HOW HARRY POTTER CHANGED THE WORLD

Read! by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


In an introduction to the 8th movie, celebrated author of the seven Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, talked about the 13 year adventure from the time the first Harry Potter book was published until the time the 8th movie was finished. In case you did not know, the 7th book was long and made into two movies. They probably should have made books five and six into two movies each, but I digress.

harryPotter

The really remarkable thing about the series was not that it made eight movies, turned Daniel Radcliffe into one of the richest people in England and Rowling into a Billionaire. It is not that Radcliffe and his costars, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, are now the most famous wizards of all time, or even that a wonderful theme park was opened in Florida to celebrate the worldwide phenomenon. The remarkable thing is that it got generations of people to read. They were not reading because they were assigned these books. They were all reading because they wanted to do it.

The movie adventures came as a result of a global desire to read about Harry Potter.  It was not just hitting the New York Times bestseller list. It was rocketing through the roof.  Books were flying off the shelves like Harry in a game of Quidditch. If you don’t know that reference, than you missed out on something most of the world knows.

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was finally published, almost exactly ten years after the first book was published, I wisely put a copy in reserve so I would not have to stand in line for the midnight release or miss out on getting a copy.

When I went to pick up my copy the following day I said to the clerk, “It must have been crazy here last night with all the kids screaming and pushing their way through.”

“The kids were not the problem,” she told me, “It was all the 20-year-olds pushing and shouting.”

It was the earliest generations of little wizards that were standing in line. Just imagine, some of them had waited half of their lives to find out what happened to the “Chosen One.” Many stayed up all night, not playing video games, but reading.

Yes, people all over the world were reading about Harry Potter, the boy wizard.

Nothing has captivated the reading public in that way since and perhaps nothing ever will again. It was the perfect mix of magic and wonder. And as Harry grew to be an adult, the stories grew to be more serious and complex. As Harry grew up, so did the reading public with him. No series had ever brought along a generation of readers from youth to adulthood merely through the pages of books.

It was the power of the books and the opinions of the followers of the boy wizard that the movies had to live up to. That is why movies five and six disappointed so many Potter fans. The books had spun the imaginations of readers into a marvelous vision of what these stories were and the movies had to cut much of the story to keep the length manageable. Reading had already painted the picture, but the movie screen did not display the scenes painted on the canvas of the mind.

Harry-Potter-And-The-Deathly-Hallows-Part-2

Thus book seven became movies seven and eight. There was no way to turn the long book into a two-hour and 25 minute movie. The only smart thing to do was exactly what the public was demanding. Film the entire book.

When book seven hit the shelves it sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours. It has been translated into 120 languages. I bet you did not know there were that many languages. In its first week out, not only was it number one, but the other six books were in the top 20 best sellers. Everyone was loving to read the most fascinating series ever.

What about now? What about the next generation of readers? Will there be a next generation of readers? If you read the Potter series, then you know the joy of a good book. Many of us know the joy of many good books. If I had not already run up my word count with my joy of Harry Potter, I might list some of the great reads I have encountered in life.

There is nothing like a good book. It would be highly unfortunate for future generations if they did not know that. Harry Potter proves it, not just by the sales numbers but by the reaction of the reading public to the movies. Yes, they wanted the boy wizard to come to life, but they already knew what he should look like and what was happening at all the locations in the story.

Radcliffe may have come to be the Potter we saw as we read the books, but our imaginations took us to worlds only the mind can take us. Movie makers knew by book seven, they had to try to deliver something they could not, movies that matched the stories that already played out in our minds.

Teach your children or your grandchildren or your little brother or sister to read. It is not just about learning the words, it is about engaging the mind. They will find that a good book holds more excitement and wonder than a You Tube video or X-Box game. It is better than Instagram, Snapchat, facebook live. The pictures that books generate in the mind are the best pictures of all time.

20 thoughts on “HOW HARRY POTTER CHANGED THE WORLD

  1. Wonderful post. Couldn’t agree more. A childhood without books is like being deprived of the best of life. Being transported to other worlds is what makes reading so special, whether it’s to Hogwarts or the Faraway Tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an only, and living in the country, my social life was seriously limited. Part of what saved me was learning to read (not sure how it happened, but one day instead of being read to, I was reading myself) by the time I was maybe 3 1/2.
    Mother, god bless her, was a reader too, and inundated me with Golden Books (in the days when they weren’t just Disney ads for movies), and once a week my dad and I would go to the store and buy the sunday paper and my Golden Book of the Week.
    When I was about 6 mother enrolled me in a book club called Children’s Digest, which opened up the doors for me as to children’s literature, from Dr. Seuss to Henry and the Doughnut Machine.

    I was a lot like that doughnut machine, couldn’t stop reading, still can’t. Without it, there would be huge gaps in my life (called cleaning the house) and education, since I was frankly a dreadful student. That I graduated at all is a miracle I still wonder at. I do wish sometimes I could get into books on tape, but the voices usually irritate, and I end up thinking, that’s not the way I hear it in my head…or, oh, turn the page, this is icky…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is magic what reading does for you. It can transport you in time and place to anywhere in the world. I remember seeing a movie that I knew I’d never seen before and yet I had this weird feeling I knew what was going to happen next and the characters were all familiar to me also. Turns out I had read the book many years ago.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The magic of Harry Potter continues! Kids are continuing to be introduced to these books and continue to read and reread them! I work in a library and have regular Harry Potter discussion groups which are one of the most attended groups we do. And the Harry Potter books appeal to all ages, not just children. It’s wonderful to sit in a room full of Harry Potter fans of all ages. It’s even more wonderful to see the love of reading blossom. These books really have changed the world for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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