It has been years since I first attempted to read Harry Potter and immediately lost interest. Part of it was snobbery on my part, and part was an innate reaction I have when people try and force me to read something I am generally not interested in doing. Then I was made to start reading it in Greek. We have not yet finished the first chapter in Greek, but not having read it first made the task incredibly difficult, so I broke down and read the first book. Once started, I figured I may as well read the whole series, so I have been going through them and I am understanding why they are a must read.
Although late to the fad, I am glad I have read this many and will finish the entire series, but what I find fascinating about this is that I generally do not like Harry all that much, and the same for Hermione and Ron. In some of the books, I have not liked even the main side characters, but unlike many series and fantasy novels, there are life lessons–especially for children.
Therefore, see here from me for the first time: Harry Potter should be a part of primary school (or Middle School at the latest) English curriculum.
This way, as with the intended audience, they can grow up with it, read them as they get increasingly more complicated and darker. It is about kinds growing up, so they may be able to relate to the situations, see examples of arguments, problem solving, interpersonal relations, bigotry, et cetera. Two things that J.K. Rowling does particularly well is to keep the story very readable and moving along, while placing her characters in situations where they address issues about responsibility, tolerance, problem solving and compassion; moreover this is not simply the students who do this, but also the teachers interacting with each other and the students. All the while the books do not preach at you, but simply have both positive and negative examples happen in ways that the reader knows the good ones and the bad ones–no matter who does it and what the reader’s other perceptions of the character may be.1
At another level, the language is easy enough that it could be used to help teach syntax and grammar, story telling elements and cross several levels of what the English Curriculum should include. Lastly, and almost most importantly it could help remove some of the stigma from the genre of fantasy fiction and encourage young people to read, which is not always the case with some of the assigned curriculum in schools.
Harry Potter will almost certainly never crack my top ten favorite books of all time, and may not break into the top fifty, but I am now on board with the idea that Harry Potter is a must read, to the point where I would make it part of primary school education.
1e.g. Snape working the counter curse in The Sorceror’s Stone.
Since this was a bit more personal than I usually include, here is a list of my favorite characters in Harry Potter, though keep in mind that I am only halfway through The Goblet of Fire and they are in no particular order:
George and Fred Weasley
Alastor Mad-Eye Moody