You can blame it all on Harry

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
It's all JK Rowling's fault. Before the boarding school whimsy of Potter came along parents had about given up reading to any child capable of diving into Roald Dahl under the bedclothes after lights out. Thanks to headphones even the terminally lazy could snuggle down with an audiobook.

But then came the necromantic nostalgia of Harry Potter and, as if by magic, an unemployed single parent living in Edinburgh became one of the most potent forces for social change since Marx, Spencer and the microchip.

Last week, Young Tom came back from a sleepover declaring that Maurice's mum was "brilliant at Harry Potter". Evidently, to be brill at Potter isn't to understand how Jo Rowling has become a major player in contemporary marketing, or even to shell out for all Hogwarts's merchandising. No, it's to excel at all the voices, Stephen Fry fashion.

Maurice's mum, a designer of websites by day, does a Hagrid that could bring tears to the eyes of Jeremy Paxman and her Voldemort is said to be even more scary than the sight ofMargaret Thatcher kissing a newborn baby.

Personally, I have no wish to get involved in competitive histrionics with fellow parents. Books are a private dialogue between author and reader. Moreover, the day when a child masters the art of silent reading is a blessed one. I can remember the tedium of reading round the class at school with Bacon, Banerjee and Box taking us one syll-a-ble-at-a-time through deathless prose.

Within minutes half the class had switched off in boredom while the swots were surreptitiously reading ahead. Orwell became awful and Trollope tripe as the gems of English literature became a turgid exercise to make sure everyone had at least seen the set text. Prose fiction, unlike poetry and drama, is not intended to be read out loud. No one enjoys it except for the class show-off which is what Fry admits he was and what Maurice's mother has proved herself to be. Personally, I don't care how good she is at Slitherin the night away, my Muggles are private. This is one dad who's staying mum.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now