The Dark is Rising is the first novel I read by Susan Cooper and changed me from a 8 year old with a hobby of plastic warfare and transformer obsession into a book addict. I cannot begun to get across the memories this book now invokes. I have read the greats, but this book for me is right up there. I seem to remember a teacher asked me if I wanted to choose something else, because back in the day we had to read aloud to her at school, but we could take it home and read the rest. Since I was reading so quickly at home, it became a bit difficult for her to follow the story.
Over Sea, Under Stone is the first in the `Dark is Rising` sequence, but personally I missed nothing by starting with the 2nd book, The Dark is Rising. I didn't follow the series as a child, since I had no way to get the rest of the books. I've tried to keep this short, but don't underestimate the ability of childrens or at least in this book a book aimed at teenagers. I have since read the 2nd book and I think it may even be a better start. I can still read this now and find nothing in it patronising. What I do notice is that the emphasis is on good and evil, morality and a lack of violence and sex in vast comparison to many other books which might be volunteered as suitable. A problem I find with books is you wanting people to share the experience, to the point the desire to push something unsuitable (but enjoyed) happens a lot (with people of different tastes never mind ages). Allowing him to choose from a selection might be good, also getting a library card and choosing his own. The library near my parents have known me since a child.