Harry Potter at Home and at the British Library Online

Last week I talked about some Audible learning resources –including “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by Stephen Fry in English, but also in many other languages–and how J.K. Rowling opened up copyright restrictions for teachers and parents to help teach kids at home. A couple more excellent resources have popped up.

First, in this CNN article, “Expelliarmus boredom!” (yes, terrible title I know), we find out that Rowling has launched “Harry Potter at Home” hub for kids in lockdown. CNN writes:

Harry Potter at Home” brings together a number of resources related to the international franchise, including free access to the audiobook version of the first installment in the series…. Other features of the hub include articles, puzzles and videos, made available by publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic.

“Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic,” Rowling said as she announced the launch.

“For over twenty years now, Hogwarts has been an escape for all — for readers and fans, young and old,” the website organizers added in a post introducing the platform. “During the strange times we now find ourselves in, we want to welcome you back to Hogwarts, where you will find a friendly retreat for you, your family and those you are caring for.”

For me, however, the big announcement is that the British Library exhibition, “Harry Potter: A History of Magic,” is now online. The British Library has brilliant exhibitions, and here they gather dozens of resources together for a full digital experience of how Harry Potter’s world came to be. In particular, exhibits worth paying attention include the artistry of Jim Kay (UK illustrator), weird and wonderful facts about magic in history, and various manuscripts and artifacts related to the Hogwarts curriculum. You can go online and take Herbology, Charms, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, or–if you dare–Snape’s Potions class or Defence Against the Dark Arts. The Alchemy class is particularly rich in manuscripts, and any interest in fantasy by Rowling or C.S. Lewis should attend to (classical and medieval) Astronomy.

To quote Ron Weasley: Brilliant.

A rich and beautiful resource for Harry Potter fans and curious readers everywhere.

Unfortunately, the full BBC documentary “A History of Magic” is not available to link through Youtube. It is quite beautifully done, and maybe you can find it in your region. Here is a little preview.

In “A History of Magic,” we are invited into J.K. Rowling’s process of creation in an intriguing way. Rather than merely hearing stories of her sketching characters and inventing ideas, we see Rowling flipping through the massive collection of magical materials within the library’s collection. While some will doubtless love this documentary for the ways that the Potter-world construct is related to folk magic–and I would hate to deny anyone that curiosity–for me it wasn’t just the connection of how much was made up by Rowling, and how much was adapted from the cultural canon of magic and folklore.

For me, it was a beautiful thing simply to watch Joanne Rowling walk among these old and ancient texts, scrolls, and artifacts. Her reactions are organic–a lover of books and ideas and old things, discovering the connections between Potter’s world and folk-magic, rather than merely explaining them. As she looks at the old illustrations and ancient texts, little bits of creation and legend simply flow out. Rowling’s curiosity and professionalism sit at the front of the documentary, and as someone very curious about the creation of fictional worlds, it was refreshing to watch.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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5 Responses to Harry Potter at Home and at the British Library Online

  1. john and ruth deyarmond says:

    “Harry Potter at Home” is for fans in ‘lockdown.’

    ________________________________ From: A Pilgrim in Narnia Sent: April 9, 2020 1:38 PM To: jrdeyarmond@hotmail.com Subject: [New post] Harry Potter at Home and at the British Library Online

    Brenton Dickieson posted: ” Last week I talked about some Audible learning resources –including “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by Stephen Fry in English, but also in many other languages–and how J.K. Rowling opened up copyright restrictions for teachers and parents” Respond to this post by replying above this line New post on A Pilgrim in Narnia [http://1.gravatar.com/blavatar/f168d36cc27f1ebee94b8287a05aeb52?s=32&d=http%3A%2F%2Fs0.wp.com%2Fi%2Femails%2Fblavatar.png] [http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/cb4766bdcbb5478dfc991ed0435c6483?s=50&d=identicon&r=PG] Harry Potter at Home and at the British Library Online by Brenton Dickieson

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    Last week I talked about some Audible learning resources –including “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by Stephen Fry in English, but also in many other languages–and how J.K. Rowling opened up copyright restrictions for teachers and parents to help teach kids at home. A couple more excellent resources have popped up.

    First,

    Like

  2. Speaking of astronomy and CS Lewis, that scene in Prince Caspian where Cornelius takes Caspian up on to the roof of the castle to view the conjunction of Tarvil and Alamba has always stayed with me. So beautiful.

    Like

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Yes! I’m just rereading Prince Caspian, not least with an eye to the astronomy, and find I had forgotten that (ch. 9) Lucy “had once known them [the bright Narnian stars] better than the stars of our own world”, rejoicing to see again “three of the summer constellations”, “the Ship, the Hammer, and the Leopard. ‘Dear old Leopard’, she murmured happily to herself.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  4. Pingback: Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable (Full Video) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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