It was children whom Ms. Rowling â€” like her Fear Street precursor, but with considerably more skill â€” captivated first, demonstrating with the irrefutable logic of something like 10 bazillion books sold that kids are still perfectly willing to put aside their iPods and Game Boys and pick up a book…if the magic is there. That reading itself is magical is a thing I never doubted. I’d give a lot to know how many teenagers (and preteens) texted this message in the days following the last book’s release: DON’T CALL ME TODAY I’M READING.
The same thing probably happened with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, but unlike Stine, Rowling brought adults into the reading circle, making it much larger. This is hardly a unique phenomenon, although it seems to be one associated mainly with British authors (there was Huckleberry Finn, of course, a sequel to its YA little brother Tom Sawyer). Alice in Wonderland began as a story told to 10-year-old Alice Liddell by Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll); it is now taught in college lit courses. And Watership Down, Richard Adams’ version of The Odyssey (featuring rabbits instead of humans), began as a story told to amuse the author’s preteen daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, on a long car drive. As a book, though, it was marketed as an ”adult fantasy” and became an international best-seller.