Classic Tales of Wizardry

J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard is released, and an original copy of the book goes on display.

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Fans of the Harry Potter series will know about "The Tale of the Three Brothers." It played an important part of the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But "The Tale of the Three Brothers" is just one story that makes up an important book in the Potter universe.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, released December 4, 2008, is a volume of five stories that were "written for young wizards and witches," according to Potter creator J. K. Rowling. Thanks to a new translation from Hermione Granger, readers in the Muggle world can now experience the tales too. In reality, Rowling wrote the stories in Beedle the Bard. But before it was ever considered for publication, the book was given to her close friends as a thank-you gift.

Rowling created seven handwritten and illustrated copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Each copy also had a unique gemstone on its cover. She gave six of the copies to people she loved dearly. The seventh copy was auctioned to benefit the Children's High Level Group, a charity co-founded by Rowling. bought the copy for $4 million; it has a moonstone on its cover.

One of the original copies of Beedle the Bard was given to Arthur A. Levine, Rowling's co-editor at Scholastic. In honor of the public release of the book, Levine lent his copy to the New York Public Library. It was on display at the New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Studies Library until January 4, 2009. On December 3, 2008, Levine and Dr. Paul LeClerc, the President of the New York Public Library, gave brief speeches before they unveiled this handcrafted book. When one of the members of the press asked Levine which gemstone was on the cover of his copy of Beedle the Bard and why, he said tourmaline, which is his son's birthstone. That's no coincidence.

"J. K. Rowling is one of those people who remembers these things," said Levine. He added that if you tell her that you like relish on your hot dog, 19 years later, when you buy a hot dog with her, she will remember that you like the one with the relish.

After the unveiling of the book, I interviewed Dr. LeClerc, who told me about the new children's room at the library. He said many more children are coming to the New York Public Library due to the new children's room. It was previously located in another branch of the New York Public Library. He also said that books in the Harry Potter series have been checked out frequently, in anticipation of the release of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

I went to see the new children's room, where I met John Peters, the supervising librarian. I wondered what Harry Potter has meant for children's books.

"The Harry Potter novels are a big hit," Peters told me. "Harry Potter was a revolution because prior to this series, kids had picture books but no long novels like this. It turned millions of people into readers — not just kids but adults, too."

kid reporter at unveiling of beedle the bard original copy

Left: Kid Reporter Shoshana Mintz in front of one of the seven original copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, unveiled at the New York Public Library. (Photo: Jennifer Boggs)











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