Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why I Don't Want to See Harry Potter

First of all, I realize the title of the post will set some people off.  How's this: I promise not to judge you for seeing Harry Potter, or for getting excited about the movies.  I'm just not that interested.

I first read Harry Potter  in 2000, right before book four came out.  Someone gave me book one for Christmas and I read it at some point during my first year of teaching and it was amazing.  Magical.  Wonderful.  I read two and three pretty quickly and then started becoming one of those people who counts down the days until the next Harry Potter book.  Even more exciting, so did many of my students.  I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to my third grade class and they absolutely loved it.  After I read it to them, many of them ordered it themselves from the book order, re-read it, bought book two, borrowed mine - they were hooked.  We didn't have a real reading curriculum that year, and one of the fifth grade teachers just photocopied chapters of the book and had his class read them together because it was the only thing he could find that got the kids interested. 

We got a reading curriculum, so teachers weren't teaching reading using Harry Potter after that year, but many of us continued reading it aloud and kids continued reading the books.  I was a little concerned that the books were getting darker, but I would just tell my students to start at book one and by the time they got to the later books, I figured they may be able to handle them.  Most of them weren't fast readers, and it wasn't going to happen all in one school year.  But they loved the books, and I had to keep buying more and more copies because so many kids wanted to borrow them.

At some point during all this, the first Harry Potter movie came out.  I was excited about it, as everyone was, and it was fun.  It obviously wasn't as good as the book, but I liked it.  I saw the next couple of movies but quickly figured out that the kid playing Harry couldn't act (I hear he's gotten better) and just sort of forgot to watch movies number four and five.  I didn't care too much one way or another.

After the first couple of movies were out, though, I began noticing that my students didn't want to read the books any more.  They didn't even want them read aloud, and before they would ONLY listen to Harry.  Nothing else would do.  When I would suggest that they read the books, they would just tell me, "No, I can just watch the movie."  They would get excited about the movies, but no more than any other movie they were interested in.  They were not excited about the books.

As I've been tutoring this year, I've tried to get some kids to read Harry Potter.  The response is still the same.  "But I can see the movie."  The magic that was there was gone.  I'm sure it's not for all kids - I would have been all about the books, even after the movies came out - but for the kids I work with, they're over it.  Movies trump books.  The books are obsolete now.

And the sad thing is that the movies just aren't that good.  Actually, the sad thing is that for two or three years, I saw kids who had never been excited about books in their life be excited.  Then I saw it go away just as fast.  So I'm just not that excited about the movies.

One year ago: Enthusiasm
                      Another Tragedy

Three years ago: How Many Feet Do Chickens Have?

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