Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Literary Power Of Harry Potter
by Cyrus Webb
Not only is it a series that has attracted millions of readers from all over the world under its spell, but it is also responsible for the birth of books that created their own history at the Box Office. What Harry Potter has done for those young, old and in-between is really astounding: taking people that in many cases had never considered even reading a book and creating a fan that has enjoyed the books over and over again.
For me the numbers themselves are not as impressive as those that have been personally affected by the work of celebrated author J. K. Rowling. Out of her own personal challenges and difficulties she was able to created something truly magical, and the proof is being seen each and every day.
In preparation for the release of the eight and final movie of the Harry Potter series, I put a call out to readers from around the United States, asking them to share their personal stories of how the boy wizard and his journey has affected them. here is a bit of what the responses I received:
"I am a 26 year old female publicist in Royal Oak, Mi, originally from South Carolina, and the potter series is close to my heart because in a way it helped get me out of troubleas a teenager.
"I began reading the first book as a Freshman in High School as extra credit in order to pass English class. I was failing the course and my teacher gave me an opportunity to read the book and write a paper to bring my grade up to passing.
"This was the beginning of a transformation for me. I was a total pain for my parents, so much so, they considered sending me to boarding school because I was so incorrigible.
"I was completely enthralled with book one and continued to read the entire series through my young adult life. The Potter series really sparked my interest in reading at 14 years old and I love to read to this day.
"I like to think If I had never been introduced to Harry Potter by my teacher, whose name escapes me at the moment, I may not have passed Freshman english. If that had happened I would surely be a different person.
"I went on to complete an undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina and most recently finished my masters in Public Relations and Organizational Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. I am actually in the process of enrolling for additional creative/artistic classes at the local community college as well.
"Harry Potter sparked my continued desire to learn and read - and to acquire as much
knowledge as possible and in my opinion, put me on a different path than where I was originally headed.
"I may be giving the series too much credit and my parents tough love approach no enough credit in my changing adolescent attitude but I'm OK with that. "
"My father bought my young son the first book when it started gaining notoriety here in the U.S. I checked it out but didn't actually read it myself. He loved it so much that he took his birthday money and bought the second and third books. He was about 10, I pre-ordered "Goblet of Fire" for him.
"When "Sorcerers Stone" was released we took him to Grauman's Chinese to see it. I was charmed by the film and he gave me his copy of the book to read. I was also charmed by the book and read all four of them. By then I was hooked.
"We've been at many a midnight book release party together, buying two books, one for each. I got to know my son much better, it's not easy to have something in common with a teen aged boy but Harry was the thread between us - we read, discussed, projected - we got to know each other of people instead of mother and son, and now, after he's turned 21, we STILL attended the screening of DH, part II together last week. (BTW, I maintained for the git go that Snape would eventually die to protect Harry. I consider myself right.)"
Deborah Panno (Burbank, CA)
"My husband I and are great fans of the Harry Potter series. When the books were coming out (before we had our children) we were among the crazies who lined up outside the book store for the midnight selling of the newest book. We’d sometimes buy two copies so we could both gobble it up without having to wait for the other to finish it!
"One of our favorite things about the series was the anticipation of the next book. As our oldest was getting old enough to start his own relationship with Harry and the gang, we wanted to find a way to recreate that magical (painful!) wait from one book to the next. We knew he was going to love the books but we didn’t think it would be fun (or fair!) for him to get to plow through all 7 at once. Also, one of the most amazing things about the series is the way the writing matures from one book to the next. The last couple of books really aren’t appropriate for very young readers but the first ones certainly are!
"We’ve implemented a tradition in our house that each of our children gets to start a new Harry Potter book on the night before the new school year starts. So we start book 1 on the night before kindergarten, book 2 on the night before first grade, and so on. My oldest is entering 4th grade this fall and is foaming at the mouth waiting to start the fifth book. My youngest will start 2nd grade and will be starting the 3rd book. (We read them aloud of course…my husband reads to our oldest and I read to the little guy). I love the tradition because it serves its original purpose of giving my kids time to think about and crave the next Harry Potter book. But it also has a wonderful benefit we didn’t anticipate. My kids actually look forward to the start of a new school year! Any “night before school starts” jitters are completely erased by their excitement to start the next Harry Potter book. Now THAT’S a powerful book series!
So far they haven’t tried to “cheat” by starting a book early but who knows if we’ll be able to maintain the integrity of the tradition once they reach the 6th and 7th books. Oh well, I guess sneaking an early peak at the last Harry Potter books isn’t the worst form of rebellion. "
"I bought (my daughter) the series a few years ago and she had no interest in reading them. When she asked for a DS (personal video game) my husband said YES - as soon as you finish the Harry Potter series. She still was not interested. So the books sat there and at one point she said, I am not going to read them - you can give them away.
"Then she read a Percy Jackson book, and then the whole Percy Jackson series and then she picked up the Harry Potter book and within 4 months, she read the whole series.
She finished the final book last week and we went to the 7 am movie yesterday which was fantastic! What I loved most is the fact that she knew every single detail from the books. After the movie she elaborated on what they left out, the names of Harry's kids, and how the characters relate and feel. She read and absorbed every single page.
"She thinks JK Rowling is a goddess and brilliant."
Cyndi Finkle, Art Works Studio www.artworksstudio.org
"I am 10-years-old. My love for reading got really serious after reading Harry Potter's 2nd book when I was 8-years-old. Then I saw the movie and after that I wanted to read all of the Harry Potter books, which I did. My interest in Harry Potter books helped me with my school reading program where I get AR points and last year I created a website called Ayesha Reviews to connect with other tween readers/bloggers many of them who also love Harry Potter :)
"The way that I started with the Harry Potter series is that when I was 8-years-old, I went to a tradeshow with my mom, I got the second book for free at a stand for books. When I finished it I was hooked, I just had to read more! Then my dad found a movie for the 3rd book. After that I wanted to see and read anthing related to Harry Potter. Since then I have read all the books at least 2 times each!
"I feel that Harry Potter series really helped me stay interested in reading and developing my vocabulary which was helpful for keeping my good grades. Seeing my mom blog for her business, I felt I wanted to try that as well and since reading is my biggest passion, she allowed me to connect with other reader/bloggers my age. Now my blog has over 700 registered bloggers who share their views on books they have read and how it relates to their life.
"When I was little, my mom's friend, she used to jokingly call me 'Harry Potter's Sister" because I wore same style of glasses as he does and looked like a girl version of him."
Ayesha Starns, Yanceyville, NC
"My son still will barely read any other books! He is almost 15 and has read and re-read the series, saying all other books pale in comparison. My daughter, 12, saw the movies first and recently read the entire series at lightning speed after years of telling me she didn’t want to read the books."
Dr. Natalie Wilson
Women's Studies and Literature and Writing
Cal State San Marcos
"The Harry Potter books affected me such that it caused me to become apart of a world wide family of Harry Potter followers so to speak. I do not consider myself a die hard, sold out fan (though it is hard not to be) but when I would run into Harry Potter faithfuls, there was an immediate connection such that it did not matter what your race or what your background was. It united a group of people across the globe. It made people talk, especially those who knew a lot about the books. Now that the movies are coming to an end, it is almost like we sadly are looking for something else to fill the void but we know that it is going to be some big shoes to fill. It causes you to look for something else to be excited about or you just simply go back and read the books, watch the old movies or reminisce with friends and family to keep the memories and experience going. In reality, it will never end.
"While at Disney World last year, my wife and I got on the Harry Potter ride which was awesome. In the replicated town, there was such a closeness and camaraderie among the people. The line was so long that we did not even notice it because the people in line with us talked about Harry Potter the entire time until it was our turn to get on the ride. This made the wait time go by very, very fast. As a huge fan of fiction books, especially as the Author of a Christian-fiction book myself, it captivated and captured my fascination and attention with the first launch of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. The book series was so awesome that it hooked me after the first one. It was so captivating and compelling that it caused me to yearn to find out what would happen next. This was a good thing because it caused me to read, and read and read some more. Big ups to Author J.K. Rowling, she is a true genius."
"My name is Jaya. I have a webcomic at http://alamode.smackjeeves.com, based in fantasy and humor. Harry Potter affected my life at a time when I was learning to love books, after I transferred schools for the fourth grade. My brother tried to read book 1 allowed to me, but at the time I believed all long stories to be scary, and Harry Potter was a long story. (I also underestimated my own scare tolerance, because I read the Wizard of Oz and the Chronicles of Narnia without a problem.)
"Once I reached the maturity level to appreciate the books, during the fourth grade, I learned that Harry Potter symbolized escape. Harry helps a boa constrictor escape from the zoo shortly before departing to Hogwarts; in Book 2, Ron's family rescues Harry from a cruel summer imprisonment. The magic world and Hogwarts, at least for the first half of the series, becomes a safe place even with Voldemort's continual attempts to revive himself and the other wizards that threaten Harry's life at school; Severus Snape and Dolores Umbridge fail to get Harry expelled, however hard they try to accuse him.
"Since the books are about Harry growing up, however, Hogwarts gradually became less safe, finally climaxing when Dumbledore dies, Voldemort takes over the wizarding world, and Dark Wizards become Hogwarts teachers. Harry can no longer see school as a safe haven, and he spends a good portion of the seventh book without a home thanks to the Death Eaters invading any possible personal space. Any adult can relate to this; I live at home now, and home does not feel as safe as it did when I was a child, when I thought my parents knew everything. Now that I know that my parents aren't perfect, and I've taken on more chores and responsibilities, going through the day is much scarier.
"For Harry, Hogwarts holds friends, food, and adventure; he has none of those things at "home" with his relatives. J.K. Rowling thus threatens the three things when Harry has to forgo Hogwarts for his Horcrux quest; Ron Weasley walks out on Harry, food is in scarcity, and there is no adventure when Harry has no idea where the Horcruxes are and how to destroy them. We only get adventure in the later parts of Book Seven, the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry finds his friends, adventure, and a bit of food after the battle ends."
"I am completely obsessed with the Harry Potter films and books. When I was about 10 years old, I saw the first Harry Potter film. Well, actually, I saw it long before that, but I saw it again and realized I liked it more than before. Then, I bought all of the other movies and watched them. I watched them over and over, bought them on itunes, and became obsessed with the characters.
"Two years ago, all of my friends began to really like the Harry Potter books. I had never read them nor did I want to due to my friends excessively talking about them. After a year of hearing 'Harry Potter this' and 'Harry Potter that' over and over, everything settled a bit and they stopped mentioning it every two minutes. Then, I saw the commercial for Deathly Hallows Part 1 coming out November 19th of 2010. It was then that I decided I would read it, the seventh book, for the first time. I kept saying to myself, I really want to read that book, but I never did. Then, the week before the movie, I went to the book store because my sister wanted some strange horror book, she is very much into that, and that is when I saw it. "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows", read the cover of a book, perched on a shelf. Paper back, orange in color. I picked it up and held it in my hands. It was as if I had picked up the wand that chose me. I took it to the check out counter. I knew that I was seeing the movie premier night for my sister's birthday (She is very fond of the movies as well).
"After I had paid for the book, I opened it up and began to read. I never liked reading. The last time I read a book was in fourth grade. Well, a book that I enjoyed, anyway. I read the first few words and couldn't stop reading. I read during all of the free time I had at school and home. I was determined to finish before I saw the movie. A week past. Then, only hours before we left, I finished. I yelled, "Done!" and patted my shoulder and grinned. Then I put on my cloak, grabbed my wand, and proceeded out the door to see the long-awaited film. That was just the beginning. From then on, I read all of the books, bought all of the extras such as "Beedle the Bard" and "Quidditch Through The Ages". There was no doubt that Harry Potter was my new favorite book. I began a page on Facebook about Harry Potter. As of now, it has 626 "Likes". I'm quite proud, actually. The books have affected my life in a way that no other could. They have given me something to wish for, something to believe in. It is almost like magic. Sometimes, I'll be watching a Harry Potter film and pick up my wand, say a spell and think something will happen. Unfortunately, I am disappointed once again. I feel like it exists, like magic exists, like everything is real. I think that tomorrow, I will be off to Hogwarts and saying goodbye to my mother for a year. It really is upsetting that it never happens, but for some reason, I still have hope. It is like I convince myself to believe that they changed the age when they send you a Hogwarts acceptance letter.
"My favorite character would probably be Ginny Weasley. I have always felt a strong connection with that character. A lot of people aren't happy with the way Bonnie Wright portrayed that character but I for one am. As you can probably tell by my e-mail address, I am quite fond of her.
"Overall, the books influenced me to read. They also made me more creative and they made me feel like I can always go back to Hogwarts if something goes wrong at my school. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premiered last Friday morning. I have already seen it twice. I saw it for my birthday and then again today. I loved the acting, effects and everything about it. They portrayed the books greatly. I know many fans are upset about how much they left out, but I understand that they couldn't fit that whole book into two movies. They really only covered half of it between the two of those movies, anyways. It would have taken at least 4 or 5 if they did it word by word and it would have seemed like J.K. Rowling just wanted to make as much money as possible. That is why they had to cut it down. I am very pleased that they did too! I believe that the films were wonderful and they were just how I imagined in my head.
"I would give J.K. Rowling's career an A+. Every writer wishes they were just as successful as her. She has it all. A theme park, eight movies, seven books, and over one million fans. There is nothing better than that. I truly hope she makes more books. Not necessarily Harry Potter, just, books. Harry Potter will always be with me whether it be in a book or in a movie. When I am older, I will open a box I had set aside, and find a series that changed my life, along with the movies that brought them to life. I will give them to my kids and tell them, "Don't ever let anyone convince you there is no such thing as magic."
Here's hoping these and others felt because of the seven literary gens that are the Harry Potter series find something else that will keep them reading and sharing with family and friends. We might not know what will be the next big thing when it comes to publishing, but I think that no matter what it ends up being nobody will be remember the little boy that grew up in front us, ready to claim his life and the destiny meant for him.
May we also be prepared to do the same.