Monday, January 31, 2011

An Introduction to Harry Potter: Just the Start?

My son’s school apparently showed the first Harry Potter movie to his class last week. I say apparently as we are never quite sure of the things Kai tells us about school. He doesn’t explain things very well and still has trouble answering questions. Sometimes we are just not sure what to believe.

But, this one appears to be true. He told us that he wanted to watch it again for our weekly video night so we got it on our regular trip to the library this weekend. When we all watched it together on Saturday night, we could tell that he had seen it before.

This is a first in that, prior to this, he has only been interested in animated films or those that featured Muppets, or Scarecrows and Cowardly Lions, or other non-humans. While there are all sorts of fanciful creatures in the Harry Potter films, this is first movie that features mostly human characters that Kai has shown any interest in.

This is actually not the first interest Kai has shown in the Harry Potter series. About two years ago, he discovered my set of the Harry Potter books and took them all off the bookshelf and flipped through each one. I’m fairly certain that his interest was due to the number on the cover of each book that indicates its position in the series. As we watched the movie, he again went to the bookshelf to take another look at the books. He told us how many chapters each book had.

I am hoping that one day he will actually read them. While the movies are enjoyable, I want my son to experience the joy of being totally immersed into a different world that only a good book can do.

However, I’ve often wondered if his mind will ever allow him to enjoy a fictional tale with a plot as imaginative and complex as the Harry Potter ones are. I have heard that some kids with autism have trouble with stories that are so far from the literal and concrete world that is comfortable for them. While Kai’s reading skills are advanced for his age, his comprehension is not as comparable, and he does sometimes seem to prefer factual, straightforward books like the non-fiction books about the planets that we get from the library every week.

Even with the movie, I wonder how much he understood. He was entertained by the funnier scenes such as when Harry’s invitation to Hogwarts was delivered by owls to the Dursley’s house. But, when it came to the more serious parts of the story, he seemed less interested.

Still, when I was his age, I was just reading “Dick and Jane” books. So, I guess I can be patient and see where his reading will take him in three or four years. Like the young Harry, Kai is full of surprises. So, I’m not about to give up hope on his literacy skills.

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