Shortly after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first came out, I began reading it to my three older daughters during their summer storytime each day. Slowly we made our way through the series, although I quit reading the books aloud after number four, as they were old enough to pursue them on their own. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book 7) came out, I bought one copy of the book while we were on vacation: my two older daughters and I took turns with it in the car, each promising to read only one chapter before passing it to another. There were numerous loud discussions about who was being honest with their turn, and who was reading ahead. (Never Mom, though!)
This week, in anticipation of the release of the last half of the seventh Harry Potter movie, we are "visiting" Hogwarts in the Teen Room. Our activities have allowed us teen librarians to recycle some of our better ideas from past Harry Potter-themed programs: searching for snitches, eating cockroach clusters and drinking butterbeer, and completing several trivia contests. (Harry Potter fans are trivia nuts, in case you didn't know.)
Of course, if you haven't yet read the Harry Potter series, you should, if for no other reason than to be culturally literate. In other words, if you read the title of this blog and didn't know where Hogwarts even was, you might want to add a few Harry-Potter references to your lexicon. There are seven books in the series, beginning with Harry's first year at Hogwarts Academy, and ending with the year that he leaves the school in pursuit of other, darker, goals.
If you've read the series and are ready to branch out to other wonderful Young Adult fantasy, come visit us at the library. Since J. K. Rowling first began writing the Harry Potter series, there has been a resurgence of interest in classic high fantasy, as well as an abundance of new fantasy writing published. We are sure to find a series that works as a next step.
However, if you just can't get enough Harry Potter, you might enjoy these books from the CCPL Young Adult nonfiction collection:
Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter by Galadriel Waters. There are three of these guides in our collection: one analyzing Books 1 through 4, one for Book 5, and one for Book 6. While the series is typically classified as fantasy, what keeps readers reading are the intricate mysteries throughout. This nonfiction collection dissects the books, chapter by chapter, establishing both the mysteries, and the hidden clues that J. K. Rowling uses so well. These guides are not books to be read in one sitting, but would be interesting companion reads while going through the series, whether for the first or the fifth time.
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter, by Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek. While J. K. Rowling is a highly-imaginative writer, she did not invent all the creatures, objects, and characters in the Harry Potter series. Indeed, many entities used by Rowling have long histories in folklore, legend, and occasionally real-life. This compendium alphabetizes over 50 magical creatures, characters, and practices from the books, and provides research into the background of each.
Once you've finished The Sorcerer's Companion, pick up The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts by David Colbert as well as Fact, Fiction and Folklore in Harry Potter's World: An Unofficial Guide by George Beahm, for more of the same. Colbert and Beahm have researched even more of the magical practices and histories, so the two books together provide interesting background for the fiction series.
Finally, if you have aspirations of becoming a wizard yourself (and who doesn't?), you might enjoy The Whimsic Alley Book of Spells: Mythical Incantations for Wizards of All Ages, edited by George Beahm and Stan Goldin. Written entirely tongue-in-cheek, this humorous guide proposes spells for all life's tricky situations. I plan to teach my children the "Cleaning Spell" as soon as I get home tonight, and to perfect the "Meal-Preparation Spell" myself. Students might want to master the "Learn While You Sleep Spell" or the "Easy Writing Spell." In my opinion, however, the most important spell in the book -- particularly in the Teen Room on these hot summer days -- is the "Air-Freshener Spell." Enough said.