What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter celebrate birthdays today.
|Grades||7 – 12|
|Calendar Activity Type||Author & Text|
It's a double birthday! J.K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965, in Bristol, England. From the stories that Rowling tells about her composition of the Harry Potter book series, Harry was born on a train one day when she imagined the story. Harry's official birthday as recorded in the novels, however, is July 31. Combine the celebration of both birthdays by celebrating the anniversary of the release of the last book in the much-loved series!
The Harry Potter series is one of the most challenged series of books in the United States. The series is singled out because of its fantasy and magical elements. Young adult author Judy Blume, no stranger to challenges herself, wrote an article appearing on Censorship News Online, Is Harry Potter Evil?, which outlines her reaction to the debate.
Have your students think about why people challenge the Harry Potter books and whether they agree or disagree with the arguments. For a more structured exploration, try A Case for Reading-Examining Challenged and Banned Books, a WebQuest that invites students to take on the roles of concerned citizens, public librarians, school librarians, and fans of Harry Potter and decide whether the books should be banned from the public library. Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues leads students in researching the reasons several books are banned or challenged.
Note: If you face a censorship challenge yourself, you can receive help from NCTE.
- Harry Potter Website
Scholastic presents the official homepage of the Harry Potter series. The site includes information about the books, reference information, discussion areas, games, and more. Using the glossary in the Reference Guide area as a model, students can create their own glossary of terms for another book.
- J.K. Rowling Official Site
J.K. Rowling offers peeks into scenes, characters, and other tidbits that didn't make it into her novels, as well as the truth behind rumors about her books.
- News Round: Harry Potter
The BBC offers this page of Harry Potter news, interviews, games, and more especially for children. The page also offers a chat room, where children can discuss topics related to the books.
- Rowling v. RDR Books Trial
Sanford Law School offers trial transcripts of Rowling's 2008 copyright infringement lawsuit against a company attempting to publish a Harry Potter encyclopedia without her permission.
Activities & Projects
Grades 9 – 12 | Activity & Project
In this activity, you can discuss with teens how they can tell the “good” characters from the “bad” ones by watching for clues that the movie makers have left.
Games & Tools
Grades 6 – 12 | Game & Tool
Harry Potter. Frodo. Luke Skywalker. These popular characters from novels and films share a common root: the ancient myth of the hero’s journey. This tool gives teens the information they need to take a closer look at an epic hero or create a hero of their own.
Grades 6 – 8 | Printout | Writing It Out
Children can take a turn in the director’s chair. They can make decisions–and learn the elements–of stories told on film.