When Magic Was Real
Sophia De Bruijn, Staff Writer
June 19, 2012 • 20 views
Filed under Features
Remember when magic was real, tree houses were time machines, and wizards received letters from Hogwarts on their eleventh birthdays?
Series like “The Magic Tree House” and “Harry Potter” have been able to captivate children of all ages and backgrounds. There was always the promise that the next book in the series would be even better, even more enticing.
“You reach the last page of one, and there’s this thrill in knowing that there’s more to come,” said Jamie Yarmoff ’12. “There’s such satisfaction when you’re finally able to go to Barnes and Noble, purchase a book, settle in bed by the lamp and a mug of tea, and begin where things left off.”
A passion for reading started with series such as “Amelia Bedelia,” “Junie B. Jones,” and “Captain Underpants.”
“As a kid, not being able to read makes you feel like you have a handicap,” said Kristhy Bartels ’15. “When I finally got to reading these books, I felt like I could find some answers on my own.”
As these series were outgrown, more advanced series became popular, and readers discovered places like Hogwarts and Alagaesia. Continued adventures with the same characters meant stronger connections and prompted voracious readers to power through the books.
“I was that stereotypical girl who hid under the covers with a flashlight and a Harry Potter book,” said Yarmoff.
Series books spanned years of kids’ lives; as Max Gibson ’12 points out, they offered a sense of continuation. Waiting for Harry Potter books to come out, he said, it “was almost like this alternate universe was discovering its own history as you waited, like the events were happening parallel to our own world.”
Gibson also enjoyed the sense of escape. “While growing up, having vivid experiences in fantasy worlds through books like that was almost like playing a video game.”
However, for every kid who loved other universes, there was one who preferred delving into real world problems.
Brittany Berlin ’12 is a Harry Potter fanatic, but she also enjoyed reading “Gallagher Girls,” “Beacon Street Girls,” and “American Girls.” Berlin read the Beacon Street Girls series when she was the age of the main character. “I could empathize with whatever struggle they faced,” said Berlin.
And then of course, there was Matt Christopher’s biographies. Kyle Hoberman remembers reading about all the big athletes like LeBron James and Derek Jeter. Since those days, Kyle has continued to love biographies like Lance Armstrong’s “It’s Not About the Bike.”
“They tell you more than what you see on the court or field,” said Hoberman. “They provide insight on the everyday struggles and adversity.”
Many readers encountered difficulty once they entered high school. “So many books required by school have killed my love of reading,” laments Yarmoff. In addition, post-adolescent readers don’t find quality series.
Mary Parmelee, a children’s librarian at the Westport Public Library, understands. “There just aren’t as many well-written fantasy novels for adults.”
Berlin keeps checking “New Arrivals” at Barnes & Noble but is often disappointed. “I’m sick of seeing fantastical, yet poorly-written books trickle into adult fiction,” said Berlin.
Despite these woes, the avid readers of the Class of 2012 agree that their early reading deeply affected them.“The series I read were the driving force that made me interested in reading,” said Berlin. “With such skill and brilliance, why wouldn’t I be taken?”