The magic of Potter didn't touch all

But it's spurred several local fans to read for joy

But it's spurred several local fans to read for joy

July 20, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

After six books over nine years and with just hours left before the official release of one of the most anticipated books of all time, Harry Potter still hasn't worked his magic on everyone.

But many youths who have read several or all of the Harry Potter books said the series has influenced them to read more for fun or to read more fantasy books.

"My reading habits have changed. I didn't read that much before (for fun)," said Garrett Heck, 17, of Martinsburg, W.Va. His mother read the first two Potter books to him and his sister, and he reread them as he got older and stayed with the series.

He now reads more for fun and has been reading more fantasy, both of which he attributes to J.K. Rowling's series about an orphan who discovers he's a wizard, his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his fight against the evil Lord Voldemort.


Rowling's ability to immerse readers into a new world has captured the attention of readers of all ages since September 1998, when the first Harry Potter book was released in the U.S.

The last book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," is to be officially released just after midnight with the largest first print in history - 12 million copies in the U.S, according to publisher Scholastic Inc. The previous book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," was the fastest-selling book in history with 6.9 million copies sold in its first 24 hours, according to information at

"It makes you realize that there's more than the normal boring school books, more out that can capture your imagination," said Carly Wennick, 18, of Boonsboro.

Family loyalties can be tight, but not necessarily when it comes to Harry Potter.

Wennick's younger sister, Abby, 9, is not a fan of the books.

After reading two chapters of the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," she declared the book boring.

The Herald-Mail interviewed 24 youths and young adults. Of those 24 people, 11 had either never read any of the Potter series or read as much as two chapters.

Three of them read only one of the books, and one of them listened to one of the books on tape.

Of the youths who hadn't read more than one of the books, several said they don't read for fun but had seen Harry Potter movies.

"I didn't find the series interesting, and I started reading a different series," said Mindy Mocchi, 11, of Hagerstown. She prefers Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events."

Like her brother, Corey, 12, Mindy found the Harry Potter books too long.

The hardcover first editions of the first six books range in length from 309 to 870 pages.

The length didn't deter many other youths, though some gave up reading the series because they were busy with other things.

Katie Renard, 17, of Smithsburg, said she stopped reading the Potter series because she was busy with schoolwork and her job at Smithsburg Market.

But reading about the boy wizard led her to read more fiction and fantasy. She likes Stephenie Meyer's novels about a vampire love saga.

Lacey Abe's enjoyment of the Potter books led her to read more fantasy, such as Laurell K. Hamilton's books about vampire hunter Anita Blake, who can raise zombies from the dead.

"I just read everything that will grab my attention. I like different things, and it's definitely different," Lacey said of the Potter series.

Lacey, 18, of Oldtown in Allegany County, Md., read up to the middle of the fourth book before that book's movie came out. "I might pick it up and try to finish reading it."

Spencer Taylor, 14, of Williamsport, said the Potter series increased his interest in fantasy books and more challenging books to expand his knowledge.

"It just makes you get more involved in reading and makes you want to do it all the time."

Julianne Baker, 10, of Williamsport, said she thinks the Potter books will lead her to read more chapter books and "will probably influence me to read more books of all kinds."

Garrett Heck's sister Alaina, 15, enjoyed the endings that made her want to read the next in the series. So that led her to read more series, such as "The It Girl," "Gossip Girl" and "Sisterhood of Traveling Pants."

When Sarah Lazur, 16, of Martinsburg, read Harry Potter books, she began staying up later to discover what was going to happen next. She said that trend has continued with other books she reads.

The series also got her interested in a genre she hadn't before explored.

"I didn't read fantasy at all before. It just seemed kind of nerdy," she said. "I've just kind of turned into this Harry Potter kind of nerd."

Though her friend Garrett Heck quickly added: "We don't classify ourselves as nerds."

Party with Potter fans

Borders on Garland Groh Boulevard is having a Harry Potter party from 9 tonight until midnight. The party is free and open to the public. Activities include a trivia contest, a Snape debate and a costume contest. Chapters from earlier books will be read, and a "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" poster will be raffled. For more information, call 301-745-5897.

Waldenbooks at Valley Mall in Halfway is having a Harry Potter party starting at 9:30 tonight. The party is free and open to the public. Activities include a trivia contest, a Snape debate, and a costume contest. Chapters from earlier books will be read. For more information, call 301-582-2821.

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