In the journal article “Harry Potter and the Extraordinariness of the Ordinary,” Roni Natov discusses the relationship between Children’s Literature (specifically the Harry Potter series) and reality.  The beginning of the Harry Potter series targets pre-teen children whom are beginning the coming-of-age process and are becoming conscious of themselves, others, and the world around them.  In targeting this audience, Rowling appeals to the reader’s tremulous emotions by focusing on the things that children of this age group are starting to grapple with internally:  Social Injustice, Morals, Beliefs, and Truth to Self.  These themes become evident from the beginning of the series when you see Harry’s mistreatment at the hand of the Dursley, with whom Harry is forced to live and again throughout the series with each of the trials in which Harry is challenged.  Harry and his friends have to deal with choosing to do the right thing no matter the cost to themselves.  One example of this is in the Chamber of Secrets when Harry, Ron and Hermione are making the polyjuice potion.  Hermione chose to steal supplies from Snape’s personal stores while Harry and Ron “drugged” Crabbe and Goyle, stole their clothes and infiltrated the Slythern Commonroom. In this case, Harry, Ron and Hermione decided that these dangerous actions were necessary and right, because they were trying to learn about the heir who had opened the Chamber of Secrets and loosed the creature on the mudbloods in the school.

In addition to the mention of the coming-of-age process as a relationship between the Literature and reality, Natov also draws attention to wonder of ordinary life.  In the real world, everyone has books, pictures/paintings, candy, etc.  These items are considered quite ordinary and even mundane.  The same sort of ordinary, mundane items also exist in the wizarding world, except that, compared to reality, these items are actually quite extraordinary.  In the wizarding world, pictures come to life, books can scream, bite, and even literally suck you into the pages, and candy includes peculiar flavors and can also come to life.  But because these things are considered so ordinary in the wizarding world, Ron becomes amused at Harry’s fascination with these items, just as Harry becomes amused with Ron’s fascination with pictures that remain stationary.  Such a division in human reality versus fantasy helps separate reality from fantasy in Children’s Literature.

The themes that Natov points out in her article were reinforced by the young children speakers that came to our class.  When discussing things related to the coming-of-age process, they were able to point out things, such as Draco’s treatment of people outside of his own social circle, as wrong or unjust, but they were not sure entirely why.   The sense of justice and morals are just beginning to develop at their age, and since they are not fully able to articulate what they are experiencing, they can use faces of characters or situations in the books as a means for expression.  The Harry Potter series gives children something to relate to.  Also, each of the guests pointed out features of the wizarding world that they found extraordinary, but that they wanted to experience such as the moving staircases, the mythical creatures, and the candy.  Although they dreamed of being able to partake in this world, such as riding on the back of a giant spider, they were able to realize that these things were not real and only part of the fantasy genre.

 

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