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A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Harry Potter goes to college

Though I know it's children's lit, I've always appreciated Harry Potter as "real literature" in its own way. Now it seems I'm not the only one.

This article describes how Washington and Lee Professor Suzanne Keen had started to notice her English students weren't appreciating classic Victorian literature anymore, it was as if they were "losing their connection to Dickens." Then J.K. Rowling started to write. With a wit reminiscent of English wordsmiths like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and a story with the excitement of Hollywood, J.K. Rowling helped bridge the gap between modern day young readers and the literary classics.

Keen equates reading Harry Potter to "taking a crash course in reading Dickens because 'it's got the humor, it's got the caricatured names, it's got the multi-plots, it's got the really long stories that you read for hours and hours and hours, and you enjoy the fact that they're long.'" She sees a connection between kids who devoted a hefty chunk of their childhood to reading and re-reading the Harry Potter series and college students who still read for pleasure, enjoy talking about books, and appreciate the art of literature.

As someone who has both enjoyed and suffered through Dickens, I know a Dickens experience depends on a lot of factors (teacher, novel, and reading pace included). So it's hard to give a blanket statement that Dickens has gained a sort of rediscovered popularity with kids today. But I think it is true that the "Harry Potter generation" (which I consider myself on the early end of) does read more than perhaps the age groups on either side of it. And the more you read, the more you incorporate reading of any and every kind into your daily existence, the more open you will find yourself to new books--and old books too.

Article via MuggleNet.

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