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Harry Potter, and the Making of Readers

November 5, 2011

Interesting questions on Book Riot’s Facebook Page

Yesterday we asked, 30 years from now, will more children be reading Rowling or Tolkien? Today, 30 years from now, will more children be reading Rowling or CS Lewis?

Part of me wants to jump all over JKR and say- people will be reading Rowling, and it makes me grouchy because she’s not a terrific writer… neither plotting, nor the craft of the thing is all that outstanding. And the later books really could use some editing. Harry Potter and the Deathly Long Road Trip? Such infuriating pacing! I liked it better as a movie, because they trimmed and edited so it didn’t plod along.

It’s not the most original story out there, nor the best told… and I bristled at the idea that Rowling’s writing might stand the test of time, on what comes down to good marketing rather than good craft.

But then I saw Lisa’s response, and it was comforting.

Rowling. It seems like somehow that must already be true? Hopefully, parents will know to give the children Lewis and Tolkien (and Cooper and LeGuin and…) once they’ve plowed through the Potter books and want more.

So, Rowling’s books get their staying power, but become a case of Harry Potter and the Gateway Drug? I’d buy that. And be all right with it. I know that Harry Potter stories have appealed to reluctant readers. Even kids who are documented to be dyslexic and really struggling with the written word. Maybe the adventures at Hogwarts are the first books a kid actually likes reading, and might spur the kid to try on more books, more magical worlds. The really virtuosic writing of C.S. Lewis and LeGuin and Cooper and…

I admit that I can’t personally, really understand what it would be like to find all reading a boring chore, to find the act of reading tedious rather than a wondrous journey.

So as grouchy as I get about Rowling’s longer books, I can’t argue with anything that spurs people on to read a story. And maybe be curious about more. I can’t argue with the idea of magic either, because wondering about magic surely leads to dreaming and wondering about all sorts of other good possibilities.

And maybe reading the good stuff.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2011 11:54 am

    I giggled at Harry Potter and the Deathly Long Road Trip. I actually didn’t think it was that bad, but I still giggled

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