Harry Potter Literacy

Is there not always a bit of a tragedy in the way modern parents encourage their children to read books? That they always have a hard time encouraging them to this brain-stimulating activity other than video games and surfing the internet?
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Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) has given significant wads of cash away – although she hasn’t yet committed to a Bill and Melinda Gates-style divestment – she maintains a left-leaning stance on such issues as single-parent families and child poverty.
Good luck to her, I say. After all, she can’t exactly be blamed for having dreamed up a saga, when living on benefits as a single mum in Edinburgh, that then went on to wallpaper the entire fucking world. I mean, Rowling has always said she knew how the last book would end when she was working on the first – but there’s a difference between literary precognition and seeing the actual future. There are even those who would say that, whatever the merits of the Potter books in and of themselves, they have genuinely assisted otherwise disaffected yoof – in particular boys – to embrace literacy. On this I have my doubts, but perhaps someone out there in Esquire-land will set me right. In my experience, plenty of boys read the Potter books with fierce attention, then cast them aside and get back to wasting zombies on their Xboxes.

Written by Will Elf in Esquire UK (July 2011)

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