I bought my first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling after hearing about the book at a workshop called “Winners! The 100+ Best Books Published for Children”. Judy Freeman presents her list each year at all day workshops across the country. In this particular year (it must have been books from 1998 but I’m not sure) Judy absolutely gushed over this new book (Sorcerer’s Stone) and lamented the fact that the only reason it did not win the Newbery was because it was not written by an American author. Well, I was sold and promptly bought the book right there and then. The workshop is a very dangerous place, by the way, because all of the books are for sale on site, talk about instant gratification.
Well, I read the book and, no surprise here, fell instantly in love with the boy wizard. The book immediately became my number one read aloud in my third grade class. As a matter of fact, I have read The Sorcerer’s Stone every (except for one) year since. I start the book on the first school day and by the time I am finished reading it the children are HOOKED. They play Harry Potter on the playground, read the books over and over again, and simply become readers because of Harry. Parents have remarked to me over the years on the positive effect that book had on their child. I just smile because I know!
I chose to keep reading the book year after year for two reasons. First, because of what it becomes for my third graders. And second, because I feared Harry would disappear one day like so many other favorite characters and books. I felt like I was contributing in a small way to keeping him ‘alive’ in the eyes and minds of readers. I couldn’t bear the thought of the books ending up in every used book store, entire sets of the stories not loved, not wanted, not being read.
Man did I underestimate the wizardry of not Harry, but of the amazing J.K. Rowling! Harry is everywhere today. There are reissued sets of the Harry Potter series, there are ebooks (along with the enhanced ebooks for the iPad-the illustrations move!), there are Harry Potter ‘Pophead’ dolls, and of course the movies still remain popular. If you have been to Disney World you know Harry Potter World at Universal Studios is its closest rival. Recently an illustrated version of The Sorcerer’s Stone came out, followed by The Chamber of Secrets with Prisoner of Azkaban taking pre-orders as I write. Last year Rowling co-wrote a book, The Cursed Child, which became a huge success on the London stage. She also wrote a screenplay based on the author of one of the student textbooks, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. The Pottermore website feeds the need as well as the Harry Potter Lego video games (both digital and actual).
My list is far from comprehensive but you get the idea. From one woman’s dream has sprung a seemingly never-ending fountain of wonders and amazement. I needn’t have worried about Harry, but I’m proud to have been a believer. My dog’s name is even Harry. So if you haven’t already, give Harry a try. He’s not everyone’s top choice, but he certainly is magical!