Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Diminishing Returns from Harry Potter

When folks criticize the Harry Potter books, one of the frequent defenses is that, even if they're not great works of literature, at least they've interested a bunch of young kids in reading. With the final book in the series right around the corner, the New York Times reports that the "Potter effect" may be overstated:

But in keeping with the intricately plotted novels themselves, the truth about Harry Potter and reading is not quite so straightforward a success story. Indeed, as the series draws to a much-lamented close, federal statistics show that the percentage of youngsters who read for fun continues to drop significantly as children get older, at almost exactly the same rate as before Harry Potter came along.
It's not a complete myth - "[m]any thousands of children have, indeed, gone from the Potter books to other pleasure reading" - but perhaps it wasn't the savior some people hoped for.

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