For many years now, the Harry Potter phenomenon has shaken contemporary culture. Fantasy has come out of the shadows. It is no longer a subject intended for “geeks” and “nerds,” a sort of reading material or movie that is intended only for those who don’t want to have friends. Instead, it’s popular. Book stores are filled full of fantasy novels in with bright covers. Kids feel free to bring their fantasy novels to school with the full knowledge that they will not be mocked.
The Harry Potter books have done more than that, however. They have introduced much of a generation to the concept of reading. They have fascinated children and made them willing to explore books in new ways. They have intrigued and excited even reluctant readers.
What is it about these books that is so fascinating—and as they fade out of popularity, how do you find another book that will entice your children in the same way?
Harry Potter is a coming of age story. This is a defining period in every young person’s life. The road of adolescence—beginning at around age ten or eleven and stretching through eighteen—is one with which everyone can identify, whether because they are eagerly anticipating it or because they remember it. In this way, Harry’s story is able to span the generations.
The love story is subtle. No hitting you over the head with “romance this” and “romance that.” While there are certainly romantic aspects to the story, and there are certainly those who would like to see more of the relationships between the characters, it is present enough to be felt without being overwhelming. Children need these kinds of stories—stories in which the romance is not all-encompassing, and they are able to explore outside of its importance. Harry’s girlfriends are never main characters, and they always take a back seat to his greater adventures, which keeps boys intrigued and girls coming back for more.
It opens up a whole new world. Everyone imagines, at times, that they will someday be able to step outside their own world. For children, this is in a magical sense: they want a literal “new world” to open up before them.
It is deeply moral. Harry faces many decisions that must be made on an epic scale. Will he do what is right in spite of the cost to himself? This is an issue that children struggle with every day, though on a significantly smaller scale. The life or death impact of Harry’s choices keeps many readers coming back for more.
So how do you find another book like these? You explore. You ask librarians, teachers, and bookstore owners what is currently flying off of their shelves—and then you let your child choose. You never know what will tickle your child’s fancy—or what currently-unknown author may be the next J.K. Rowling.