If you’re like me and Harry Potter was your childhood, you will recall that July 31st was the birthday of Harry himself, and also of his creator J.K. Rowling. In honor of their births, I saw a slew of nostalgic and laudatory articles about how they changed the world as we knew it. But the best one was “Here’s the Real Magic that Comes From Reading Harry Potter” in the Huffington Post, which highlighted a psychology study endorsing the finding that reading the Harry Potter books curbed intolerance. Apparently both elementary and high school students surveyed displayed less bigoted attitudes towards gays and immigrants after reading excepts from the series.
Of course, the study is quite limited and it’s hard to analyze in retrospect, but perhaps books like these are partially responsible for the liberalization of the millennial generation. The author herself certainly hoped that her works would pass along those values to young readers and certainly books have often been used to teach valuable moral lessons, from the Bible to Aesop’s Fables. Fixing intolerant attitudes will take more than a wave of a wand but this article is a good reminder of the power of words.