July 16th, 2009
01:47 PM ET

You might be a muggle if…

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/07/14/potter.cast.grows.up/art.potter.cast.gi.jpg" caption="Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint at the 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City."]

Katie McLaughlin


As I feverishly search Fandango for available tickets to "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" this week, I feel like a muggle infiltrating the wizards' world. I'm not quite one of the rabid fans; but really, once you read a Harry Potter book there's no turning back.

If you've read one book, you've likely read all seven - or you're fast on your way to doing so. If you know what Quidditch is, you probably know what patronuses, pensieves, hippogriffs, horcruxes, floo powder, and butterbeer are too. Also, you are well aware of who "You Know Who" is.

But I can't help but wonder… Is Harry Potter "so 2000s" or will the books and films go down in history as bona fide children's classics? Will my children grow up reading J.K. Rowling just like I grew up reading E.B. White?

The books make scant reference to a time period – although the characters' dates of birth can be found online, as clues in the book have prompted fans to do the math. Harry's birthday is reportedly July 31, 1979 - which makes us about the same age. Clearly, I am not the Harry Potter target audience.

Speaking of Harry's age, all eyes have been on the maturation of actors Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) since the release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" back in 2001. Radcliffe, who was 11 during filming, turns 20 later this month. The final book takes place when Harry is 17.

Radcliffe is busy working on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - the film version of the final Potter book - which will be released in two parts in 2010 and 2011. However, the epilogue features a flash-forward 19 years into the future; and rather than hire older actors, the filmmakers have opted to "age" Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson. So it seems that worries about the actors' aging have come full circle.

The students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry study by candlelight and hand in homework assignments written with feather pens on rolls of parchment. You will not find the following words in any of the Harry Potter books: iPod, Twitter, KitchenAid, BlackBerry, DVD or MP3.

The story of the boy wizard has a timeless message as well. And not of the "spoiler alert" kind: When you peel away the wonderful layers - house elves, centaurs, magic wands, broomsticks and all - the series' central theme boils down to loyalty, honesty and - mostly - love.

So to answer my own question, I believe the next generation of children - and then some - will read Harry Potter. They will, however, be scratching their heads, wondering what the heck parchment is.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I love Harry Potter books – I just wish the 7th one wasn't the last one. I have the whole collection and have read it several times. In our family we each have our own copy of the set – it made things easier that way when they first came out and no one wanted to wait for someone else to finish the book before they got to read it. So....separate copies for separate children plus a copy for Mum. I think you know when Harry Potter has a hold on you when you take a test to see what house the Sorter hat would put you in!!

    July 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  2. Camille

    There is a place in the world for a computer loving wizard I'm sure of it. Has to be.

    July 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  3. Tammy, Houma, LA

    And would CNN (a Time Warner company that is a sister to the giants who own and make gobs of money off Potter) have allowed you to do anything but gush about this and hope for its long-life in the literary world? I know a lot of people are into the Potter series (my stepbrother, nephew, and best friend being some of them). I personally don't get the hype about a teen wizard who through book six needed the adult wizards to save him. These characters are a far cry from Arthur, Vivienne, Morgana, and Merlin (where true castles, wizardry, and British love and fidelity will never really die). Will Potter be a children's read for a couple of generations? Probably. Will it be a classic for hundreds of years? Wouldn't hold my breath.

    July 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  4. Sharon,Daniel Island, South Carolina

    Haven't read a book, but I seem glued to the TV when its on disney or family channel. I am sure I've viewed them all at least three,four times each.

    July 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    Absolutely right Katie! Once you've been there, there is no turning back. I have all the books and am up to date on the movies. I am 52 years old and I love anything Harry Potter and I am not ashamed to say so. I could love worse things right?

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    p.s. I have not seen the new movie yet, but can hardly wait to do so.

    July 16, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  6. Holly Maness, NC

    Not to be a great, big Potter nerd, but I think according to the seventh book Harry was born in 1980. His parents died in October 1981; Harry was one year old. Oh, goodness. I am great, big Potter nerd!

    July 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  7. KateKintail

    Good article. I'm as non-muggle as you can get i think, but this is still a great topic/perspective to see. Though I'm pretty sure Harry's date of birth is supposed to be July 31, 1980 (the year I was born, incidentally) not 1979. And you are right about iPod, Twitter, etc. But in a letter Harry does mention a Playstation his cousin owns, so that does date the technology slightly.

    I certainly hope the series lives on from generation to generation. If I ever have kids, you can bet I'll shove the Harry Potter books at them when I think they're old enough. It's interesting to see the comeback of things I enjoyed as a kid (My Little Ponies, Transformers, Care Bears). The people who originally loved those things as kids are now having kids of their own so the marketing departments market them knowing kids will like them and parents will nostalgically buy them.

    July 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  8. Alecia

    great post Anderson. you are so entertaining.

    Shout out from Minneapolis!

    July 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  9. Shilpee Shrestha

    I am a total hard core Harry Potter fan! :o)

    The movie is incredible, but it never does justice to the book. I am already waiting for Part one of the Seventh movie.

    Austin, TX

    July 16, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Jo

    I have read all 7 books and I'm 28! They are timeless and I know my kids will love the books as well.

    July 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  11. Melissa

    Harry Potter is one of the great reads of history. Simply wonderful. Pity that children don't know what parchment is, but maybe it will make them curious to find out.

    July 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  12. bryan bonner

    You might be a muggle if you liked Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince...

    July 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |