The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
If you asked most people in 1997 if they thought this new, magic-themed children’s novel just published in the UK would become an entire universe, complete with eight movies, a London studio tour experience, a massive amusement park, and more, they probably would have said no. In fact, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published, many parents and teachers did not want this book in their schools, homes, or libraries. At. All. The book promoted “witchcraft, the occult, and anti-family themes” just to name a few. It was successfully banned from thousands of places. How could this so familiar, childhood staple, much loved book series, go from ban after ban to world-renowned family favorite?
The first Harry Potter book was published in the United States in 1998 and was immediately challenged. Challenging a book means that someone raised the idea that the book should not be readily available for the public audience. After a challenge is voiced at a school, library or bookstore, that entity may choose to ban the book or dismiss the challenge.
Even though it was published at the end of the decade, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone made the list of top 100 challenged books of the decade (1990-1999), ranking at number 48. Of course, the series continued to be challenged into the new millennium where it topped the most frequently challenged list for 2000-2009. Reasons for challenging the book included: glorifying witchcraft, promoting the occult, tones of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil, leading children to hatred and rebellion, confusing children, and leading them astray. Some were also concerned about the increasing dark tone in the later books but overall, most of the challengers’ reasons based on religious beliefs. Luckily for us fans, libraries and intellectual freedom fighters fought censorship attempts and eventually overcame them. According to the American Library Association, Harry Potter books are now the most challenged books of the entire 21st century. The books continue to be challenged and banned across the United States, the most recent occurrence in a Nashville Catholic school in 2019. Take a look at Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick for more in-depth reasoning about censoring this series.
Since its initial publication, the Harry Potter series has been translated into over 79 different languages, the most recent translation being into Scots in 2017. TLCPL has most of the series in French, Spanish, and German. If you want a different language, just ask your local librarian -- they can probably get it for you.
Over 500 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold worldwide, with more than 180 million in the United States. This makes Harry Potter the bestselling book series of all time.
Today, the Harry Potter universe can be found in almost all aspects of life and entertainment. Besides Rowling’s seven-novel series, there are screenplays, guides, and spin-off books. Authors have gone wild writing about Harry Potter’s world in many facets. There are cookbooks, knitting books, craft books, guides, quiz books, indexes, and much more published all regarding the Harry Potter universe. Video game companies have created action, adventure, and puzzle video games for all ages. LEGO has a whole line of Harry Potter universe buildable toys. Companies have created collectible (and edible) merchandise, toys, clothes, costumes, candies, foods and more.
One of the biggest, most stand out creations of this universe is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort (Florida). At this massive theme park, you can shop for your wand at Ollivanders’, enjoy butterbeer with your lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, ride the Hogwarts Express, see a fire breathing dragon on top of Gringotts Bank, buy a prank at Weasley Wizard Wheezes, and much, much more. It brings Diagon Ally, Knockturn Ally, and Harry’s world to life.
Discover the magic of filmmaking at the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter (London, UK). Props, costumes, and entire scenes fill your eyes as you walk through the studio where the magic happened. The Great Hall is ready for a feast, see the robotic Dobby the Elf, a Miniature of Hogwarts Castle that magically lights, and of course, enjoy some butterbeer as you sit outside Number 4 Privet Lane, the night bus, and the flying car.
Wizarding World (previous known as: Pottermore), is the website where all things Harry Potter (& Fantastic Beasts) reside. JK Rowling herself communicates with fans via this website, answering questions, sharing unpublished writing, and offering up news and events. The site is also famous for its Sorting Hat Quiz which will leave no doubt as to which Hogwarts House you belong (I’m a Ravenclaw, if you were curious).
As we consider book censorship and celebrate our freedom to read, why not read or re-read the most challenged and best-selling series of all time?
Original J.K. Rowling Books:
Almost all the following books are available in multiple formats including book on CD, Playaway, ebook, large print, braille, and audiobook. There are also teacher kits, illustrated versions, film musical score CDs, and translations in multiple languages.
Harry Potter LEGO Books:
Harry Potter Cookbooks:
Harry Potter Needlework Books:
Harry Potter Philosophy Books:
Peters, Patricia (2017, Aug). Intellectual Freedom Blog, “Harry Potter and 20 Years of Controversy”. Retrieved from: https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=10636