Harry Potter and the Transition from Child to Young Adult
Hurst, Andrea Fernanda
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The first quotation above has turned out to be self-prophetical to say the least – not only does every child in our world know J. K. Rowling’s most famous character’s name, but many adults are familiar with it, too. The seven books making up the successful Harry Potter series have triggered an unprecedented reading phenomenon both in the UK and the USA, where they continued ranking high in The New York Times best-seller list after many years (Cullinan, 2006). In addition, they have transcended the English-speaking world by being translated into 77 languages at the latest count – updated late in 2014 in J. K. Rowling’s website – including ancient Greek and Latin. These facts render the making of even an approximate estimate of the total readership of the series a daunting, if not unattainable, task. Beyond the general public’s fascination with the story, the series has been the subject of several research papers, ranging from the usefulness of these books to teach the values embedded in the plot (Lennard, 2007) to the power of literacy (Beck, 2000) and Rowling’s views on pedagogy as portrayed in the stories (Vaughn, 2011). Moreover, much has been speculated about the reasons behind Harry Potter’s huge success among children, teenagers and adults (Andersen, 2005; Cullinan, 2006; Lennard, 2007). According to Lennard, ‘Rowling feels [her books] are best suited to readers aged 8 and over,’ (2007:19) and in fact, the first Harry Potter books used to be placed in the Children Literature section of most bookstores. However, with the publication of the last instalments of the series, the books were moved to the teenage literature sections, probably because “[i]n reality Harry Potter is growing up with the books and, to a large extent, so are many of the books’ readers,” (Lennard, 2007:11).