Harry Potter’s life with the “perfectly normal” Dursleys at Number 4 Privet Drive leaves a lot to be desired. After all, his bedroom is the cupboard under the stairs, his cousin Dudley is a moron and his aunt and uncle treat him as an inconvenience. But on Harry’s eleventh birthday, any illusion of normality is rudely shattered when half-giant Rubeus Hagrid bursts into the house to deliver Harry a letter from Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The shocking news that Harry is a wizard is the start of an exciting adventure to meet his destiny.
Harry enters the magical world via the legendary platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross station and never looks back. The boy wizard meets his first real friends on the Hogwart’s Express - serious but kind Hermione Granger and fun and fiery-haired Ron Weasley - and feels like he has come home at last. However, Harry cannot escape his tragic past: as “the Boy Who Lived” his destiny is tied to that of the evil Lord Voldemort (or “You Know Who”).
Harry is pitched into many hair-raising adventures, but the friends’ courage, loyalty and curiosity mean they triumph time and again. These adventures are just part of the books’ appeal. The fact that Harry and his friends are casting spells and fighting evil against the backdrop of normal school life, whilst dodging teachers, doing homework and navigating friendships, conflicts and even romance, makes them all the more thrilling.
The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the USA) was published in 1997 and, since then, the seven-book-series has gone on to break all kinds of records, selling over 500 million copies worldwide. Author JK Rowling wrote the books over seven years in various cafés in Edinburgh as she struggled to make ends meet as a single mum, never dreaming that Harry Potter would become one of the best-known book characters ever written. The books are widely credited with changing the landscape of children’s fiction and have won multiple prizes including the Nestlé Smarties Prize and the British Book Award.
In 2001, the books were catapulted to an even wider audience with the release of the Hollywood film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The films launched the careers of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and even Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory. Since then, Pottermania has shown no signs of abating: you can find Harry Potter Lego, toys, video games, a Harry Potter theme park, a successful stage play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and more. Potterheads can find out what house they are in, what their Patronus is, visit Platform 9¾ and even play Quidditch.
Whilst the films are firm family favourites, needless to say they cannot live up to the enchanting books. The seven books allow children to grow up with Harry. More adult themes emerge in the later books and some of the battles and tales of dark magic can be frightening so we say that the Harry Potter reading level starts at age 8 but the later books are perhaps age 10+. And if you love the Harry Potter books, check out the Harry Potter Films and our favourite Harry Potter Quotes!
Muggles beware – we are passing the magic on!
All the Harry Potter books in order:
Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
Stage Play Script: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)