Signing Harry Potter

Unlike most children in the world, my eight-year-old son isn’t very interested in Harry Potter – neither the movies nor the books.   We have three volumes of the series on the shelves, which I’ve been planning to read with him when he’s ready, but he finds the length and the lack of illustrations daunting.  The movies, he says, judging from the trailers, “are violent.”

Last night “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was on TV.  We happened to tune in halfway through.  My eight-year-old daughter, who lights up in recognition whenever she sees a movie poster, immediately became engrossed in the onscreen action.  Until recently, she has been happy just watching and imagining, but these days she wants to know what’s going on.  So every few seconds, she would look at me in an inquiring way, waiting for me to interpret. 

Harry Potter is pretty complicated and my signing is rudimentary.  Plus, I didn’t really know what was going on, having missed the first hour of the movie.  My rendering was very simple.  I interpreted Professor Dumbledore  as “grandfather teacher” and one entire conversation as “He doesn’t like Harry.”  With over an hour left to go of the movie, I could tell it was going to be a long night.  At the commercial break, I told Lilia that we would rent it at a later date and watch the whole thing from start to finish.  And maybe, I thought wildly, I’ll hire a simultaneous interpreter so that Lilia will be able to understand what is going on.


5 thoughts on “Signing Harry Potter

  1. Maybe you should rent _Sorcerer’s Stone_, the first movie, first. Far less violent, until the end at least and even that’s pretty tame. Plus it shows how Harry gets to school and all that.

    Hi!! 😉

  2. Wow, what a challenge. Are there hiragana-only subtitles out there for kids movies? And, for Japanese films/shows, do they have closed captioning like they do in the States? I imagine even if they did it would be a while before most kids would know enough kanji to read them…

  3. I’m pretty sure we watched the first Harry Potter movie as a family, although it was a long time ago, and I doubt Lilia remembers. She also watched the second one from start to finish a long time ago, when she was satisfied with the action on screen.

    She’s just learning to read, so the subtitles are way too difficult for her, but maybe she can pick out a word here and there.

    I’m unaware of any closed captioning in Japan, but of course there are subtitles for American movies.

  4. One suggestion is to have her brother read the book series to her… or you can??? No pressure of course… and the books, as children books go, or well researched and enjoyable… and engaging… which is why they are so popular…and as usual, the books are better than the films which have so much to condense after the first book… as they have continued to ‘grow’ in pages with each new one in the series…

    As for Dumbledore, I would suggest refering to him as King Arthur and Harry as Perseus… more or less… but then you would have to explain who they are, and that’s another battle, but that’s one that they, like Harry and most kids that read the series, would enjoy… as they go on their own ‘Hero’s journey’.

    Otherwise, they are probably on tape/cd by now, read by someone… or local libraries may have a reading in the children’s section… just a guess.

  5. My daughter is deaf, so even if I read to her, she can’t understand what I’m saying. She is, however, extremely curious, and I’m hoping that her interest in stories will motivate her to learn to read. She’s learning, but her vocabulary isn’t quite up to Harry Potter yet.

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