Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon that changed the world of literature forever. Every child in the world has it read to them at bedtime. Millennials grew up with the films, and they grew up hoping that one day, they’d get their Hogwarts acceptance letter, delivered by owl to their home.
We can all learn something from the modern classic, whether it’s the importance of love and friendship, or how to conquer our demons. However, a recent study claims that The Boy Who Lived has an even more fantastic effect – his story seems to make us better people.
To clarify, a study was done in recent years – that was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology – has found a link between children reading Harry Potter and levels of prejudice. When young people were asked how emotionally attached they felt to the series, those who claimed a significant connection were less likely to have any discrimination against minority groups.
J.K. Rowling herself is known for her generosity. Though originally from a poor background, she’s never let the fame and fortune go to her head. She’s always been charitable and outspoken against those who are socially prejudiced. She’s threaded her kindness into the characters she wrote, making them flawed, but well-meaning human beings. Except for Voldemort, of course.
Our history influenced a lot of Rowling’s work – wizards aren’t so different to us after all. The Death Eaters are meant to be extremists focussed on being ‘pure of blood,’ but Rowling’s novels show them for who they are – cowards. With so many comparisons to the real world, it’s not hard to glean empathy and strength from between the pages of the Potter series.
The Harry Potter series makes it clear that there’s no shame in being different. Neville isn’t the most talented of the wizards, but he’s consistently praised for his courage and his affinity for Herbology. In the end, he’s one of the most loved and most influential characters of the series. Oppositely, Hermione is one of the smartest witches of her age, despite her enemies dubbing her a ‘Mudblood’ due to her parentage. Of course, a reader is much more likely to side with these two characters, who are inspiring and loveable each in their ways. It’s easy to see how when there are such strong role models; a person can grow to be a better person just by reading a book.
Let us not forget that J.K Rowling broke through a lot of stereotypes. Umbridge, a woman with a sweet voice and a love of kittens is an enemy of the series that many fans think is on par with the Dark Lord himself. Hagrid, on the other hand, is a giant. He’s had a complicated past, and he’s meant to be a fearsome being, but he’s the sweetest character in the entire series. J.K Rowling continually proves that one can’t be judged by how they look – it’s on the inside that matters.
So in other words, if you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you’re almost guaranteed to be a better person because of it. Any excuse for a re-read.
About the Author: Hayley Anderton is a Creative Writing graduate from Liverpool. She’s a freelance writer and the self-published novelist of the LGBT YA book, Double Bluff. She doesn’t go anywhere without a notepad and has been writing ever since she can remember. Her other interests include baking, talking about politics and feminism, and snuggling up with her cat. She has dreams of traveling the world with her best friends, and of being a well-known author someday.