When I was young, I went to school waiting all day to get back to my Super Nintendo and play Ken Griffey Jr baseball. I grew up in a world of technology and awesome gadgets and toys that left me no time to even think about reading. When I was in the 4th grade a book came out that changed my generations view on reading; this book made it cool and fun for kids to read. This book was Harry Potter and twelve years later it is more popular than ever before. Harry Potter is the worlds most popular book series, and some people that it has saved reading (Sperling,1). Harry Potter is also the most successful film series of all time, surpassing Star Wars and the James Bond series (Miller, 1). Harry Potter has had an incredible impact, not only on the younger generations, but on all the generations in our society. In this paper I will argue that Harry Potter is the novel of a generation and sparked social change.
The first Harry Potter book came out in 1997 in Europe and 1998 in the United States. And since then it has become a multi-billion dollar brand (Watson and Keller, 1). Potter was instantly a hit and our culture caught the Harry Potter craze. People fell in love with the first book; parents claimed that it saved reading(Sperling,1). Harry Potter changed the priority of millions of children; instead of rushing home to play video games or watch TV, kids were sitting on the steps of their schools reading Harry Potter. All one needs to do is look at the numbers, and you will see the amount of impact that Harry Potter has had on the world let alone Americas culture. The Harry Potter series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide in more than 90 countries (BBC,1). The Harry Potter movie’s have continuously grossed more than 500 million dollars. Popularity is not everything, but people love Harry Potter and there is a lot more to the books than just a terrific story. Many people look into the stories and see how these books could shape our culture.
Many parents and religious leaders wanted Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone banned because they said that the book opened up children’ s minds to the occult and other thing that would push them away from God (Barbra, 1). The first Harry Potter book opened people up power that had not been seen since Huckleberry Fin. The book had turned into something bigger than just another children’s book, the book had started a cultural debate. Harry Potter is literary genius and brought countless of kids to reading, and still people felt that it was from the Devil and was actually harming kids. These debates made it to the news, and they were discussed among many parents. This book started off with a cultural bang, and laid the landscape for what would become the great debate of Harry Potter.
The Harry Potter phenomenon sparked a conversation that not many books have sparked. How much power should a novel have on the choices that children make (O‘ Brien, 1)? There are many people who believe that Harry Potter is having a persuasive negative effect on our younger generation. These people believe that Harry Potter is clouding our younger generations ability to decipher between good and evil (O’ Brien, 1). Some of the accusations that have been brought against Harry Potter seem pretty ridiculous to me, but you have to respect the fact that many people in this world feel that Harry Potter is a bad influence. Harry Potter has sparked a debate over if the book is good or bad for our culture. Most of these groups that believe that Harry Potter has a negative effect on our society are religious groups. Religious groups have a fear that the youth of this generation will look at the Harry Potter books instead of the Bible. This is the perfect example to show that Harry Potter is culturally relevant and changing the way people view books and their impact on society.
There are many groups that have taken a more positive light on the Harry Potter books. These groups take the Harry Potter message just as seriously as the religious groups but they see these books as a spark to positive social change. The Harry Potter Alliance is one of the names of the groups that seek to bring positive change in the name of Potter. Don’t let the name fool you, these groups are serious about bringing change. The vision statement of the Harry Potter Alliance is:
“Just as Dumbledore’s Army wakes the world up to Voldemort’s return, works for equal rights of house elves and werewolves, and empowers its members, we: Work with partner NGO’s to alerting the world to the dangers of global warming, poverty, and genocide. Work with our partners for equal rights regardless, of race, gender and sexuality. Encourage our members to hone the magic of their creativity in endeavoring to make the word a better place. Join our army to make the world a safer, more magical place, and let your voice be heard. (Belser, 1)”
This quote gives you a glimpse into the seriousness of the Harry Potter Alliance. This group is putting their mission statement into action. When Haiti was struck by the awful earthquake in January the HPA raised 123,000 dollars in two weeks (Belser, 1). The HPA has also donated more than 55,000 books since 2009 (Belser, 1). This organization is striving for change, and this group was founded on principles that were learned from the Harry Potter books. A novel has changed the way people look at the world. JK Rowling may not have meant to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens and his story A Christmas Carol, but she has. She has opened the minds of many different cultures and sparked social change. The Harry Potter Alliance is an extreme example of how Harry Potter has opened the minds of its readers, but there are many more subtle ways on how Harry Potter has changed its readers. Harry Potter teaches its readers about true friendship, loyalty, hope, and standing up for what you believe in. Those are qualities that most parents want for their children and those are the qualities that Harry Potter is teaching our younger generation.
Harry Potter has changed American culture. One might argue that Harry Potter is just a book and books cannot change the culture it is the people who read the book that change the culture. That would demean the power that the novel has. There is a power that Harry Potter has and it is hard to deny it. Harry Potter is a phenomenon because it was able to catch the attention of a generation that many people feared were straying away from literature. Potter reached a culture that was all about the media for entertainment, there was a fear that novels were a dying breed. The Power of Potter proved that kids of the 21st century could still be moved by literature. That’s why Harry Potter is the book of a generation. Harry Potter has sparked a social change and brought a love for literature