There’s an interesting post on a blog called Kidliterate - here.
The author, Melissa, argues that parents shouldn’t be in a big hurry to read the Harry Potter books to their children.
She says there are lots of books kids should experience first, and if they dive into Harry Potter too early:
1) around book three the series gets quite scary as “Voldemort starts picking off Harry’s friends and family one at a time”;
2) while young children may be ready for the “happier” themes in the book such as loyalty and magic, they’re likely not sophisticated enough for the darker themes such as racism, self-loathing and evil.
3) If they hear Harry Potter read aloud at a young age, they will likely not go back and read the books themselves, later.
She suggests starting kids on books such as the Ramona series, Stuart Little and Roald Dahl.
While she doesn't recommend a specific age at which Harry Potter is appropriate (probably because it depends on the individual child), she does say that 6 is too young.
She then offers a terrific list of 14 great fantasy-type books, and reasons why she recommends them.
If you can ride out the author’s occasionally condescending tone (“Usually these parents did not listen to my careful, polite warnings that this would happen.”), she makes a pretty interesting point.
The article is worth a read.
Thanks to Jen Robinson’s Book Page, where I learned about the Kidliterate article.