Celebrating 20 years of wizarding magic at the BPL

Claire Henderson, Nylah Young, Branson Malone and Zack Bock read books in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series in the children's library at the Bryan Public Library. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” was published 20 years ago June 26, 1997. The Bryan Public Library is having a celebration at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, in honor of the 20 year anniversary of the book's publication.
Staff Writer

From an idea born on a train journey to its creation in a small cafe in Edinburgh, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” started a global phenomenon. It has sold over 450 million copies worldwide in 79 languages, inspired a major movie franchise, a spellbinding theatre production and captivated readers of all ages for twenty years.

Libraries all over the world are celebrating this phenomenon that set the publishing world on fire and captured the imagination of both children and adults who were caught up in the epic story of "The Boy Who Lived."

"This June marks the 20-year anniversary of J.K. Rowling's “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” Dawn Richardson, children's librarian at the Bryan Public Library said. "The book is the first in the series of one of the most beloved books of our time."

She said the books have gained world-wide attention and has won multiple awards. The books have sold more than 400 million copies since publication. The Harry Potter books have become the best selling book series in history.

"To mark this momentous occasion," Richardson said. "We invite all Harry Potter fans to come and celebrate with us at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at the Bryan Public Library. We will be showing the movie version of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone’ on the large screen in the Esther Pippen Meeting Room. We'll be providing popcorn and candy for the full movie experience."

The library, however, does recommend the event for children ages 8 and up due to some of the frightening imagery in the film. It is not a film for small children as they may become overwhelmed and frightened.

Richardson said everyone was encouraged to come in costume and bring their wands. There will be a photo booth for those who wish to remember the event with pictures. Come in the finest wizarding robes, witches hats or wear a T-shirt with your favorite house represented. Gryffindor, Sytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, all are welcome.

"The Harry Potter series touched a generation," Valerie Hargrove, circulation librarian said. "The children who originally read these books are adults and they are introducing their children to this magical world."

Hargrove said the first book and movie are about an 11-year-old boy who learns that he is the orphan son of two powerful wizards and possesses magical traits of his own. He is invited to become a student at Hogwart''s

School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a boarding school in the United Kingdom. There he meets two friends who will be the closest thing to family in his life.

They aid him in his search for the reason behind his parents mysterious deaths.

"The series is a coming of age fantasy," Hargrove said. "The adventure filled story appeals to both children and adults. We invite everyone, and we mean everyone, whether you are age 8 to 78 to come and celebrate 20 years of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” with us at the library.”

The official publishing anniversary of the book is June 26, when it hit shelves for the first time in 1997. Now, first editions of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” can sell anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 depending on whether they have an authenticated signature and the condition.

"There are celebrations going on all over the world," Richardson said, "Including one exhibit at the British Library in London. The books have spawned 8 films that grossed 8.5 billion dollars. First editions
of the book are considered the Holy Grail of Harry Potter collectibles. There were 500 copies printed originally, with 300 going to public libraries."

Come celebrate 20 years of wizarding magic at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Bryan Public Library.