Wrock on, Harry Potter!
Our upcoming midnight release party for J.K. Rowling’s first muggle novel, The Casual Vacancy, has lead to some serious Harry Potter nostalgia on my part. Cracking the series open for the umpteenth time is only a very small part of my connection to the books.
A generation of readers grew up with Harry Potter, and it’s exciting to work at a bookstore and see an entirely new generation of readers discovering the books. According to a report by Scholastic, “51% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years old say they did not read books for fun before reading the Harry Potter series.” Not only does the Harry Potter series foster a love of reading in children, it engages them on a number of different levels. In addition to the books and movies, there are Harry Potter conventions galore, theme parks and tourist attractions, wizard rock bands, and even a very large non-profit organization that works to improve the world in myriad ways. Harry Potter connects all sorts of unlikely people!
My personal favorite piece of the Harry Potter phenomenon is wizard rock, aka “wrock”. Wrock sprung up spontaneously between 2002 and 2004 with an extremely “DIY” ethic. The founding wrock band, Harry and the Potters, gained a huge following online with such catchy tunes as “The Dark Lord Lament” and “Save Ginny Weasley”. As they grew in popularity, other wrock bands started to form: Draco and the Malfoys, The Whomping Willows, and Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Squills are just a few of the more than 60 wrock bands that have played at one time or another. In 2007, when the last Harry Potter book was released, Harry and the Potters played a show to 15,000 people in Harvard Square. Wizard Rock concerts are no small thing!
In 2005, one of the brothers behind Harry and the Potters co-founded the Harry Potter Alliance. The Harry Potter Alliance works to “make the world a more magical place”, and they focus their efforts on dozens of projects having to do with equal rights, poverty, and genocide. They recently won a $250,000 grant from the Chase Community Giving Contest. This summer, the Harry Potter Alliance is teaming up with Harry and the Potters and The Whomping Willows to “Wizard Rock the Vote” by registering new voters at their shows all around the country.
When books form a community, the results can be unpredictable. Harry Potter fans have nurtured their love for the books into expanding their love for the world we live in; they are commendable in the extreme. Long Live Harry Potter!
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