My eldest daughter is nine, the same age I was when I got into the hobby. With the new edition of D&D out, it seems like too much of a fun co-incidence to give her her first taste of role playing with the starter set.
I have no doubt that if I give her a pregen character, run the game and take care of most of the rules, telling her only the basics as she needs them, she'll have a fun time. But she has a 4.5 year old younger sister who will want to join in as well, and I'd like her to be able to share the fun. The trouble is, I'm not sure how best to include her in the game.
I could give her a character too, and just let her roll some dice from time to time while trying to focus on including her in the storytelling/role-playing elements. But I'm worried her attention span will wander, especially given that D&D is a very combat focussed system.
It has to be D&D (I'm working on something for a written article about this) — so no suggesting I use a simpler, alternative system please. Otherwise, I'm after ideas on how best to help a very young child enjoy the game. It will be just kids, no adult players, and me as the DM. If you don't think it's possible, or may spoil her experience of gaming, just say so — that's a perfectly valid answer in itself.
Update: After your advice, I tried it. Here's what happened.