Why Harry Potter Appeals to Adults as Well as Younger Audiences

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The perspective of Stephan King, a respected adult author, on the power of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a series that needs no introduction. It is the most popular book series of all time; the movies were fairly popular as well and by “fairly popular” I mean they are the most popular movie franchise of all time. So why is it that a children’s series has garnered the attention of those who are supposed to have surpassed the age for children’s books? Simply because J.K. Rowling created a world that is so intricate that adults are amazed by the connections she made between all of the minute details, one full of magic and wonderful characters. Rowling’s writing grew with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as did her readers. The readers have now grown up and are ready to share the series with our children, just our parents did for us.

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A popular quote from Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

In Depth Plot

Upon first reading of the series, it is easy to overlook the nuances of the plot in the excitement of reading about an entirely new world and Harry’s brushes with death. Upon more readings, one can realize that the artifacts that Harry examined in Borgin and Burke’s in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were all used in later books. Four books later, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Draco tried to kill Dumbledore with the cursed necklace and instead almost murdered Katie Bell. In the same story he used the Hand of Glory to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. This was accomplished by him having fixed the magical cabinet that Fred and George shoved Montague in to in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that was the partner to the same cabinet in which Harry hid in Chamber of Secrets.

The subtle details and comments are appreciated with every additional reading. From the question Snape poses to Harry in his first Potions lesson to Professor Trewlaney’s predictions, everything seems to relate to another aspect of the series. Snape asked Harry about powdered root of asphodel which has been shown to mean that Snape bitterly regrets Lily’s death: asphodels are a type of lily and wormwood is a flower that means bitter sorrow (Ceron 2014). Trelawney’s reluctance to sit at the Christmas dinner in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because the first to stand up from a gathering of thirteen will be the first to die foreshadowed Lupin’s death in Deathly Hallows.  Lupin was the first to leave the gathering in Mad Eye’s memory in Harry Potter of the Deathly Hallows and was the first casualty of the main group in the Battle of Hogwarts.

The careful thought Rowling put into every line of her stories can only be truly appreciated by people who are older than the children and pre-teens that the books are meant to be for. Perhaps that was also part of her plan: she knew adults were starving for something well written, something that deviated from the mundanity that can be experienced after reading too many novels deemed fit for adults. The scripts that every adult genre seems to have can make one feel as though if they have read one romance novel, one mystery, one fiction, they have read them all and thus run frantically back in to the shelves designated for young adults in order to read something different.

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A quote by Oprah Winfrey, a philanthropist and television personality, about the impact of Harry Potter.

Magical World

The magical world Rowling created is so appealing that readers who passed their eleventh birthday bemoaned the missed opportunity to receive a letter from Hogwarts, while those who had yet to pass that particular milestone were still able to hold out hope. Unable to accept that Hogwarts would not be a reality, adults utilized their authority and decided to make their own versions like the theme park in Universal Studio while those in London were able to visit the locations mentioned in the books. Candy makers attempted to make Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean, Chocolate Frogs, and Droobles Best Blowing Gum realities of the Muggle world. Many vendors have Harry Potter themed purchases i.e. wands, wizard robes, Time Turners, Felix Felicis etc. All can be seen as simple toys for kids who love the books, but are really for the adults. Adults who wish for the opportunity to cast a spell to eradicate the need to manually clean their homes or to let time (or doctors) heal their wounds, and everyone wishes for the chance to turn back time and get a do-over, or a swing of lucky potion to make a day go perfectly. As there is, sadly, no literal magic world that we can tap three bricks on the left of a pub’s wall in order to enter, adults turn to the magic of Rowling’s words in the books and audiobooks, as well as through movie magic. The works act as brief escapes into Harry’s world and to see his loved ones and to battle his enemies.

Characters 

Rowling’s characters were so well thought out that even Lord Voldemort, the villain of the series, has qualities that make people able to understand why he felt the need to destroy all but the Pure-bloods. After all, how could anyone born as a result of a love potion and raised in an orphanage understand what it means to love anyone else? The only truly reprehensible character is Dolores Umbridge. The cruelty of Umbridge is highly relatable for anyone who has had an educator or boss who manipulated their power and used it to make the lives of their subordinates miserable. She has no redeeming qualities and is so detested that I feel safe in saying that if she were the villain against whom Harry had to contend for seven years, the books would be far less popular and films might never have been made.

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A quote from the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 film that were Dobby’s last words

Those who were beloved are numerous and the reasons more extensive. Fred and George for their senses of humor and willingness to help with any mischief, Sirius and Lupin were father figures for Harry who had gone so long without, Molly Weasley and Minerva McGonagall were Harry’s mother figures, Dumbledore was the mentor and grandfatherly figure. Ron and Hermione were the friends who he had lived without for so long but would have been unable to survive without after he entered in to the magical world. We mourned the deaths of every beloved character, perhaps none more so than that of Dobby. Dobby had been faithfully devoted to Harry after having been set free from the service of the Malfoys and celebrated when those with evil tendencies got what they deserved. We were invested in the success of the marriages we witnessed and were relieved to find out that, despite losing his parents in the Battle of Hogwarts, Teddy Lupin lived happily with the help of his godfather, Harry.

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An example of McGonagall’s alliterations and Fred and George’s humor taken from the Goblet of Fire film

Family

Adult readers can appreciate and relate to the difference between a biological family and the family you create for yourself. Both are important and beloved, but sometimes, as with Harry’s case, it is the family we make that can make one feel that they have found their people. Harry never felt that he was accepted or loved while he was growing up in the Dursleys’ household because his aunt and uncle made it clear that he was a burden. Only when he met Ron on the train did he find his first friend, and after they saved Hermione from the troll on Halloween, the trio was complete.

Harry was informally inducted into the Weasley family and then he discovered that his father’s best friend, Sirius Black, was his godfather and another of James’s best friends, Remus Lupin, became a surrogate uncle. Harry’s family kept growing as the Order of the Phoenix was introduced and Harry was mentored by Dumbledore who was his ultimate protector, and Professor McGonagall proved how much she cared for Harry during the seventh book. It all came full circle when, in the epilogue, Harry was at King’s Cross Station to send his two sons off to Hogwarts. He finally had a biological family that was as loving as the one he had created during his time at Hogwarts. This family was created with Ginny Weasley so Harry was officially a part of the Weasley clan, as was Hermione because she married Ron. Watching Harry make his dreams for a happy family come true is comforting for any adult: if Harry can battle the Dark Lord, die, lose a lot of his loved ones, and still find happiness, so can all of us Muggles.

The trio when 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts when "all is well" (Deathly Hallows 607).
The trio when 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts when “all is well” (Deathly Hallows 607).

Harry Potter is special because it is a series in which the author does not shy from a fairly sophisticated vocabulary and a character who adores alliteration (Professor McGonagall) while still being easy to reach and highly amusing. Readers of any age do not feel like they are reading a book that is inappropriate for their reading level. It is a world that is welcoming to all with characters who will make sure you are never lonely and always engaged. It lives on because people are still analyzing and finding new layers to the books, or creating their alternate story lines through fan fiction. I myself have listened to Jim Dale’s reading of the series so many times I have lost count, but every time it is like being welcomed back home and never gets old. I miss being able to read the series for the first time, but do look forward to reading it to my kids and watching them fall in love with the magical world as well.

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A quote from an interview with Alan Rickman, the actor who played Severus Snape, about his love of the Harry Potter series.

Works Cited

Ceron, Ella. “15 Details in the Harry Potter Books You Missed the First Time Around.” ThoughtCatalog.com February 15, 2014. Web. 20 September, 2015.

“Harry Potter series to be sold as e-books.” BBC News. 23 June, 2011. Web. 20 September, 2015.

“Movie Francises.” The Numbers Where Data and the Movie Business Meet. Nash Information Services, LLC, 2015. Web. 20 September, 2015.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 1998. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Scholastic, 2007. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2000. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic, 2003. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1997. Print.

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97 Comments

  1. Like Disney, Rowling is one of few artists to create a work that allows us to return to childhood. Thanks for the great perspective!

  2. Catherine, I found your post most interesting. As a Harry Potter fanatic I have read the series multiple times and on several of these occasions I have wondered about the inner workings of the relationships. It was not until I read this post that I was able to notice some of the underlying themes. As I was quite young when the series made its first appearances I enjoyed them as any young child would; fascinated by the magic and of course the mythical creatures. Now however as a young adult I continue to enjoy all that J.K. Rowling has given us in a new light and appreciate it all the more. Thank you for your insight on this topic.

  3. I was trying to explain why I always recommend HP as a series to read. I said it is simply that Harry is a little boy who was told all his life by those who should have loved him and protected him that he was nothing. He finds out not only that he is special, but there is a community of people like him who accept him (most of the times when they don’t think he is a dark wizard) and with whom he can be himself. And, it has spanned over a decade of my life, from my college years through now. I am reading the books to my six-year-old and they are her favorite movies. It tells great lessons of love, honesty, friendship, and acceptance. It will be a classic, and I will stay a fan… always! (had to do it!)

  4. Slaidey

    A nicely sentimental piece, thank you for the feels.

  5. The way I see it, HP was a brilliant book in many ways, but the best way it appealed to me is because it felt like Harry was in the making of a “legend” so to speak throughout the whole series, and then it all came together at the end in a brilliant climax.

  6. Harry Potter,Twilight, The Hunger Games, and other books like these are only meant for pleasure. These books are extremely simple to read and does not require one to think too hard on what happened. It’s not completely devoid of complex thoughts or ideas but it’s certainly not rich in it.

    • I have to say I completely disagree and have trouble believing you have read all of books seeing as they are none of them very similar. Harry Potter is an easy book to read but to suggest that this makes it simple or less complex is a show of absurd ignorance. If you read it, you’ll find that while easy to read, it is designed to convey an extraordinarily detailed world without compromising the experience or making it less accessable to younger readers. It requires much thought to read the series, what with the carefully planned plots and the deep complex characters to think about. I highly recommend you read it someday.

    • A book being easy to read has absolutely no value on judging the abundance or complexity of its ideas. In fact, the easier a book is to read, the more the ideas are communicated. Yes, you can choose to just go along for the ride for these novels. You can do that for any novel. If you actually look into the themes and details of Harry Potter, though, there is much more to find than simple entertainment.

  7. Peel It
    1

    Short answer: MAGIC!

  8. VelvetRose

    Really well-written article that does a good job of explaining why we all love Harry Potter.

  9. Zoeymom
    1

    Reading this article has reminded me of the magic and joy I experienced reading this series to my children. I was unaware of all of the hidden nuances and ties throughout the series. I will definitely reread them again now! Very well written and researched piece.

  10. I enjoy the Harry Potter series. I’ve literally grown with the movie franchise and novels. Very well written. I have no if, and’s, or but’s. A “Yay” to Harry Potter.

  11. Children are not the only ones who get a sudden urge to ask platform 9 and 3 quarters!

  12. Russell (mere muggle)Young
    0

    I am immensely impressed with Ms.Conte’s thorough grasp of the intricacies in J.K.Rowling’s writings of the “Harry Potter” series.
    Now,I am even more intrigued, and will read/share the stories using this new insight.
    Thank You and Well Done!

  13. YsabelGo

    Toronto recently opened a Harry Potter themed bar, which demonstrates that adults still love HP. My father was the one who read the books, and I enjoyed watching the movies with him when I was young. Great article!

  14. Adnan Bey

    I loved this one. I got into the series when I was12-13 years old and since then, Book 3 has always been a personal favorite of mine. The series has a true feeling o adult concepts like mystery, horror, drama, and so much more, it’s safe to say there’s a little bit for everyone. As an adult, I find fascination in the characters, their complexities, even stuff so minute as the pieces of dialogue, characters as major as Snape to as minor as Colin, the series is fantastic.

    The only mistake is… I think the alleged quote by Alan Rickman is just that, alleged. I don’t think he ever really said it. In fact, I thought I read somewhere that Alan Rickman never read the books.

    Other than that though, great article.

    • Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite as well!
      Also, I found out afterwards that the Rickman quote is wrong :/ but I still like it.

      • Adnan Bey

        Certainly, I still like it too. I believe it was simply based off Snape’s line to Dumbledore when his Patronus came out as a doe.

  15. LiZ Phelan
    0

    Awesome article! Loved the in depth review and discussions of the layers that connect each book in the series! I agree that the series is for all ages with meaning and lessons for all!

    Job well done, Catherine!

  16. why Harry potter is so popular? Easy, ‘caus it is awsome!

  17. Kids have always loved the ‘boarding school’ novel, so JK succeeded in just making the boarding school that much more exciting.

  18. I liked the books because they were interesting and were funny, filled with emotion, real emotion to not fakey sappy stuff, real love exists but so does hate kinda emotion. And I thought the characters were relatable, I loved that one of the main characters was a girl who loved to read and learn. And Harry had confidence and modesty and so many other qualities that I loved.

  19. Malka Sawyer
    0

    Interesting stuff, I like the stuff you pick up on

  20. This article made me want to pick up the entire series again, despite having already read it numerous times. Thanks for reminding me even further why I love this series so much.

  21. I never realized the power of nostalgia before watching the series while living abroad… It’s powerful.

  22. Charlott Low
    0

    Harry Potter is very successful because it employs universal mechanics much like the Star Wars films did.

  23. Love the Alan Rickman quote! Indicative of how important this series was/is to everyone involved.

  24. Each word written by J.K Rowling was filled with the thing the series are about – magic

  25. I enjoyed reading your article and watching the harry potter pictures .

  26. diehlsam

    This series had such a profound effect on me. I grew up with the books and movies, and when they ended, I was incredibly sad. J.K. Rowling has brought together so many people with her writing. And even for the people who may not enjoy the series, they at least still know what it is. I look forward to the day that another series comes along and gives the Harry Potter world a run for its money, but I’m not sure that will happen any time soon.

  27. Do you think the later books in the series are also intended for children?

    • I do think the later books are intended for children, but are also more appealing to older individuals because of they have more action. There is no inappropriate language nor are there scenes I would have a problem letting a child of 7+ read.
      I would have a problem letting children watch the films because they are darker and more suited for adults, but those are rated PG-13 so kids shouldn’t be watching them anyway.

  28. I have been remiss! Hagrid also plays a huge role in Harry’s life and was his first father figure in the magical world. He becomes like a proud uncle after Sirius fulfills the role of a father for Harry.

  29. Marcie Waters

    Yes! While the main characters are children, Harry Potter deals with universal themes, which also explains why not only is it popular with a range of age groups but also why it has been popular internationally, as well.

  30. sarajean221

    This was a very well written article. I love how in depth it goes and how it explains why Harry Potter is a good read for adults as well as children. My mom read me these books when I was a kid.

  31. Harry Potter’s work truly transcends all ages and generations because she deals with universal human qualities.

  32. I LOVE Harry Potter! J. K. Rowling is an amazing writer and person! I don’t care what other people think, I love the books and movies!

  33. This is a well-researched article that has inspired me to reread the Harry Potter series. Wonderful insights and observations!

  34. This was really well written and made me re-think some of my own thoughts on the series… I definitely agree with all the points made and have a refreshed love for Harry Potter!

  35. Loved reading this. Made me really think about Harry Potter’s own impact on me and my thinking of the series.

  36. This reminds me of an assignment I had in my journalism class. We had to defend Harry Potter as literature worthy of being read, and I made some points similar to the ones discussed in this article. Nice job!

  37. This is a wonderful article, and I completely agree – Harry Potter reaches everyone, it seems. Parents, kids, and everyone in between. As a Millennial, I’ve especially seen this series touch everyone in my age group – there is never a time where you’ll reference Potter and hear a Millennial say, “Who?”

  38. “I miss being able to read the series for the first time, but do look forward to reading it to my kids and watching them fall in love with the magical world as well.” I love this line. Through out your piece, you emphasize how Harry Potter is not only a book series, but a community. I find myself making allusions to the series all the time, and it’s something that everyone gets and appreciates.

  39. Writing for children is writing for adults – as long as you don’t think children are stupid, and understand that they grow as they read, and have the potential to grow in understanding as time goes on.

  40. While I am a huge Harry Potter fan and absolutely adore all of the connections, I do believe that while some of these are intentional that sometimes we read too far into the subtext of HP and come out the other side saying that the blue curtains mean something about a characters unacknowledged depression, or something, when she just wanted blue curtains because she likes the color blue.

  41. I will forever love these books and they will never not be relevant.

  42. I’m nearly 20 years old, and I still hold this series close to my heart. My friends and I often sit around discussing the books and the movies. Good analysis of why its success has continued and grown.

  43. I loved these books as a child, and now that I am almost twenty years old, I am even more in love with them, if possible. I’m forever a proud Ravenclaw!

  44. Fascinating! I grew up with the HP series and have read the books and watched the movies more times than I can count. Somehow, with each re-visit, I discover something new. I think the process of discovery is what makes the series still relevant. JK Rowling created such a complex and real world, that it continues to intrigue audiences more than a decade after the first book was published. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  45. I’d have to agree that this series appeals to both an older generation and a younger one. When I first read the series, I definitely overlooked a lot of the things – both big and small – that where linked together, but now with studying lit in college, it’s made reading Harry Potter so much more fun since it’s like reading a new book series in some ways.

  46. I liked the attention to detail, character building, sub plots and how logical the vast majority of the idea of magic was…

  47. Harry Potter is the perfect example of a story for all ages. My father read the first couple to me before I was old enough to be interested in reading large books, and then by the time the last movie came out we had gone to see 4 movies on opening night and made a tradition to read the books together, chapter by chapter. It’s certainly a family bonding experience to all love a movie and book series together. And Harry Potter is a series that can be read time and time again 🙂

  48. I think the best thing about Harry Potter is that its this world, but more. Everyone, at some point in their life, likes to think that there is a hidden magical world lurking in their garden or under their bed, a dream that Rowling seamlessly makes possible in the series, in a completely believable way.

  49. It is so refreshing to see an article that describes so perfectly how I feel about this series… I have been an avid fan since I was five and it has been so interesting for me to see how my appreciation for the world of Harry Potter has transformed over the past thirteen years. Awesome article 🙂

  50. I grew up with Harry Potter. The first book came out just three years after I was born and I remember waiting for the books and each movie to release. I went to every midnight movie release and loved his world so much (and still do). This is a beautiful piece, and I realize that I must read the series again so I can find all the connections for myself now that I am older. I always have mixed feelings about the epilogue. I couldn’t explain why, until I read one tumblr post about how it feels unrealistic. “All is well” indeed, but where I’m at in life it’s hard to imagine being there with Harry, financially stable and sending kids to school (oh how I wish I could send them to Hogwarts). It is a peaceful ending, though, and it feels right, so I can’t be too upset. I always enjoy reading about Harry and I thoroughly enjoyed your article.

  51. I think this piece felt reminiscent of the effect that reading the books had on me as a child… But I also think that the series, regardless of its nostalgic effect, should still be critiqued. What might you say to some of the critiques – such as Rowling’s plot holes and her large gap in diversity?

    • I would need an example of Rowling’s plot holes because I feel that she did a very thorough job tying things together. As for the diversity issue, I can understand why it could be perceived to be troubling, but I genuinely do not think that race was an issue in the traditional sense. After all, she proved the problems with being prejudiced against people who were not a certain way (Pure-bloods vs. Half bloods and Muggle borns). If people seriously want to downgrade the power of her series by counting the number of people representing each race, I think that they are ignoring the point of the stories. We have to look beyond skin color and realize that it is who we are as individuals that truly matters. I know that is not the case for the majority of the world, but it definitely was the point of the books, just look at Dumbledore’s quotes: “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be”, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we are, far more than our abilities”, “Differences of habit and language are noting at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”, and so on.

  52. II must say that reading your article brought back many of the reasons why I fell in love with the series as a child. Harry Potter occupies a really complicated space in literature. At the surface it is presented as a children’s series, albeit a long one, that not only draws the reader into a world suspended in magic, but also at its core throughly promotes the idea of friendship as a lasting bond. That being said, this understanding of the book is but the surface. As an adult, its almost impossible to follow the nuances you aptly pointed out within the article. However, I feel as though your analysis of why the series resonates with adults in regards to the characters themselves, left very much unsaid. Much of the emphasis you place is on the good found in the main characters, but what I feel is brilliant as an aspiring writer, is Rowling’s depth to her characters. Dumbledore is presented as the grandfatherly character to Harry who has no concrete sense of the term, yet as is discovered later on, many of Dumbledore’s motivations become questionable. He is no longer seen as JUST the sort of wacky headmaster, but instead as a man that was quite calculating in every move he made, including his death. It’s the complexities such as these, I feel, are what draw in adult readers. Often, children have a view of the world that the first book presents itself, but like life, as the series continues, life, too, begins to lose that same wonder.

  53. Amazing article! I first read the Harry Potter series when I was 7 and it’s still one of my favorite book series nearly 13 years later. This series literally transcends time.

  54. The world that J.K. Rowling created is absolutely incredible. I mean, the woman created an entire sport! But she’s done more than that – she’s touched the lives of SO many people. She’s created a generation that spans several generations. It’s incredible. Great article – loved to read it!

  55. A very touching and true article about the magic of Harry Potter, Catherine. I myself have loved a majority of the series, in the books or movies. It’s nice to be reminded that I’m not the only Muggle who was awed by Rowling’s work!

  56. The world Rowling created is just epic and the reason why I keep reading the books over and over again; all the detail and subplots just make it all seem so real as if that world actually exists. Also, she is such an inspiring woman! Thank you for this article I’m sure my Potterhead friends would appreciate it.

  57. Harry Potter is the story that has had the biggest impact on my life. I read the Harry Potter series all within a couple of months. I believe this story is such a well-written story that can connect to both the younger and older, which is something we don’t see a lot. It has so many life lessons and real-world problems that we can connect to so much. You said it best in the last line: “if Harry can battle the Dark Lord, die, lose a lot of his loved ones, and still find happiness, so can all of us Muggles.” Even though we had that fact that we are all Muggles, it’s the fact and we have to face our problems head on.

  58. I agree. The world Rowling created parallels our own in so many ways. There is a lot of history that we can connect to and understand at a more intimate level. For example, one can say that Voldemort and his death eaters quest to eliminate the muggle-born and half-bloods is a reflections of the horrors of WW2. It shows that a fantastical world will still have very real issues and magic cannot solve it for it is humanity that will always prevail.

  59. Reacquainting myself with the fandom = I have to go find and reread all seven books now.

  60. I’m of the generation who look back on Harry Potter with fond remembrance and now pass it on to our younger siblings, children, nieces, nephews, godchildren, etc.
    Greatly sentimental and fun to read 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  61. CarlaJasmine

    I also think an important point is that many adults my age (20s) grew up with Harry Potter. As adults, Harry Potter reminds of our child and gives us something to share with a younger generation because it is timeless.

    Also, I do agree that adults like myself appreciate the themes in the novel more. For example, friendship. I value friendship so much more today than I did when I was 10 years old. It is because of this, that I can connect to the relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione now more than I ever could as a child.

  62. I have to agree that Harry Potter appeals to readers of all ages. I started reading the series when I was about 10, and like the article mentions, what drew me in was the magic. I could relate to the characters and they helped me feel comfortable with who I am, even if that sounds weird.

  63. I agree that Harry Potter is a book that appeals to all ages, however the later books in the series deteriorate in quality. The very first book was an exciting and magical read. However, I found the later books appeared to be half baked and churned out as quickly as possible. The Harry Potter series is a ski hill of a read.

  64. When I was growing up Harry Porter was a family movie night film because my parents enjoyed it as much as my brother and I did. My brothers were also huge fans of the books. It has so many hidden meanings about happiness, forgiveness and patients. Harry Potter will be an amazing phenomenon for generations to come.

  65. dcorder

    I’m currently in college and majoring in English and the other day one of my professors said that Harry Potter was not literature. Rowling’s writing is incredible and every single character she creates is developed and life-like. When I first read the Order of the Phoenix, I felt such anger and hatred towards Umbridge for the way she treated Harry. I have never hated a fictional person so much in my life! Only Rowling could do something like that and only Rowling could create such a world where every character, even the minor ones, are precious to you. I don’t think Faulkner was ever able to accomplish that. But hey, if my English professor wants to live in ignorance, that’s his own choice. I pity the man. By the way, if I had to pick a favorite character of mine from Harry Potter, it would be Nymphadora Tonks!

    • I had the same experience when I wrote about how Harry Potter has influenced my writing in a draft for my Creative Writing grad school application. My professor told me that no one would take me seriously and the letter would be thrown away as soon as they saw the name Harry Potter. I think it’s so unfortunate that people in academia believe that only books like The Sun Also Rises can be quality literature. If they removed their biases and eradicated the pretentious mindset, they would notice a lot of other amazing works they were missing with their noses so high up in the air.

  66. Harry potter was my childhood. I remember anxiously waiting every day for 8:00PM to come, where my family would get together and read the following chapter. I cried, laughed and smiled countless times throughout her novels, as she went into specific details that made me grow very attached to the characters. This article made me reminisce on some of my best childhood memories. I am now reading Harry Potter again for a second time.
    Thank you for sharing.

  67. Jeffery Moser

    The first two books in the series stand alone well, plot-wise and for character development. In terms of the fictional merits, while Harry Potter became a pop icon in lit and film, from a literary standpoint, these stories are appealing yo young and old alike. They rival Twain’s Huck Finn and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, works both intended with adult messages from a youth’s point-of-view and their experiences coming of age.

  68. The appeal to adults is fairly obvious to me; first of all, the majority of characters in the story are in fact adults themselves, outside of Harry and his inner circle of friends and love interests. Rowling develops their backstories beautifully and often sheds light on their intentions in certain situations more than on Harry’s emotions himself. Also, adults can relate to the younger and older characters since they have experienced both stages of life, while younger readers may not be able to completely identify with the thought processes of characters like Lupin and Sirius.

  69. I firmly believe that Harry Potter is a fantastic series for any age. The story transcends into adulthood, just as Harry grows – we grow with him. The later books in the series are more action packed and slightly dark, but still deal with issues that everyday teens to adults deal with such as love, friendship, and foes, like Umbridge. I think what makes the series so popular is the fact that Rowling has created a whole other world for any age to enjoy and escape to.

  70. McNook

    I felt that it was an intentional move by Rowling to have the books mature with their audience.

  71. While still flawed, the Harry Potter series succeeds in tapping into our hearts by portraying what we desire the most: love, friendship, and a bit of magic. Add to that some mystery and adventure, and it is no surprise that Hogwarts is a popular destination for escapism from the mundane and harsh reality of the muggle world.

    Thanks for this article, and for the nostalgia!

  72. OrchideousFleur

    This is basically the best series of all time. It appeals to everyone in the entire world. No wonder it has been translated into like a billion different languages. Thank you Queen Rowling for creating this masterpiece. It has forever shaped me into the person I am today.

  73. OrchideousFleur

    This is basically the best series of all time. It appeals to everyone in the entire world. No wonder it has been translated into like a billion different languages. Thank you Queen Rowling for creating this masterpiece. It has forever shaped me into the person I am today.

    I do think that the movies are not that well done. Especially the later ones. I’m glad that they split the last book up into two movies.

  74. Alaina

    All true. We all, no matter how old, want to escape to a magical world..

  75. This article is interesting and and asks a question that’s Worth being asked. Harry Potter is appealing to people of all ages because of several reasons : because the magic world is unique, the characters are really attaching, the books are well-written and furthermore, the movies managed to give shape to books.

  76. I think one of the most overlooked aspects of the series, taken as a whole is the way that the writing style seems to systematically evolve with the characters. Book one is on spot, reading level wise, for your average 9 to 10 year old (kids, in my experience like to read about children ever so slightly older than themselves) the second book is slightly more mature and so on, until, in the final book you are reading a true young adult novel, with all of the themes, word choices and observations that would appeal to someone who is relatively mature, if inexperienced. It’s so gentle and gradual that it really sneaks up on you when you read the series chronologically but jumping back and fourth between the first and last book it’s clearly a stylistic choice and a sign of what a sophisticated write Rowling was from the beginning.

  77. very interesting!

  78. Kandice17

    You make some very interesting points here that I can totally agree with! I read the series for the first time when I was 13, and I’ve reread it dozens of times since then and I still find things woven into the series that I’ve missed. I completely agree when you say it registers with all ages. This book is one that kids can grow up reading. And I can honestly agree with you when you say Umbridge is the most hated. I agree with your reason too. She’s the awful person we’ve all had to deal with at least once in our lives.

  79. If I were to sum up my childhood in a word or phrase, it would be Harry Potter. Since I first picked up a book at age 6, this series has been my entire life, to the point where I get really possessive of my passion when someone else suggests that they might be the “biggest Harry Potter fan”. When I was ten years old my dad passed away, and rereading the series is what got me through that. When I was 17 i had a trademark awful relationship, and rereading the series is what got me through that. Harry Potter takes a lot of my heart. Like maybe 9 3/4 out of 10 of it 😉

  80. While I appreciate your sentiments (being a life-long Potterhead myself), I don’t think it is fair to say that children don’t understand the intricacies of Harry Potter. Kids are smarter and more perceptive, honestly, than most adults, and I think this is a point that J.W. Rowling actually addresses in the novels. One reason that the Dursley family is so abhorrent to readers is that they are unimaginative and restrictive. They can’t see the magical world for this reason. By comparison, Harry, Ron, and Hermione can, and through their imaginative and inquisitive spirits, they have the ability to save it from Voldemort. Do not discount those who think differently. By writing the trio as the heroes of the saga, Rowling affirms the child’s ability to see the intricacies that the adult cannot.

    • I think you misunderstood me. Obviously I think that children can appreciate the story, but what they can’t always do is relate to the desire for family and the love that can be formed between the family that you choose rather than your biological one.
      I agree that the bravery of the trio and their ability to fight for what they love is Rowling’s acknowledgement of the power of children.
      I do not discount anyone who thinks differently. I thought it was clear because of how much I appreciate Rowling’s work.

  81. Oh the discount comment was not directed at you! I was speaking generally about adults.

  82. You have put into words the love and appreciation I feel for the Harry Potter series. I started reading these books at age nine and have scarcely stopped since, but with every rereading of the books and other listen to an audio book (mine are narrated by Jim Dale too), I find new things I had never noticed before. Though I know the plot and subplots of the series, I now find that, as an adult, I find express comfort in the small things; late night scrambles to finish homework, Christmas feasts in the Great Hall, small moments of humor that as a child I never truly appreciated. I am proud to say that I grew up along with the series and I hope that others my age can find interest and happiness in this series as well.

    • I (obviously) feel the exact same way! I listen to Jim Dale’s readings constantly and always look forward to Christmas at Hogwarts because everyone is magical in the way that Christmas should be (not just because they are at a school for magic).

  83. People of all ages love J.K. Rowling’s work and Harry Potter series because it is amazing! Can’t wait till I can reread the series from the beginning during break.

  84. This series, and movie collection do seem to appeal to all generations. Many people seem to feel empathy with the characters, for they have similar stories. Yet, the unusual plot make people interested by how different it is from other stories.

  85. Jaye Freeland

    So glad you wrote about this. As Harry Potter’s characters grew, we grew with them. I’ve never experienced that with any other series. Simply, they’re great books. Any person, young or old can enjoy a great book.

  86. Suman

    I’ve been reading Harry Potter for as long as I can remember; with the first book released in my early childhood and the last one in my early teens. To this day, this is my favourite series because I felt like I grew up with the characters because of similar age. Not only this, this series played an integral part in expanding my imagination and creativity. As you mention in your article, the books do a superior job at teaching love, understanding, and the importance of family/strong support system, and all characters are relatable, and this is what makes this series so great for all audiences. Not to mention I think the books are extremely humourous! These books are everlasting- they are my definition of “home”.

  87. I read the Harry Potter books in my youth, but feel as if I love them more even now that I am adult. So what if people find my obsession and abundance of Harry Potter decorations weird? We don’t choose what makes us happy! Thank you for showing people that yes, they aren’t just children’s books!

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