Harry Potter and the Amazing Transmedia

In 1997, the book series first introduced the consumer to J. K. Rowling’s characters and setting, a world overlapping our own, teaming with magical possibility. We see it almost exclusively from Harry’s point of view, taking in his introduction of the Wizarding World as our own. We find out that not everything is as perfect as it appears at first glance, that there are problems even magic can’t solve.

"Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire?"

The movies started being released in 2001, closely following the paths the books led, with some obvious exceptions due to time limitations. (I’m still a little… peeved, that Peeves isn’t in the movies.) These let the consumer actually “see” the Wizarding World for the first time. While the illustrations in the books gave us an idea, we finally knew, unequivocally, what Harry Potter looked like, how the gate to Diagon Alley opened, Harry’s first wondrous sight of Hogwarts… The movies did a very good job of introducing non-readers to the Harry Potter universe, even though some things were over-dramaticized for the screen.

"DID YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIRE?!?"

Also in 2001, Rowling published two small books for charity: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages“. These exist in the Harry Potter universe as a textbook and a library book, respectively, and their release was quite exciting for fans. We could finally have a small piece of the actual Wizarding World for ourselves, and also learn quite a bit about topics not strictly covered in the series. She similarly made “The Tales of Beedle the Bard“.

In 2004, Rowling launched a whimsical site that was really more of a long-winded blog than a structured website, but we loved it anyway. She expanded on some facts and backstories that never made it into the series, such as how Dean Thomas’ father was a wizard killed in the first reign of Voldemort. The site was revamped in 2012 and lost a lot of the old information, replaced with new. There is also Pottermore, an interactive website that fans can engage with. There are Harry Potter video games, board games, card games, and almost any kind of game you can shake a wand at.

One of the most recent additions to the Harry Potter universe is the theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. I was able to go this past January, and it was incredible. Actually walking the odd streets of Hogsmeade, standing next to the Hogwarts Express, eating in The Three Broomsticks (Butterbeer is delicious!); I was fully immersed. It was just amazing. The park now has a section of Diagon Alley, too, and I can’t wait to go back. There are wands you can use that, with certain motions at specific locations, you can activate spells. How cool is that!

Hogsmeade.Hogsmeade.

This doesn’t even touch on the huge amount of fanfiction and fanart that the fans have made, and frankly I shouldn’t get into that discussion if I want this post to end before the class does.

The transmedia experience of the Harry Potter universe has been a slow burn over almost two decades, and I can’t wait for the movies based on Fantastic Beasts to come out. I couldn’t imagine constricting someone to just one aspect of the universe; all of them together (or sequentially, I suppose) create something just… magical.

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Chapter Book, Transmedia Post

Bibliographic Information: Rowling, J. K. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. New York: Scholastic, 2007.

Plot Description:
This book exists inside the Harry Potter universe as a collection of folk tales that wizarding children grow up with. The most important story is The Tale of the Three Brothers. The three wizards used magic to build a bridge over a treacherous river. Death felt cheated, so he figured out another way to get his souls. He offered each brother a boon. The oldest brother demanded an undefeatable wand, the second brother wanted a stone that could bring the dead back alive, and the youngest brother asked for a cloak that would hide him from Death itself. The first brother bragged about his unbeatable wand, and someone slipped into his room at night and killed him, stealing the wand. And so Death took the first brother. The next brother returned to his home and brought his beloved back to life, but she was only a mockery of a living human. He killed himself in his depression. And so Death took the second brother. Death didn’t find the third brother again for a very long time. It was only when the man was old and ready to die that he passed on the cloak to his son. He greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, as equals.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 1290; Accelerated Reader: 8.3

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the misadventures of each tale. It teaches many morals: to be kind, to believe in yourself, to love, to not be greedy, and to be humble. The text is 6th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 5th grade through 7th grade. It explores themes like mystery and adventure.

Note: The Tale of the Three Brothers is critical to the seventh Harry Potter novel, and was beautifully animated in the movie.

Excellent books for kids

A list of amazing tales that I’ll be reading to my eventual children. Some of my favorites in the order of the list:

Shel Silverstein’s Poetry
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Tales of Middle Earth
The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Stuart Little by E.B. White
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Curious George by H. A. Rey