20 years later, new generation of Harry Potter fans emerge
NEW YORK — K’lyssa Moore wasn’t that much older than the elementary school students she now teaches when she first fell in love with Harry Potter soon after the books first started coming out.
The 28-year-old reads at least part of the first book to her classes, and isn’t at all surprised when they fall under the spell of the boy wizard, just like she did, and are endlessly curious about what happens next, just like she was. But the similarity ends there, since they have something she didn’t — all seven books at their disposal.
As the 20th anniversary of the initial publishing of the first Harry Potter book is celebrated this week, another generation is being introduced to Harry, Hogwarts and all the rest of the magical world created by author J.K. Rowling.
For some of their first-generation-fan parents and other adults often doing the introducing, there’s a little bit of wistfulness that their kids won’t get to experience the midnight book release parties and other hoopla that surrounded the Harry Potter publishing phenomenon. For others, though, there’s the slightest bit of (cheerful) envy that their kids won’t have to wait to find out what happens next.
Moore is firmly in the first camp.
“Part of it, the fun of being a fan when the books were coming out, you were living it as Harry and all the characters were living it,” the Lubbock, Texas, resident said. “The wait between books was kind of like the summers they had in-between school when Harry was disconnected from the (magical) world. You do miss out on getting to make up your own theories and getting to guess what you think is going to happen because you can pick up the book and find out right away.”
Chloe Galkin is pretty sure she could probably live with that. The 41-year-old from Maplewood, New Jersey, has seen her 8-year-old son Theo tear through the entire series. “I think I would have loved to have them all, just the way he does,” she said. “We’ll finish one, he can’t wait to start the next one. I think that’s almost better in a way that you can read them continuously.”
The first book in the Harry Potter series was published in Britain on June 26, 1997. It’s since sold more than 450 million copies globally, in 79 languages. It took 10 years for all the books to come out, with multi-year gaps between offerings.
And remember, the discussions and events and fan theories were there because people needed to find ways to pass the time, pointed out Erin Pyne, 40, of Orlando, Florida. She should know — her immersion in all things Harry Potter led her to working with Universal Studios on its massively popular Harry Potter themed park attraction.
“This Harry Potter generation,” which includes her 6-year-old son, Rowan, “is so lucky, because they don’t have to wait,” she said. “We had to wait and wait and WAIT.”
Emma Joanisse can’t imagine that. The 10-year-old read the series starting with one of the numerous copies of the first book owned by her stepmother, Josee Leblanc.
“I’m glad that I didn’t have to wait because I could just read them all and not have to stop,” said Joanisse, of Montreal, through Leblanc’s translation. She admitted the idea of midnight book release parties and other events had a certain appeal, though. “It sounded like fun, being all together,” she said.
Envious or not, sharing the Harry Potter love with a new generation has been a joy and a testament to the staying power of the books, said Clayton Lord, 36, who has read the first four with his husband and their 6-year-old daughter, Cici. Prior to starting that effort last year, he hadn’t re-read the first books in the series in many years.
“There are things that you read when you’re younger and then you get back to them and you realize they’re not all you thought they were,” said Lord, of Edgewater, Maryland. When it comes to Harry Potter, even after many years, “they’re very very well-crafted, the writing is really beautiful and controlled ... I think that they hold up incredibly well.”