Sent to the Harford Courant, August 2
I loved the Harry Potter series and I’m sure many people, young and old, will appreciate the planned webcast with J.K. Rowling and the online book club (“J.K. Rowling launches Harry Potter book club online,” July 31). But the book club will not make a significant difference in “introducing children to the joys of reading.”
A great deal of research confirms that the single greatest barrier keeping young people from reading is lack of access to books: Studies show that more access means more reading, and studies also show that youngsters living in poverty have very little access to books; they live in neighborhoods with fewer bookstores and inferior public libraries, attend schools with poorly supported classroom and school libraries, and have far fewer reading material at home.
For most children of poverty, their only source of books is libraries. The best way to introduce children to the joys of reading Harry Potter and other wonderful books is to provide more support for libraries and librarians in high poverty areas.
Most young readers don’t need much encouragement to read Harry Potter. All they need is access.
J.K. Rowling launches Harry Potter book club online: http://www.courant.com/entertainment/sns-rt-us-books-harrypotter-bookclubbre86u18u-20120731,0,2069246.story