Potter power

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Whether it's mystery novels, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, popular series, comic books - La-Joya Bush, 14, a freshman at Academy of Richmond County, says one of the best things to do is pick up a book.

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Photo illustration  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Photo illustration

"I enjoy reading," she said. "I don't even know how it started. I went to C.T. Walker (Traditional Magnet School) and we had to read a book every night and do a report on it."

Although the book reports have ended, the habit stuck.

La-Joya said she reads regularly, and it's not just what her teachers require.

"Honestly, I guess it's kind of hard for me to read what I have to read, but I like to read for enjoyment."

That would be music to the ears of Gabrielle Miller, the vice president for literacy and education programs with the Reading Is Fundamental initiative. Her organization's goal is to get young people reading for more than just class.

"Our mission is bringing the joy of reading to children of all ages. We want to get young people excited about reading.

Excitement won't be too hard to muster Saturday, with the release of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Millions of teens (and their moms, dads and siblings) are anticipating the best-selling book's release just after midnight Friday night.

Rachael Carroll, 16, a junior at Lakeside High School, is one of the ones who can't wait.

"I'm the most excited person ever," she said minutes before leaving to see the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the second time since its July 11 release. "You won't find another person more excited than me about it."

She means that, too.

"I have a countdown on my MySpace and my AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). I have books on the theories about what's going to happen. I have this podcast and it's called Harry Potter Prognosticators, where people just talk about their theories on what's going to happen," she said. "I'm going to die from excitement and I'm probably going to cry when I get it."

The girl who got hooked on the series when her fourth-grade teacher read the first installment, The Sorcerer's Stone, aloud to her class, will definitely read it.

The phenomenon

When it comes to young people and reading, those in the know point to the series as bringing kids back to books.

"Certainly, what you often hear (about the) Harry Potter phenomenon is the fact that the story is so compelling," Ms. Miller said. "It gets readers very quickly engaged."

Although that doesn't mean other books aren't popular for teens, the facts seem to bear the hype out.

In a 2006 survey by Scholastic, the publishing house for the Harry Potter series, 51 percent of Potter readers said they never read for fun before they started the series.

Now that the series is done, many in the reading community aren't expecting that interest in books to just disappear. The hope is that children will find other books to enjoy.

"I'm excited for the book but also really sad because it's over," Rachael said. "There's going to be no more Harry Potter. The magic is going to end."

Her reading won't, however.

"Like I said, I'm probably going to cry when its over, but I have a list of things I plan to read like Pride and Prejudice and stuff like that, so I'll definitely keep reading things."

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.

Potter primer

Want to know what all the hype is about? Here's a listing of the Harry Potter series.

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Party time

Midnight magic costume party: 9 p.m. Friday, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1336 Augusta West Parkway; (706) 860-2310.

Grand hallows ball: About 9 p.m., Borders, 257 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway; dress in ball attire or as your favorite character for a costume contest; (706) 737-6962.


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