Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Steamboat Springs The people who huddled around tables Wednesday evening to discuss Harry Potter were anything but children interrupting each other to share what they loved most about J.K. Rowling's books.
They were, in fact, adults huddled around tables graciously taking turns telling each other about their fascination with Harry Potter.
The Alpine Enrichment Program's Novel Idea provided an opportunity for people intrigued by the books to talk about the Harry Potter phenomenon.
Ardent fans and newcomers unfamiliar with the lingo came to the forum held on the campus of Colorado Mountain College.
Whether they knew everything about the boy with the wire-rimmed glasses or knew only his name, they all knew a child enamored by Harry Potter.
That commonality, they decided, proved how deep a chord the books' author has struck with children who might not have otherwise shown any interest in reading.
Despite the controversy generated by Rowling's work, many in the group said parents should not shy away from the books.
Parents and adults should instead use the controversial issue as an excuse to spend more time with children, CMC library technician Sarah Winter said.
Rather than treating the books as something akin to forbidden fruit, she said, parents with concerns about the book should read it with their children and point out their concerns.
It's better to guide children through the Harry Potter series than to keep it from them, said Currie Meyer, youth services technician at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
The concern about Rowling's references to witchcraft and sorcery has compelled parents and adults to take a closer look at their children's reading material something they should always do, Meyer added.
"It's getting parents involved in what their kids are reading, for better or worse," she said. "It's pulled parents in more than they might have been."
Participants agreed the Harry Potter phenomenon arose in part because of the climate in which Rowling released her books.
Children are looking for an escape from the harsh reality of school violence, peer pressure and the more recent scare of terrorism, and Harry's world provides such an escape, Lisa Williams said.
The story of Harry Potter provides the perfect coming-of-age story, she said.
Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and godparents all shared stories of reading the books with children.
Molly and Austin Theimann, a young married couple, said they took turns reading each of the four books to each other.
John Spezia, who confessed to never reading the books but was still intrigued by their apparent charm, said he was encouraged that a story so beloved by children could spark such interest among older readers.
"It's nice to see that age knows no barrier for these things," Spezia said.