Todays guest post is from Jill at Owl For YA! It's all about how Harry Potter has shaped the way kids read today. :)
It feels like I can’t remember a time in my teaching career without Harry Potter. They have become such an engrained part of being a 7th grade English teacher. Each year new kids decide to pick them up, and each year more kids fall in love with Hogwarts, Harry, Hagrid and the thought of having their own wand. I am one of the mass that love Harry Potter now, but when he first came on the scene you would’ve never thought I would be.
I have never been a big fantasy fan. Books like The Lord of the Rings never interested me. I didn’t like the idea that I had to learn a whole new world beyond my own. I found it confusing and frustrating so I never got very far. This was even true for the Chronicles of Narnia series because so much of it was spent in that “other” world so different from our own. When so many of my students were reading the Harry Potter books I thought there was no way I was ever going to read them. But, after awhile I knew I should at least attempt the first one, so I would know what my students were talking about. With that I picked up book one.
By the time Harry meet Hagrid I was back at the story buying all the other books. I was in love with Harry Potter. Buy why? What did Harry Potter have that all those other fantasy books didn’t? There are two things I can think of. One: the “fantasy” world doesn’t start right away. I get to know Harry without having to get to know a whole new world at the same time. And that whole new world is still a part of the world I knew. I didn’t have to learning everything new. Two: Harry. How could you not fall in love with Harry? His poor little life made me just feel for him, and I wanted to keep reading because I knew it would get better. I was rooting for him, and I couldn’t quit reading until I knew his life was better.
So I continued reading. I laughed with Harry and Ron. Rolled my eyes at Hermione. Smiled when Harry “saw” Ginny for the first time. Worried about all characters as they battled to save what they loved. And saddest of all, cried when Dumbledore died. Harry Potter is a part of my life and a part of the lives of my students. I am thankful for those books because I know they have created a love of reading in students who might have never found it. What a gift to give to me and to generations of children.