How one wizard changed the world

Harry Potter

How one wizard changed the world

The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997 and the final film in the original series was released in 2011. Since then, Harry Potter has gone above and beyond most other franchises. There have been 500 million copies of the seven books sold worldwide and the eight films have grossed around $7.7 billion in worldwide box office sales. Whether you’re a Hufflepuff at heart, or couldn’t care less if Voldemort rises again, you’ve heard of Harry Potter, and chances are you know the basic premise.

But over twenty years later, the Harry Potter franchise is still a dominant force in popular culture. Between the Fantastic Beasts series, the two-part stage play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, and the ever-changing, ever-popular Warner Bros. Studio Tour, this wizarding world has continued to capture the hearts of many.  

So, why was it different?

One reason Harry Potter proved so successful is because it found an audience who was Harry’s age. Children who started reading in 1997, or watching in 2001, could grow with the story, the actors, the franchise. It was a magical - albeit less realistic - version of life and it ignited the imaginations of all who read it. 

Bewitching spells and otherworldly creatures aside, the series is about morality, learning, friendships, and growing into the person you’re meant to be. All key aspects of childhood and life more generally.

Before the first book’s release, the fantasy genre had fallen somewhat out of fashion. But the magic of Harry Potter brought it back, with a vengeance we might add. The core reason for the series’ success is still unknown. Whether it was J. K. Rowling’s incredible imagination and creativity, the heart of the storyline, or a bit of publishing magic, we may never know. But the success speaks for itself.

The Harry Potter series is acknowledged as being a big driving force behind increases to reading in childhood. It was one of the first instances of longer books being written specifically for younger audiences. Before, children’s attention spans had lent themselves to quick and easy books with little substance. But in the Harry Potter series there are some hefty reads. And the books get longer and more complicated as they go on, in line with the ageing audience. 

Young adult fiction isn’t just for young adults

Nearly 70% of young adult books are purchased by adults. What does this mean? Young adults only make up a small part of young adult fiction’s readership.

Yes, Harry Potter captured the hearts of the children who first read it. But it also captured those of parents as well. And now the original audience has grown up and will no doubt pass on the story to future generations. The series has been able to secure itself a place in culture that doesn’t seem to be budging for a long time.

Not to mention, the franchise to this day is still going from strength to strength. There are still massive traces of Harry Potter in the mainstream. The new avenues the franchise are following also seem to be maturing with its audiences. For example, touring live orchestra performances alongside showings of the films. It’s a children’s book that, in a lot of ways, has become a book for everyone.

Imagination and adulthood

The Harry Potter series is a phenomenon that remains unmatched in recent years. The books show how imagination can take us from childhood all the way through our adult lives. The magic of Harry Potter is as real for a lot of adults as it was when they first read it as a child. It teaches the importance of childhood reading and the formative effects it can have on later life. Reading books like Harry Potter in childhood has the power to unlock imagination and a love of reading that will have a lasting effect on future development.

With the UK’s literacy problem, we see an overwhelming lack of children engaging with reading, and adults struggling with literacy as a result. By not taking literacy seriously, we’re not just limiting children, we’re restricting our legacy. These are our future workforce and leaders. A childhood without the magic of reading can be detrimental and damaging. If all it takes is a simple charm to break the curse of our literacy problem, shouldn’t we do it?

At Coster Content, we view reading and literacy as power. Testing imagination and creativity in childhood can expand knowledge, communication, and innovation in our adult lives. If you have any questions or want to do your part for the literacy problem, get in touch on 0161 413 8418.

Alia CosterComment