Teachers Reflect on the Magic of Reading, Thanks to MuggleNet Fundraiser
As part of MuggleNet’s 20th-anniversary celebrations last year, we ran a campaign called Magical Books for Muggle Teachers. The goal of the campaign was simple: MuggleNet and its readers worked to put copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in classrooms in the United States. Many public school teachers in the US have to use their own money to purchase their classroom supplies. This means that it can be difficult for them to stock their classrooms, particularly in school districts with limited resources.
Fortunately, MuggleNet was able to supply four teachers with sets of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for their students to use, and we recently caught up with three of them to find out how their use of Harry Potter in the classroom has helped their students.
Kristen, who teaches third grade in Preston County, West Virginia, found out about the Magical Books for Muggle Teachers campaign through MuggleNet’s Facebook page. She describes herself as “a MuggleNet fan [for] as long as I can remember,” and she had already implemented Harry Potter into her students’ curricula prior to receiving the Sorcerer’s Stone books. Last year was Kristen’s first year of teaching third grade, and she explained that she had been using the Harry Potter series as a way to allow her students to relax.
We listened to Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban during our hibernation time, which is just a quiet, wind-down time after recess where they could just listen and relax and color and just wind down from being outside and playing. They wanted to know more after we had listened to the first one; they wanted to know more about the author, so we did a little mini author study on Rowling. When I got the books this year, I was thrilled because then the kids could actually look at the words while they were listening.
Kristen also noted that the Harry Potter at Home videos have been helpful for her students. She explained that one of her biggest goals is to get her students interested in reading through Harry Potter.
I think if we weren’t in the middle of a major pandemic, I would be incorporating it more into my literacy standards. Right now, I’m really just using it as a read-aloud and trying to get them interested in reading. I teach in a really low-income area, and reading is huge because they can’t read. So just getting them interested in reading has been a struggle. So I’m thinking if I can give them something that they actually want to read, maybe they’ll think, ‘Oh! Other books might be like this too!’ I mean, of course they’re not, but…
Jen, who is also a MuggleNet fan and teaches fourth grade, chose to incorporate Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone into a larger unit on fantasy literature.
We are looking at how can you suspend your disbelief to enter fantastical worlds. We look at the symbolism; we are tracking the characters through their quests and overall that good versus evil in the theme of the story. But we do a lesson every day, and then they have to read, independently, their own fantasy book. So we do follow along with that genre.
She has also made use of the Harry Potter at Home videos, she said.
We would stream through those, and they could follow along with the book in their hand and listen to somebody read it out loud. So that was one way that we tried to still maintain the pace of our fantasy unit but not have to change out the book to a lower-level reading level.
Beyond the fantasy unit, Jen noted that she plans to continue to make use of the Harry Potter series in her classroom. Even her classroom itself has decorations related to the Harry Potter series!
I have growth mindset posters that are based [on] Harry Potter that are all quotes from the books. I have gifts that I have been given from students that are quotes from the book framed.
Jen added that the Magical Books for Muggle Teachers fundraiser was also helpful to her because her school’s library is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I just think that it has been such a tremendous help in engaging my students that I’m just so thankful that you guys were able to help put that book in their hands when we weren’t sure we would even be able to use our libraries. Our school library is closed due to all of this COVID stuff. So the fact that they got a book on their first day that they could use when we were saying no book shopping this year was just a huge help.
Our third Magical Books for Muggle Teachers recipient, Amanda, is an elementary school librarian in a medium-sized school, offering the students daily library instruction. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda wanted to make sure that all students would be able to access copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and she plans to offer a Harry Potter Book Club virtually on Wednesdays starting in January for the third- and fourth-grade students.
We’ll read, do [Harry Potter-]themed crafts, and hopefully be able to have an in-person culminating activity.
Amanda also gave the following piece of advice to any educators looking to teach the Harry Potter series:
Remember why you love Harry Potter, and use that enthusiasm to guide you. Don’t teach it, or use [it] as a read[-]aloud because ‘It’s popular, so kids must like it,’ or ‘I loved it, so I’m going to do it because I can.’ Teach it because you found it magical. Share that magic with your students. However, know your students and their emotional capacity—it might not be the best series to read to kindergartners!
Thank you so much to Amanda, Kristen, and Jen for following up with us, and we wish them all the best for the rest of the school year! Are you an educator who is using Harry Potter in the classroom? Tell us about it in the comments below!