harry potter reading

What Reading Level is Harry Potter?

What reading level is Harry Potter? The Harry Potter fiction series starts at a 2-3rd grade reading level and eventually progresses to a 7th grade reading level. Or from age 8-12.

Generally speaking, the Harry Potter books, written by J. K. Rowling, are meant for younger readers. The first one clearly started out as a middle-grade novel, but by the time book seven rolled around they had progressed to something more like YA, and the audience had grown up with it.

So it’s clear that each book is more appropriate for an older audience than the one before it. That said, it’s still mostly enjoyable for the whole family, and if you have kids that are 8 or older, I highly recommend you introduce them to the first book so they can get started.

So to get us thinking more on this, I’ve developed a guide to the reading level of each Harry Potter book. I’ve done this by focusing on two things:

  1. The complexity of the text, aka the readability
  2. The maturity of the content

Because once you get to book four or so, things start to get a little darker in a way that I wouldn’t recommend for young kids.

Let’s dive in.

The Reading Level for Each Harry Potter Book

With that said, let’s look at a quick-list of the reading level for each Harry Potter book. Following this will be my breakdown of all seven books and why I’ve placed them where I did.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone – 2-3 Grade Reading Level (Age 8 and up)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 2-3 Grade Reading Level (Age 8 and up)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 2-3 Grade Reading Level (Age 8 and up)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 5th Grade Reading Level (Age 10 and up)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 5th Grade Reading Level (Age 10 and up)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 6th Grade Reading Level (Age 11 and up)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 7th Grade Reading Level (Age 12 and up)

Now let’s take a look at each one and see why I gave it that particular reading grade.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 345 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 2-3
  • Age Level: 8+
  • Lexile: 880L

The Sorcerer’s Stone starts things off easy with a fun adventure that most children will enjoy.

However, it does have some darker themes, such as how the dark Lord Voldemort is managing to stay alive in the book, and there’s the subject of parental death, which if a child hasn’t been exposed to that, it may be something you want to broach gently.

That said, it’s the shortest and easiest read of the lot.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 141 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 2-3
  • Age Level: 8+
  • Lexile: 940L

While this book continues the peril and themes of death that you see in the first book, it’s relatively tame, and there’s only one action scene towards the end of the book.

Chamber of Secrets is very much at the same level as Sorcerer’s Stone, and therefore isn’t a hard read for most children. It’s Lexile measure is 940L, meaning that most children age 8+ will be able to read it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 180 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 2-3
  • Age Level: 8+
  • Lexile: 880L

This book opens up the Wizarding World a bit to show us the prison of Azkaban, and it also introduces to us the Dementors, which may be a bit scary for your younger children.

By this point, you should gauge if your kid has had a problem with the first two books. If they have, it might not be safe to venture from this point until they’re a little older, because the Dementors can be quite frightening.

However, the actual reading level is actually easier than Chamber of Secrets, with a Lexile level of only 880L. So in that sense, if your child could read the first two books with no problem, they’re be just fine.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 301 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 5
  • Age Level: 10+
  • Lexile: 880L

So, while the Lexile text measure for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the same as the last book, it is also quite a bit longer. So that could be a hang-up for children with short attention spans. It can take a while to get through this book.

Additionally, Goblet encounters more mature themes, particularly at the end of the book that could be frightening for children. It involves the death of a hero, which is the first time we’ve seen a non-villain die in the series, and it can be a little traumatic for certain readers.

That said, this book contains a tournament that almost gamifies the text, making you want to read on, so if your younger reader has enjoyed the first three books, they’ll probably want to speed right through this one, especially if they’re at the right age range or grade level, or they’re just an accelerated reader.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 412 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 5
  • Age Level: 10+
  • Lexile: 950L

It’s with Order of the Phoenix that the reading level really begins to rise, and this is the point where I would really evaluate if vocabulary and content are suitable for your child, or if they require a higher reading level.

Order of the Phoenix is the darkest of the books so far, with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and every student of Hogwarts school resulting in severe psychological repercussions to the events of the previous year.

It’s darker, and the Lexile reader measure is higher, so you’ll want to consider letting your child grow before tackling this one, and that’s only going to go up from here.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 652 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 6
  • Age Level: 11+
  • Lexile: 1030L

We’re starting to get a little older here with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which deals with a lot more mature themes of death, and it also starts to get a little older with some romance themes. Lots of kissy-kissy faces. That began in the last book, but it hits its stride in this one.

But it’s definitely darker, and the Lexile scale is also higher than average. So you’ll want to be cautious before giving this to your 8 year old. Instead, this is best suited for kids that are 11 and up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 316 Pages - 12/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Pottermore Publishing (Publisher)
  • Grade Reading Level: 7
  • Age Level: 12+
  • Lexile: 980L

Lastly, the seventh Harry Potter book is by far the darkest, and a lot of horrible things happen to various characters that we’ve grown to love over the course of the novels. So in that sense, you’ll want to make sure your child is ready for more death, mutilation, abuse, and more of hat nature.

From a reading level, it’s no worse than any of the others. In fact, the literacy level required is less than the previous book. But it’s also gone far beyond a simple chapter book at this point. It’s a longer book (just like the last three), and could take your child a while to finish it, depending on their reading practice.

Then again, I finished it in all of one sleepless night back in 2007 when it came out.

The Bottom Line

While the Harry Potter books are best for readers who are at least 8 years old to start out, and at least 12 years old by the time you get to the final books, you are ultimately the best judge of what they can and can’t handle.

Standardized tests and the like can determine a reading level, but when it comes to content, you are the best judge. Because it honestly depends on their life experiences up to this point, and what you think they can handle.

Overall, I think the Harry Potter series is fine for most kids over the age of 10, and often even younger. Though with the Harry Potter films, I’d maybe wait until they’re a little older. Especially for the Fantastic Beasts films or any of the films that are rated PG-13.

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