The magic of reading

The final Harry Potter book comes out this summer. The real magic, says the Christian Science Monitor, is the way J.K. Rowling’s books have transformed reading into a fun activity.

A 2006 study by Scholastic and Yankelovich found that the Harry Potter books have had a positive impact not only on kids’ attitudes toward reading, but also on the quality of their schoolwork. The Kids and Family Reading Report surveyed 500 children ages 5 to 17 and their parents or guardians. More than half of Harry Potter readers said they hadn’t read books for fun before the series, and 65 percent said they have done better in school since reading the books. The study also found that the reading habits of boys – who consistently have lower literacy test scores than girls – changed the most as a result of reading the books.

Reading the Potter books is an “in” thing, say kids — especially boys.

Marcus credits the series for getting him interested in reading. He says his grandfather read him the first five books, but he wanted to read the sixth one himself. Since then, he loves to read medieval, fantasy, and science-fiction books, he says. He also now likes the many books he reads for school – even though the majority aren’t his favorite genres, he says.

“I whip through 50 books a year,” says Marcus matter-of-factly.

Education Gadfly doubts that Marcus reads 50 books a year. I used to read that many and more. I loved C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books.

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  1. My kids are crazy for Harry Potter. The books show up in my classroom, more than the things we’re reading. I hate to tell a student to close a book, but sometimes I have to, just to get them to focus on our activities.

    It’s truly a wonder, though.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    Fifty books a year is only one a week. I believe young Marcus.

    And Fang Jr. is one of those Harry Potter success stories. It turned him from a non-reader into a reader.

  3. I also don’t find 50 books a year to be unbelieveable. I know that I went through many more than that every year when I was in junior high school. In fact, the only reason I became a library aide in the eighth grade was so I could get away with having as many books as I wanted instead of being bothered by the silly rule limiting students to just a few books at a time. 🙂

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The other lesson of the Potter books – don’t divorce your author wife until she flops. Betcha he kisks himself daily.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:


  6. Tracy W says:

    Nor do I find 50 books a year unbelievable. When I was a kid Saturday mornings in our household went supermarket run followed by library visit. The librarians were eventually trained to open up a new counter when they saw us approaching with that week’s box of books.

    On camping holidays I was limited to one book per day.

  7. At 50-something and with a busy life, I’m still reading 1 to 2 books a week – and that’s just what I check out from the library.

  8. speedwell says:

    50 books a year? I’d go nuts if I could only read 50 books a year. I’ve averaged at least one substantial book every day for the past 35 years (ever since I was 6). Then again, ever since I discovered Project Gutenberg and PDAs, I’ve carried the library with me on a 2-gig flash card. 🙂

  9. speedwell says:

    Ok, well, no, I don’t get out much. I also don’t watch TV. I also have a large backlog of sewing, knitting, housework, and studying. Nobody’s perfect.

  10. Heck, in first grade (coming in already reading), I read just over 300 books per notations on my report card. And that was just during the academic year.

  11. LibraryGryffon says:

    My 6th grader reads at least several books a week, often requiring us to remind her that she needs to go to sleep, she can finish it tomorrow.

  12. As a child, I walked or rode my bike to the library every weekend (usually Saturdays). I think that library limited me to checking out 10 books at a time. I invariably returned home with the limit, piled into the basket on the front of my bicycle, or using my chin to stablise them if I was walking and needed to carry them.

    When we moved to a new town when I was in high school, there was no public library, but I was reading 7 books/week from the high school library. And as a 7th grader, I read on a 12th grade level, according to my junior high librarian.