Harry Potter retains his magic with younger set

Most popular individual title is "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," according to statewide survey

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

For the third year in a row, Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling were the favorite book series and author among young readers in Juneau and Alaska, according to a survey across the state.

Conducted by the Alaska State Literacy Association from Feb. 9 to March 12, the third annual Alaska Reads online survey found that student interests were more widely distributed this year than in the last two surveys.

About 1,200 student and 336 adult entries were received.

Children and adults were invited to log onto the ASLA Web site, www.alaskaliteracy.org, click on the Alaska Reads tab, and register the title and author of the book they were reading.

Pre-school through adult readers from 32 Alaska communities participated, with Juneau residents logging on more often (457 times) than other communities. Nome, Anchorage, and Kodiak also were among the most active communities in the survey.

A Harry Potter book was named by 58 (the same number as last year) of the younger readers polled as the book they were reading. The most popular individual title was "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

"It's a huge book, so we were curious whether the kids in Alaska were picking it up as readily," said Ted Wilson, principal at Glacier Valley Elementary School and organizer of the Alaska Reads poll. "But it looks like they are."

The latest book in the Harry Potter series is 870 pages, compared to the first book's 309 pages.

Elementary-aged readers also named "Captain Underpants" (series, Dav Pilke), "Frog and Toad" (series, Lobel), "Junie B. Jones" (series, Barbara Park), and "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (series, Lemony Snicket) as their favorite titles this year.

Middle and high school readers named "The Lord of the Rings" books (J.R.R. Tolkien) as their favorites. Adults selected "The Da Vinci Code" (Dan Brown) as their favorite title.

When it came to popular writers, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was a favorite for the third consecutive year, with her five titles earning 58 mentions in the survey. J.R.R. Tolkien was a favorite among middle and high school students, while Dr. Seuss, author of "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," was a favorite of the state's youngest readers.

Intermediate and middle school readers also liked the many books written by Gary Paulsen, including "Hatchet and Dogsong." Adult readers reported that they were reading books by Dan Brown and Michael Crichton.

Notable entries in the survey this year were old favorites, including R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps," S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders," and Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series of books. Popular writers such as Jerry Spinelli, Louis Sachar, Karen Hesse, C.S. Lewis, and E.B. White were mentioned by respondents across the state.

The Alaska State Literacy Association is a nonprofit group dedicated to literacy issues concerning all Alaskans, particularly children. Its statewide membership includes librarians, teachers, principals and community members. The Juneau Reading Council is an ASLA local affiliate of about 70 members.

For more information on the ASLA or Juneau Reading Council, contact Ted Wilson at wilsont@jsd.k12.ak.us or (907) 463-1801.

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