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J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Its Popularity Essay

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Updated: Oct 7th, 2021

Introduction

Children’s books have been considered to be one of the most enduring forms of literature that have stood the test of time. Although considered as a late comer to the literature game, children’s stories have served a purpose from the day the first child based story was told verbally to the youth. It was an imaginative way that those before us thought of in order to warn children about the dangers of life without actually scaring them. For example, the story of “Little Red Riding Hood”, if analyzed properly, can be seen as carrying the message of the dangers of talking to strangers or, if you want to get deeper into it, the story explains, in child understandable terms, the dangers of pedophilia. In Harry Potter’s case, it is all about handling adolescent related bullying and unexpected responsibilities that forces a child to grow up sooner than he is prepared to. It is a theme that most children today can easily identify with.

Main body

It is because of the uniform content and constantly relevant themes of the children’s stories that have allowed it to endure the test of time. From the biblical stories of Adam and Eve to the current craze in the Twilight book series, readers seem to be united by literature. However, there seems to be a growing shift within the children’s literature movement that proposes to change the way we view children’s books ever since J.K. Rowling first laid her pen to paper and developed an unbelievable tale of reality based in fantasy called Harry Potter.

Through her Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling started a trend that bucked the historical aspect of children’s books by weaving together a story line that is so involving and interesting that her stories have come to be shared not only by children, but by their parents alike. It is this enigma that has cemented the place of her Harry Potter book series in the history of children’s literature. What are the reasons behind the intense popularity and unwaivering interest in the book series? Through this paper, I hope to analyze the popularity of the series and try to explain what has turned the books series into a modern classic of our times.

When reading the Harry Potter book series, it is hard for one to imagine that it had developed in the author’s mind during a 4 hour stop at an airport. With it’s mystical beings and magical characters, Ms. Rowling has often admitted that it was not easy for her to start writing the story. After all, she was newly divorced with a child on hand and living on welfare at the time. She even disguised her name for fear that boys would not read her book if they found out it was written by a woman. However, my research indicates that part of the popularity of the book series stems not only from the way Ms. Rowling told the imaginative tale of the boy who would fulfill a prophecy but rather from the fact that it was publicized by the Bloomsbury publishing firm as a must have book for children. A move that was emphasized by the tight security that Ms. Rowling demanded the publishers accord the book prior to publication (BBC, 2004).

By insuring the secrecy surrounding the release of the books, and allowing for long delays between book publications later on, the children’s interest in the ongoing story was tweaked and peaked. Just like any child favorite, children across the world were swept into the Harry mania that stretched throughout the publication of the book series and now extends all the way to the release of the movies that also share the same secrecy and “wait for the product” promotional tool that makes the “on-demand” generation simply clamor for more. Of course the highly imaginative “Hogwarts” themed book launches created a realism for the child reader’s that created long term memory association with the book series, a promotional ploy that many of the books that followed took to as well.

The book has continued to endear itself to new fans ten years after “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was released because, just like the early children’s books, it appealed to a set of readers who are only beginning to realize that books come in genre’s. By engrossing its readers in a mystery, fantasy, and adventure tale, Ms. Rowling managed to tell a story that adult readers seemingly points to a satire on society while children view it as a wondrous adventure for their ages. Indeed, her original take on such a complex tale, made child friendly is one of the reasons it remains to be a child favorite. Admittedly, Harry Potter is a world wide brand name aside from being a piece of historical children’s literature. However, through proper branding and promotions, the book will seemingly live on for generations to come as new generations of readers are born every single day.

While looking up other reasons that had to do with the popularity of the book series that was not related to its long term financial success, I found that that Harry Potter actually brought people together into a much closer relationship based upon common interest. This is a reaction that most families seem to share when it comes to the enjoyment they get out of the book series. We have parents who buy the book and have reading dates with their own children, dinner table discussions serve as a venue to analyze the content of the book and possible meaning of the stories, and even, helps parents understand what their own children are currently experiencing in their lives. In other words, Harry Potter has a long term psychological impact upon the readers as well. (Braveman, 2007).

In a way the Harry Potter book series has an enduring legacy as that one book that managed to close the generation gap between kids and teen, and teens and adults. It is a story that later on their lives, they can share with their own children or grandchildren and relive the magic of it all once again. A trait that all the popular children’s stories have shared since time immemorial.

However, we must also look into the aspect of society that disagrees with the enduring legacy that the book series has presented because of what they term to be atheist beliefs of the author which could severely impact the views and ideas of generations of children to come. 67 year old atheist professor Richard Dawkins argues that the book series teaches children to become “unscientific” in outlook and should have an effect on the children who grew up believing in spells and wizards ( Daily Mail, 2008). In a quote from the article, he speaks of how children’s stories had affected his childhood life:

Looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.

He points out something very true that can be found in all the children’s literature through the ages, each story told has an enduring effect on the life of the reader. The way the story touches the child’s life and how he chooses to apply the lesson learned in his future life shows the direct relation between the timelessness of a child’s tale, such as Harry Potter, and the life of a child. In the case of Harry Potter, all the misunderstoof misfits of this generation have a hero to look up to who actually not only improved his lot in life, but actually contributed to making a significant change in the world he lived in. Something that we all look forward to doing or ambition to do in our daily, average lives.

The Harry Potter series encourages the readers to immerse themselves in a mythical world that provokes the readers to think while being entertained. It lures a child to imagine an experience as he reads the words on the pages and at times, begs us to question the reality of tolerance and the differences between one another in both positive and negative aspects. These are lessons that are far too complex for a child to learn or understand on his own. But, through the lifetime of the Harry Potter books, parents and teachers alike shall have a highly effective tool by which to teach the rules of tolerance, solidarity, and kinship amongst one another. These are the lessons within the story that further promote the series as an enduringly popular book series.

Finally, we come to one of the most enduring reasons as to why the Harry Potter book series continues to enjoy immense popularity, as well as becoming an almost permanent fixture in debate topics. Harry Potter has a highly satisfying psychological effect on the readers. Not all the endings for the characters in the series are happy. It deals with the normal progression of life told in a way that is not horrifying nor condescending of the reader.

J.K. Rowling, in all her imagination helps a child to understand that the progression of life is a normal change that occurs in any world that one can imagine to exist. From childhood, Harry goes on a quest that takes him on a journey of self discovery, understanding of his heritage, and what it means to become an adult. Throughout all his trials and tribulations, he shows that he both a human being who makes mistakes and a wizard who has the power to change some things, but not everything because there are simply things in life that one cannot alter.

Harry Potter will forever be a popular child character in the history of children’s literature because he is not solely based upon fantasy. His life and a majority of his trials are based upon real world experiences. Experiences that future generations of children will continue to undergo and need to understand how to deal with. If all else fails in helping a child understand and adjust, maybe a dose of the life and times of Harry Potter will help place him on the right track.

Conclusion

I know that in the future, there will be more writer’s who will mimick the writing style of J.K. Rowling. They may even come up with better stories and characters who will reflect the life and times of their era. When that time comes, these writers will look back on their times of childhood past and recall with great fondness that their imagination and desire to create imaginative storylines was greatly influenced by the book series called Harry Potter and the highly descriptive writing style of its author, J.K. Rowling.

These are the truly endearing reasons as to why J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter book series shall have left a long enduring legacy on children’s literature and books for forthcoming generations to come.

Work Cited

“Atheist Richard Dawkins Warns Harry Potter Could Have ‘Negative Effect On children’”. MailOnline. 2008. Web.

Braveman, Emura. “Why Everybody’s Wild About Harry”. 2007. Web.

Granger, John. ” The hidden Key To Harry Potter: Understanding The Meaning, Genius, And Popularity of Joanna Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels”. Journal Of Religion And Popular Culture. 2003. Web.

O’Brien, Michael. “Harry Potter And The Paganization Of Children’s Culture”. Catholic Education Resource Center. 2001. Web.

“. The Atlantic. 1888. 2008. Web.

“. BBC. 2004. Web.

Tancer, Bill. “Life After Potter, Bonanza, And Gunsmoke”. Time. 2007. Web.

Thompson, Bob. “Harry Potter And The Future Of Children’s Books”. Washingtonpost. 2007. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, October 7). J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and Its Popularity. https://ivypanda.com/essays/j-k-rowlings-harry-potter-and-its-popularity/

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