Reading & Literacy

Reading Magic?

By Elizabeth Rich — July 19, 2007 1 min read

With Friday’s midnight release date of the final Harry Potter book looming, the world’s abuzz with talk of the main character’s fate—did J.K. Rowling kill him off? Another pressing question—perhaps one more relevant to teachers—is swirling around Rowling’s popular series: Has the book popularized reading for hundreds of millions of children, particularly hard-to-reach teens, the way many experts say it has?

The answer is “no,” according to National Endowment for the Arts chairman, Dana Gioia, who’s also a renowned poet and literary critic. “This one series of popular novels has not been enough in itself to reverse the overall decline in reading,” said Gioia, referencing studies the NEA will release this fall.

Children’s publishers disagree with the NEA’s findings, citing spiking numbers in the sale of books for young readers since Rowling’s series began. At the same time, industry consultant and marketing professor at Fordham University, Albert Greco, notes that sales of children’s books have climbed only about ten percent since the child wizard first landed on the shelves.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.