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The hype for Harry has been building up for quite a while now. 

First its the movie that is breaking records and at the end of the week the last installment in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” will be hitting the bookstores at 12:01 am on July 21 amid a fanfare of parties in bookstores and a flurry in public libaries.  This book is really the summer blockbuster.  Athough it seems to be a daunting 700+ pages I have no doubt that by day three, avid muggle fans will be embarking on their second reading.  Kids are reading for fun, so it seems.

But its not the case.  A NYT article examines the effect that the Harry Potter books have had on the reading habits of children 8-17 and it find that they don’t read more than they did before the series started.  One girl said she has read and re-read all six books but she isn’t interested in reading something else.   She even admits she probably won’t read when the series is over.

I find it kind of sad, of course, since I work in a library and I like to read myself.  When my daughter was younger it was hard getting her interested in the books and authors that I enjoyed as a kid (Madeleine L’Engle, Paula Danziger, Carolyn Haywood, Mildred D. Taylor….).  When she was younger it was easier for me to read to her than for us to read together.  Now she says she is so busy with school work that she doesn’t find time to read for luxury although I see she always has time for the internet, text messaging, and television.

Its the same for my stepson.  Its harder to get him interested in reading.  Reading doesn’t hold his attention; its easier to put yourself into a movie or video game than to become engaged with the characters in a book. 

In the article, Stanford University professor believes that reading for information, similar to what is done on the Internet, is just find.  If you look at what most people need to read for their occupation, it’s zero narrative,” Kamil said.  “I don’t want to deny that you should be reading stories and literature. But we’ve overemphasized it.” (Potter Has Limited Effect on Reading, NYT,11Jul07)

Although I know my kids aren’t alone if choosing social activities over reading it still doesn’t make me feel better.  I’m constantly trying to find new writers, new books that will make them want to turn the page and hate to put the book down.  There are a few read alikes out there who are similar to Harry Potter, although J2 has yet to pick up on the books and my daughter got bored with the series after the 5th book (although she still has a huge crush on Daniel Radcliffe).  It doesn’t seem to dampen their interest in seeing the movie, though. 


Written by rentec

16 July, 2007 at 5:25 am

Posted in books

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