reading the books to him (rather than him reading them himself), but what sort of age themes are contained in these books? DS is currently enjoying the final Harry Potter (again, I'm reading it to him - he loves to be read to!), but he's quite a young nine-year-old, not savvy, street-smart, etc. He's still very much into his Lego, Minecraft, etc. He can cope with some 'dark' themes (such as those in HP, which don't seem to bother him), but are HDM more for 11+ age group? Many thanks.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Wed 01-Mar-17 22:56:45

I really can't imagine having these books read to me- it would spoil it. The characters all have their own voices etc that would completely change!

That aside, it's a bit more brutal- gory even on battle scenes and has a bit more realism than harry potter in that respect.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Mar-17 23:02:56

There's a lot of anti-organised religion. Children are abducted, are experimented on and have their souls removed. There are some deaths, including in battle.

I'd wait till a bit older, even if your DC is sturdy enough, the themes are quite complex and would be much better appreciated by an older child.

Onawheel Wed 01-Mar-17 23:03:11

My DS read all 3 just before his 10th birthday.

I think/know he missed some bits but I don't worry because I also know he will reread them.

Go for it.

Granted, I am 35 and have only just read them myselfgrin, but I agree that they aren't books to have read to you. They really are something you read yourself and get engrossed in, even pause to ponder (perhaps adults only there as an adult would get more out of it than a child) and, as said, the voices of the characters etc it really is something to read personally.

Despite the heretic side though, which could be argued in reality due to the fantasy worlds, they are fantastic books and I read all 3 in a week blush

Oh yeah, on the gruesome side Roger (child) is intentionally killed to release energy to enable the opening to other worlds.

The ice/armoured bears are brutal killers (but friends) and the king, Iorek, says goodbye to his dead ,loved, human friend before seeing him as a gift, ripping him open and scoffing his insides.. etc etc so certainly more gory than Harry Potter

slkk Wed 01-Mar-17 23:13:18


juneau Fri 03-Mar-17 12:03:28

Children are abducted, are experimented on and have their souls removed. There are some deaths, including in battle.

ripping him open and scoffing his insides

shock that sounds horrendous!

Thanks for your input - I appreciate it. Sounds like DS needs to wait a bit. I wish he'd read more stuff for himself and not just Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, etc. But anyway, he's definitely not ready to read this yet.

Hiddeninplainsight Mon 06-Mar-17 20:44:41

Has he tried the Percy Jackson books? They are less intense than His Dark Materials, but a good follow-on from Harry Potter (less dark as well). There are quite a few my Rick Riordan, so if he likes Percy Jackson, they ought to keep him going for a while. My DD also likes Oska Pollock, which are apparently the French Harry Potter. I haven't read them, and the reviews say they aren't as good, but she likes them (although not anywhere near as much as all things Rick Riordan).

juneau Tue 07-Mar-17 09:49:26

Thanks hidden I'll take a look at those. He's a lazy reader, unfortunately, so I'm thinking maybe the 'Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life' series next, but after that I should probably try and stretch him a bit.

Hiddeninplainsight Tue 07-Mar-17 10:03:17

Percy Jackson aren't hard, but are full of Greek mythology (set in modern day America). I bet if he liked HP he'll love them...

Redsrule Sat 11-Mar-17 18:33:56

I always think it is a mistake to read books/allow children to read books they are not fully mature enough to appreciate. It sucks the joy out of amazing books and can only do the child a disservice. At 12+!these books will be so powerful. Leave them to then. I am still haunted by the ending of the trilogy.

PopGoesTheWeaz Sat 11-Mar-17 19:58:41

Pullman has some other series that are suitable for younger children but I've told me (quite mature) 8 year old that he should wait until he is at least 12. That was because I didnt think he would "get" it but trip trap is right, there is some really gruesome stuff in them.

I recently read the Crooked Sixpence which I think younger Harry Potter fans would like. I also read Jeannette Winterson's Tanglewreck which I think fans of His Dark Materials might like. Had a very similar vibe of adventure/desperation and strong leads and immersive other world and power hungry villains.

averylongtimeago Sat 11-Mar-17 20:05:33

Try Susan Cooper "The dark is rising" series and Alan Garner, "The Wierdstone of Brisingamen".

Leave the Phillip Pullman ones until he is a bit older, imo

silkpyjamasallday Sat 11-Mar-17 20:15:14

I was in a play of the trilogy while at primary school, and auditioned for the film too when not much older, and I had read the books beforehand. I think a lot of the more gory details and soul stealing and religious themes washed over me, I can't remember being traumatised, and I used to cry every time I saw roadkill! My mum read some to me and I read some myself, and I absolutely loved all the books! I may re-read them now!

randomsabreuse Fri 24-Mar-17 12:45:09

Garth Nix Keys to the Kingdom (not Abhorsen) might suit quite well.

Sgtmajormummy Fri 24-Mar-17 12:51:07

I read His Dark Materials to DS as a triumphant send-off to mark the end of reading aloud to him. He was 12 and didn't get everything but it certainly planted a few seeds.
Any younger and they'd be missing even more.

And the film is a load of crap, by the way.

Bogburglar75 Fri 24-Mar-17 12:54:46

I'm currently reading Northern Lights to my Y6, nearly 11 year old. It is quite dense going but contrary to a lot of pps I'm finding it easier to read aloud than to read to myself.

Not sure how much DS is taking in but he's gripped by the story. I wouldn't rule it out.

Bogburglar75 Fri 24-Mar-17 12:56:57

But definitely as an interim would try Rick Riordan and Susan Cooper. DS enjoyed a couple of Eva Ibbetsons last year as well - the Abominables and One Dog and his Boy.

Green Knowe series - Lucy Boston?
Rosemary Sutcliff? Historical not fantasy but he might enjoy.

DixieNormas Fri 24-Mar-17 12:59:07

Ds read Percy Jackson at that age , he was 12 when he first read His Dark Materials

ParadiseCity Fri 24-Mar-17 13:01:19

I'd let him be a lazy reader if he enjoys it! He's probably getting all sorts of challenges in his day already (school, growing up etc) - wimpy kid is better than not reading and shows it can be fun and relaxing.

My wimpy kid reader also enjoyed Mr Gum and Psydonomenous Bosch.

Cooroo Fri 24-Mar-17 13:01:19

I read all of His Dark Materials to my DD but I forget the age - maybe 11 or 12? It was an amazing experience for both of us and she loved it. The first book is maybe a little bit more straightforward so why not try that and see how he's enjoying it? They take a while to get through anyway!

Have fun.

ShowOfHands Fri 24-Mar-17 13:02:00

9yo dd finished them at Christmas. She loved them and had a lot to say on the themes.

Read them yourself and then decide. It depends upon the child.

juneau Fri 24-Mar-17 16:05:03

Thanks again for all your views. I love discussing books! I think we'll leave them for a bit and as DS1 shows no sign of wanting me to stop reading to him I'll probably do so when he's 11-12. I want to read them actually, so I'm hoping he DOES want me to read them to him!

I'm holding onto 'The Letter for the King' by Tonke Dragt too. Has anyone read that?

Teaandadunk Tue 28-Mar-17 14:55:32

I think it's great that you are still reading to him and I bet it doesn't really matter what you read so long as you are both sharing that closeness. It's precious so enjoy it while you can.

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