My family experience traces the phenomenon to the school library. Our youngest daughter brought home a copy around year four, when she was 9. Her elder sisters commandeered it and insisted that the parents read as well. What Ms. Rowling achieved—long before Warner Bros. adapted her work into films, the last of which will be released next week—was a children-led read-in that crossed all age barriers, uniting families in a primal fireside act of sharing an unfolding story, page by page.I remember that summer when I started reading Sorceror's Stone with entling no. 3. After two afternoons of reading aloud, together, she took the book upstairs and finished it on her own and pronounced it a grand read. I credit JK Rowling with her reading fluency to this day.
I was very fortunate at the start of my school librarian career. My first year as a school librarian saw the stampede for books about the Titanic, thanks to the movie. At that point we only had Exploring the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard and a picture book biography about Molly Brown, Heroine of the Titanic by Elaine Landau. Publishers soon got up to speed. (I remember the almost mele at the Little Brown booth for Inside the Titanic.)
Then there was Harry, wonderful Harry. I met a former student, not long ago, who recalled that I handed him a copy of the first book and he became a reader from that day forward. Rowling's books made every librarian look good as children clamored for the books.
As I look forward to the final film chapter of Harry's story on Friday I am reminded of how exciting it was to anticipate the very first movie along with my students. Seeing photo stills of Hogwarts with the floating candles in the great hall was thrilling. As the end of his film journey is at hand, I am cheered to see the books still being checked out by a new generation of readers in school libraries today. I am so happy the my family and I were there for the first grand ride.