Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

The need to read

November 29, 2001

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The Harry Potter craze is serving a wonderful purpose by stimulating reading.

Let's hear it again for J.K. Rowling and her "Harry Potter" books! Children who haven't been reading are doing so and those who have been reading are likely to do more of it which is one of the best boosts our educational system can get.

The best readers are generally the best writers, and the best writers are the best readers, from childhood on up. And the Rowling books are stimulating the process of looking at and comprehending the written word and entertaining people in the process.

Even older people are gobbling up the "Potter" books despite nit-pickers who contend the depiction of wizardry might be damaging to young psyches. Rubbish. Yes, there are "bad guys" in the books, but they are put into perspective.

Literature for years, including the famed fairy tales, has been saturated with less-than-angelic circumstances and images. Imagine the trouble someone like Charles Dickens or Mark Twain might encounter nowadays with our batteries of instant critics eager to find something to complain about. Heavens, Snow White lived alone in the forest with seven little men before she was married!

One youngster at the movie version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" told a local reporter recently: "I've read all four books twice. I'm excited." How marvelous!

Children who see the movie and haven't read the books have decided they want to get the books to soak up more of the details. Families who haven't done much together are sharing in the reading and viewing experience and loving it.

Rowling, Harry and his troupe have stirred up quite a positive storm, and it's simply wonderful to see more reading in a nation that has an embarrassing illiteracy rate. When youngsters learn to read, the skill and experience carries over to fuller lives all along the way.

Harry and the kids have created a highly positive spin on the concept of education, even though some of the benefactors may not realize it. For a long time now, we have been preached to about the importance of making education "fun."

Well, the Harry Potter series not only gets people to reading more and better but also turns out to be an entertaining project. The need to read for everyone is greater than ever, and that has been well-served by Pottermania.

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