Harry Potter continues to inspire Scots children – over two decades after it was first published

New stats revealed as part of a major literacy study show that the boy wizard dominates the list of stories being read by primary kids across the UK.

HARRY Potter may be more than 20 years old but the books are still inspiring a generation of readers.

New stats revealed as part of a major literacy study show that the boy wizard dominates the list of stories being read by primary kids across the UK.

Out of the ten most-read titles, the top seven are from JK Rowling’s magical series.

And one of the books — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is the final novel in the collection — makes it into the secondary school top ten as well.

Professor Keith Topping, who led the What Kids Are Reading study at Dundee University, says the wizarding world continues to inspire kids to love the written word.

The education expert said: “Obviously Harry Potter books keep motivating a new batch of children every year.”

And he believes the fantasy series has created a hand-me-down generation with parents and older brothers and sisters who loved the books two decades ago now excited to pass the stories on to their own kids and siblings.

The literacy study revealed that school pupils in Scotland and Northern Ireland have the joint-highest level of reading comprehension among the home nations.

It also found Scottish pupils read the “least difficult” books on average, though. And analysis of the difficulty of books being picked up by kids revealed reading for pleasure was a main factor in a “clear formula for literacy success”.

It’s clear from the sales of Harry Potter books — which topped 500million last year — that youngsters are devouring the titles for the joy of it.

And Prof Topping also reckons kids are growing up with Harry Potter, with the books progressing in maturity as the wizard character himself does.

He said: “The first Harry Potter book is not so difficult — but the others are more difficult. The second Harry Potter book was pretty damn difficult.

“What’s interesting about this is that the books are not overly difficult, but nonetheless they are read with very good comprehension, so that is clearly a sign that they are still motivating children.”

Prof Topping’s analysis also found primary school children typically read more advanced books for their age. By the age of 10 and 11, they are reading at their chronological age, but by their 12th birthdays they are reading one year less.

Professor Keith Topping says the wizarding world continues to inspire kids

This gap doubles by the second year of secondary school in Scotland and, in later years, falls to at least three years behind.

After the report was published this week, literacy and assessment provider Renaissance UK — who compiled the data for Prof Topping — called on teachers and librarians to ensure pupils are reading books of an appropriate level to help develop literacy skills.

James Bell, the organisation’s director of professional services, said that while Scots youngsters are among the top readers in the UK, they still have some way to go if they’re going to climb up the international rankings.

He said: “Literacy is at the heart of every successful education. Reading is fundamental to a broad range of subjects.

“We have to make sure that children are both challenged and charmed by books.”

“Wizard books got me hooked”

TRAINEE journalist Valentina Servera Clavell has been a Potter-head for more than half her life. The Barcelona native, who now lives in Scotland, picked up her first boy wizard book at seven. Now aged 20 she tells how the series has inspired a lifelong love affair with reading.

ENGLISH isn’t my first language so I first read Harry Potter in Catalan when I was seven.

I completely fell in love with the whole story — which at the time was a way of escaping from hard times I was having at school.

Then aged 11, my mum gave me my first-ever book in English — Harry Potter — as a hand-me-down.

I fell in love with the English language, the jokes worked better in Harry’s native tongue.

It’s no exaggeration to say the Harry Potter books inspired me so much that by the age of 18, with a thick Spanish accent, I packed my suitcase and moved to Scotland for my own amazing journey. So I can see why, for so many kids, Harry Potter is their first choice.

The books can inspire. Harry’s adventures and his perpetual conflict with Voldemort help encourage readers to be brave, loyal and inspire values that will help them face their own Dementors in real life.

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