We’ve talked a lot about the importance of literacy on this blog and how traditional children’s leisure activities (like reading a good book, for example) are on the decline in today’s digital playground.
That being said, children’s literacy scored a major victory this past weekend thanks to the release of the final Harry Potter book. Kids in all English-speaking nations turned off their TVs and logged off the Internet to hunker down with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released this past Saturday morning at midnight.
Not that the popularity of the final Harry Potter book is that surprising. After all, the Harry Potter books are one of the biggest series ever. What is surprising, however, is that the book release and subsequent fan-demonium occurred only a mere week after the release of the fifth Harry Potter movie, The Order of the Phoenix.
Now, if we look at children’s recreational trends of the past few years, all signs should have indicated that the MOVIE would be more popular. After all, movies are part of the media-literate vernacular right along with iPods, video games, text messaging, computers, etc.
But, for one weekend, kids unplugged and the more traditional, and decidedly un-digital, activity of reading reigned in popularity.
Fans of all ages lined up in bookstores at midnight to buy the book and be the first on their block to find out what happens to Harry Potter and friends. In fact, this past weekend was a record-breaker in Canadian book sales.
Maybe the record-breaking weekend for reading happened because the book is the last in the much-loved series and has been promoted since JK Rowling announced the finale. Or maybe it was because it was the second weekend of the movie, but in either case, whatever gets children excited about reading and looking forward to reading is a good thing.
For the sake of children’s literacy everywhere, I hope that Rowling reconsiders and continues working her unique brand of literary magic—a magic that gets kids excited about reading.