Harry Potter - Current Hot Children's Books that are Fun and Challenging
Impacting the World
In 1997 the face of modern children's literature was forever changed when an 11-year-old orphaned boy discovers that he was born magical and is a wizard. His name is Harry James Potter and he is the hero of a seven-book series that chronicles the adventures of Harry and his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The series has been translated into 67 languages and the first volume has been translated into Latin and even Ancient Greek, making it the longest published work in Ancient Greek since the novels of Heliodorus of Emesa in the 3rd century AD. Now, that's something! The final book in the series was completed in January of 2007, and six of the seven books have been made into movies. The last book will be produced as a movie in two segments in 2010 and 2011.
What's The Magic?
So, what makes Harry Potter so big? It's no secret that when it comes to books kids like to read, Harry Potter is often in the number one spot. As a genre, Harry Potter novels fall under fantasy literature, but they are also very much coming of age novels, as the reader follows Harry and his friends through the years at school and beyond. They are very much in line with other Victorian and Edwardian novels about life in British public schools, but author Stephen King noted that they are also "shrewd mystery tales," constructed in a similar manner to Sherlock Holmes adventures. All of these aspects create reading that is compelling. As Harry grows up, he's faced with serious and often deadly dilemmas to which he must find answers. He learns important lessons along the way - life changing lessons - as kids do as they grow.
The Many Facets Of Harry Potter
Perhaps it is the fascination with magic and death that draws people in so deeply. J.K. Rowling, the author, says, "My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry's parents. There is Voldemort's obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it." Many interpretations of the various themes presented in the novels have been developed by academics, including the idea that "going over one's most harrowing ordeals - and thus coming to terms with them." Rowling stated that the books contain "a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry" and they also pass on a message to "question authority and...not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth". Themes of power and the abuse of power, love, prejudice, and free choice are all present in these novels, and perhaps that is why they have captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide.
The question as to whether Harry Potter is good for kids to read has stirred up a lot of controversy among Christians. Some believe that Harry Potter is bad for kids because it teaches kids to practice magic and cast spells. There was even an email describing alarming effects in the lives of kids who are Harry Potter fans, claiming that the satanic temples are filling with children who have realized that their faith is fruitless and wizardry is the way to go. The email was proven false; however, the fear that these books will somehow turn a child toward evil is real in some places. On the other hand, there are church leaders who have read all of the books and find nothing but good in them. They remind others that the basis of the story is that of a flawed and imperfect hero who is called upon to save others from a true evil-doer. The real magic (or miracle) of Harry Potter is that this series has actually gotten kids to read. Imagine, kids all over the world (and adults living in the same houses with these kids) are cracking the covers of 700-page novels and reading them from cover to cover instead of sitting in front of the television.
As can be expected, there are "all things Harry Potter" available to anyone who is interested. If you want to know the biography of Harry Potter, kids today can tell you all about his beginnings, who he is, how old and who he married. They can even tell you Harry Potter's kids' names. There are Harry Potter websites for kids with threads that have been going for years. Try the Harry Potter quiz, kids are really good at it, to learn more about the personalities of the characters in the books, or to test your knowledge. All kinds of Harry Potter activities for kids are posted on the internet, or you can buy books of ideas in the local bookstore. Some of the material can be modified and used as teaching resources for literature classes or language arts classes.
There's no doubt, Harry Potter has left an indelible mark on our culture and our younger generation. The story is as old as time - good versus evil - but the method of arriving at the truth is what keeps us coming back for more.
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