I've been looking forward to starting the Harry Potter series with Billy. I've read them myself and we've watched the films together, but he hasn't read the books. I think we're off to a good start with them - not a peep out of Billy while I was reading to him.
I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone around the time it first came out, and I'd forgotten what a 'children's' book it is compared to the later ones in the series. It's a boarding school adventure story (with magic), but so well done. The story is simpler than the later books and the characters are presented very straightforwardly.
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number 4, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
There are a lot of things about Hogwarts which would appeal to a child - not least being away from their parents. Another is the food, from the chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans on the trolley on the Hogwarts Express, to Harry's first feast at the school.
Harry's mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled high with food. He had never seen so many things he liked on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup and, for some strange reason, mint humbugs.
And any school child would recognise the way Harry has to negotiate his way amongst the other children. A bond is immediately struck with Ron, and his friendship with Hermione blossoms slowly. And he has to stand up for himself against his arch enemy Draco Malfoy.
I don't know if I'll get to read the whole series to Billy. He enjoys his bedtime story at the moment, but I suppose it won't be long before he thinks that being read to is babyish. Maybe I'll get as far as the Goblet of Fire.