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.