In the News: Is Harry Potter the Boy Who Saved Reading?

The first Harry Potter book was published 20 years ago this week. “Have the books had a magic effect on reading rates?” wonders Tes (formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement), a weekly magazine for teachers in the UK.

In the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg complains about the political use of the books, and in particular, “treating Donald Trump’s democratic election as if it’s the equivalent of Voldemort’s covert seizure of power.”

Diane Ravitch wrote about the impact of the Harry Potter books and the sources of their appeal 10 years ago for Education Next.

Not long after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth Harry Potter book, worldwide sales for the series topped 270 million copies.

Not only has the Harry Potter series broken all sales records for books, but also it has shattered a host of preconceptions about the kinds of materials children are willing to read. Conventional wisdom has long held that new technologies render books obsolete. Publishers of educational materials long ago concluded that today’s media-saturated children do not like to read and that they require a dizzying array of graphics on each page to hold their attention. Experts in children’s literature have been saying for many years that children want to read only about children who look like themselves and about situations that reflect their own lives. In the young-adult literature market, the watchword for book marketing and for authors has been “relevance.” Young adults, it was widely believed, want to read about contemporaries who are struggling with contemporary problems in contemporary settings. A quarter of a billion books by J. K. Rowling say that they are all wrong.

— Education Next

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