First official Harry Potter book club is formed

Through the Harry Potter book club, J.K. Rowling will answer readers' questions via a classroom webcast.

On Oct. 11, 2012, J.K. Rowling will make a virtual tour of US classrooms via live webcast, the first opportunity for the author to answer readers’ questions live since the last "Harry Potter" book hit shelves in 2007.

Leave it to J.K. Rowling to dream up a way to make back-to-school season more exciting.

We’re betting gads of pint-size Potter fans will be lining up outside their classrooms on October 11, when Rowling will make a virtual tour of US classrooms via live webcast, the first opportunity for the author to answer readers’ questions live since her last book hit shelves in 2007. Through a Scholastic-organized webcast from the author’s home in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling will answer pre-submitted questions and discuss all things Potter, including the recently launched website, Pottermore.

The webcast is organized in conjunction with the first official Harry Potter Reading Club, an online portal geared toward educators, librarians, and parents, to encourage budding Potterphiles to read and to explore the world of Harry Potter. The site, which was launched with much less fanfare than Pottermore, appears to be geared toward younger readers.

Scholastic called it a destination for fans of Potter and a tool for parents and teachers to set up book clubs of their own.

“Scholastic has been in conversation with educators, librarians and other book lovers about ideas for bringing the Harry Potter books to new readers in exciting and different ways,” Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade, said in a statement announcing the club.

“The Harry Potter Reading Club is a direct response to that feedback and provides an entry point through which the thrill of these books can be shared with new generations of Harry Potter fans both within and beyond the classroom.”

Though it’s far more basic than Pottermore, the Harry Potter Reading Club comes with some excellent resources for parents and children alike including a guide to starting your own Harry Potter book club, reading and discussion guides, pronunciation aides, a glossary of Hogwarts-related terms, and a cauldron’s worth of interactive activities relating to each of the Harry Potter books. Activities available for this month include a creative writing exercise in which writers must imagine they received a letter from Hogwarts, a “create your own wand” download, and a search for missing Potter objects. Scholastic has said it will add new activities each month. Bookmarks, stickers, and nametags are also available for download on the site.

The Harry Potter Reading Club also features links to purchase print or digital books, to Pottermore.

Consider the Harry Potter Reading Club and Rowling’s upcoming webcast your key to surviving the last weeks of summer with young readers – and a reason to look forward to another school year.

Find out more about the webcast here.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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