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The Magic of Harry

J.K. Rowling’s series about the boy wizard Harry Potter broke publishing records and inspired passionate devotion in readers of all ages

Was there life before Harry? For millions of readers, that’s a hard thing to imagine—so intensely did the bespectacled boy with a lightning-bolt scar capture their hearts (and bookshelves). These days the Harry Potter series is considered a classic, but it was only in 1998 that he burst onto the scene when Scholastic published the U.S. edition of J.K. Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The series became an international phenomenon, breaking records across the world. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series, was issued in 2007, it reached a record-shattering 11.5 million copies in the U.S. alone in its first 10 days on sale. Muggles took to the streets to celebrate when Scholastic hosted Harry Potter Place, a magical, interactive street celebration for kids and adults at Scholastic headquarters in New York City. The event featured a Whomping Willow, a Deathly Hallows Gallery, a Countdown Clock, a Muggle Board, and even the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Knight Bus, a replica of the triple-decker bus from the series. Scholastic then escorted Rowling through a 3-city/40-school Open Book Tour across the U.S.

Harry Potter events continue to be marked in magical ways. In 2008 Scholastic celebrated the 10th anniversary of the release of the first book with a special anniversary edition and another fan event in New York, and soon after released The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a volume of five wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore in the seventh book. In 2010, The Real Magic of Harry Potter was launched, a campaign and sweepstakes designed specifically to welcome new readers into the world of Harry.