In honor of Harry's birthday, Nirmalya Dutta wrote "Happy Birthday Harry Potter! 5 Reasons Every Child Needs to Read the Books." Her reasons include:
1. It will make them more tolerant.
2. It will help them develop a reading habit.
3. It will help them understand the world better.
4. It will explain to them that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
5. It will give them hope.
Dutta and I are clearly on the same page, and I have found some interesting additional research to support using Harry Potter with Adolescents in the classroom.
Research and Findings
Kim Schneiderman, a psychotherapist who works with young adults, wrote about how she uses Harry Potter as part of what she calls "Pop Psychology" in her article, "Harry Potter and the Therapists Couch." She encourages her clients to "conjure" up the Riddikulus charm (to ward off Boggarts) and Patronus (to ward off Dementors) as examples of how "Rowling reminds us that true magic lies within each of us when we focus on the positive and recognize the absurdity of our irrational fears." Students can reflect on their own fears and write about the solutions they can use to fend them off.
Teachers have something to learn from Harry Potter as well. Afterall, this series does take place in a school! In the article, "What Clinical Teachers Learn from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Jennifer J. Conn writes how the professors in Harry Potter teach us that "effective teachers demonstrate not only an in-depth knowledge of their discipline but possess a keen appreciation of the cognitive changes that occur in their students during the learning process. They are, furthermore, proficient in core instructional skills such as small group facilitation, feedback and questioning. Most importantly, effective teachers model appropriate attitudes in their professional setting and possess highly developed personal qualities such as creativity, flexibility and enthusiasm."
So, Happy Birthday Harry and J.K. Rowling! Thanks for all you've done for readers, students, and teachers everywhere!!!