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Tag: Harry Potter

Consensus is Building: It’s Okay to Read YA.

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When I enter a book on my Goodreads account, I use the review space not so much for reviews but for quick reactions, or a little color commentary. A while back I was singing the praises of one particular and highly awesome audiobook (by Richard Peck) and then very much lamenting the fact that most adults probably would not discover this treasure unless a child was involved. Too bad because, as we book-pushers know, the pleasure of reading transcends format, genre, and intended audience and can take many forms.

Who is ready and willing to read outside of their prescribed book market? Teachers, librarians, writers, booksellers, and those in the publishing industry. But what about Harry Potter you say? And of course, we now have The Hunger Games (at present, you can spot anyone from age 9 to 90 carrying that book). Does this mean that the wider world has begun to cast off the shackles preventing them from exploring the wonders of fiction designated for youth? I’m not ready to declare victory just yet. I realize that as a librarian, I am so immersed in my YA book evaluation, purchasing, face-out shelving, book clubs, blogging, and book talking that I’m slightly in danger of losing perspective on the world outside of book-centric circles. The real world: where high school teachers only deign to recommend and assign classics, where people have no idea what YA stands for, and where people assume they know what teen lit is all about and that it’s not for them. I’m happily in my librarian bubble where I get to interact on a daily-basis with all sorts of fabulous library users and excited teens who know exactly what I’m talking about.

Thus, I require evidence of the mainstream media and pop culture variety to really believe that the tides are turning. Sure, sure, The Hunger Games movie situation is good proof, but it’s just one book, and does one phenomenally successful book lead to wider readership of any kind? I think it does. I refer to it as the Harry Potter Effect. So here, in no particular order, are some further tidbits of the evolution-in-process, the building of consensus, if you will, that if it’s a good book people will read it, no matter the label.

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Goodbye, Harry

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2, this really is the conclusion of the Harry Potter phenomenon.  Sure, people will still read the books, go to the theme park, and be checking out Pottermore, but this is definitely the end of the series.  In 1998 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in the U.S. and for the next thirteen years much of the country was captivated by the stories and subsequent films. Can you think of any other books that so completely, at the same time, captured the interest of so many people of different ages? Love or hate Harry, there was simply no ignoring him.  Today The Hub’s bloggers look back and share their reflections on Harry Potter and what he meant to them. Enjoy! And, please feel free to share your own memories in the comments section.

Sarah Debraski:  When the first Harry Potter book came out I was working in a small library and a friend asked me if I’d heard about this new book that was all the rage in England.  I hadn’t, but when I did get a copy of the new book I read it and loved it. It just so happens that I love almost any book set in a boarding school. And this was a boarding school with magic? Right up my alley. I loved the story and, as it went on, really loved the rich overall story, with its well thought out history, dark moments, and the maturing of the characters. But….I did have some conflicting emotions about it.  You see, I tend to not enjoy reading what everyone else is, or being caught up in a trend.  If Oprah recommends a book it makes me not want to read it.   As a librarian I knew I should be thrilled that a book was proving to the country that reading that captured the imagination was still alive and that it was attracting non-readers.  The truth is it drove me crazy that it felt like the world had woken up to reading when all along my library had been filled with equally engaging and entertaining novels that had been overlooked.  I did what most librarians did–seized the opportunity to push all those other books on readers.  Oh, you liked Harry Potter? Try this Diana Wynne Jones!  I couldn’t stand having parents come in to the library and indulge in the newest form of parental bragging–seeing whose child read the books at the youngest age, or which child could read a book in a day.  I felt like they were missing the point of reading entirely.
Having only read the series as an adult I didn’t get to “grow up with Harry” as so many did, but because the books came out over a long period of time, I do have associations of them with different stages of my life.

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31 Days of Teens’ Top Ten: Charting Fantastic Series

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Each day during the month of May, The Hub will feature a post about Teens’ Top Ten. Be sure to check in daily as we visit past winners and current nominees!

I’ve been looking at the list of the past eight years of Teens’ Top Ten and there is definitely something to notice. Series play a role in what gets on the list. Now I know that this isn’t shocking news to you, however, it is an interesting opportunity to look back at the series that have consumed readers over the past many years and consider what their inclusion tells us about teen reading. For example series on the list over the life of the list includes:

  • In 2003 and 2005 Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books were on the list.
  • Harry Potter appeared in 2004 and 2006
  • Maximum Ride titles appeared in 2005, 2007, and 2008
  • 2006 was the year that Twilight appeared on the list with New Moon on in 2007, Eclipse in 2008, and Breaking Dawn in 2009.
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Book to Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If you’re the nerdy, devoted type of Harry Potter fan who can take this quiz and score over a hundred, you’re probably the kind of person who was at a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 on Thursday, November 18th. And if you’re anything like me, you were, possibly for the first time since you started seeing Harry Potter movies in 2001, really impressed.

Part 1 was really, really good. I’m glad they decided to split book into two movies, because that meant the movie could spend just a little more time with the characters, instead of rushing from plot point to plot point, trying to cram everything in. That’s not to say the movie won’t be confusing to a casual fan. A friend who’s read the books just once confessed that he spent most of the two and a half hours more than a little lost (he also said, “I want to see Part 2 now!”). The seventh book is so dang confusing anyway, however, that (sorry, casual fans) I think that’s to be expected.

The real payoff of the two-movie scheme is that it gives director David Yates time to linger just a little longer in the non-action moments. The heart of the series’ charm has always been the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and Yates spends his extra moments exploring the characters and the relationships between them. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint carry the movie. They’ve all grown immensely as actors, but Grint’s Ron steals the show (and my heart – I love a redhead!) with his spot-on comedic timing and plenty of sweet, longing glances directed Hermione’s way. Yates plays up some Harry/Hermione romantic tension that was never in the books—let’s be honest, we all knew from Book 1 that Ron and Hermione would end up together—but it’s pretty subtle and easily ignored if you’re not in to that kind of thing.

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