Harry Potter lights the way

Consuming interest

January 26, 2000|By Susan Rapp | Susan Rapp,Village Reading Center

Move over Pokemon, here comes Harry Potter! Publishers and reviewers alike are as surprised as the professionals who teach reading that the books of J.K. Rowling have become best sellers. The phenomenon illustrates that, even in this day and age of the Internet, video and TV, there are still books children treasure and that parents take delight in reading to their child.

Children love to use their imagination, create fantasies and enjoy humor, and these books provide the opportunity. Melanie Celano, a fifth-grader at Pointer's Run Elementary and a Harry Potter fan, explains the attraction: "Harry is just a kid who experiences what children our age experience. But there's a lot of magical stuff in it and a lot of creativity and puzzles."

Aside from the pleasure, good books encourage children to read. Consider timeless stories, such as "Eloise" by Kay Thompson, about a garrulous little girl who lives at New York City's Plaza Hotel and plays outrageous pranks on its occupants. An engaging contemporary tale is "Swine Lake" by James Marshall, about a big, bad wolf who stalks juicy pig ballerinas and becomes so engrossed in the Swine Lake ballet that he forgets his mission. Timeless stories about children overcoming boredom, such as "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster and "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E.L. Konigsburg whisk children away on dream adventures and learning.

Some books utilize language and nonsensical story lines to engage the reader. Their appeal is in the characters they create, "Picky Mrs. Pickle" by Christing Schneider is persnickety about what she buys, so she won't eat anything that isn't green or pickled. And Dr. Seuss' beloved "Green Eggs and Ham" tells of the persistence of Sam-I-Am as he tries to convince another that green eggs and ham are "so good, so good."

Then there are stories that tug at our hearts. The "Little House Books" by Laura Ingalls Wilder tell about the adventures of Laura, who traveled west with her family in a covered wagon. To find out more, visit these Web sites: www.abfc.com, www.cbcbooks.org and www.ala.org.

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