The end of Harry Potter, feared and anticipated, is finally here. The series has set records with each additional book, selling record breaking millions within hours of their releases and generating a following of fans comparable to that of Tolkien's
"The Lord of the Rings." With the last book in the series released, The praises for the books range from comments on the creative work behind the book to its power to get kids (and adults) who don't like to read to pay attention to it. Beverley Spitzer, children's librarian at the Burke branch library, said that Potter has served as a gateway for people who thought they didn't like to read.
"It's a bridge to them – then they reach out and eventually read everything they can get their hands on," Spitzer said. "I think it has something for everyone. It's got the school life and adventure, fantasy, and sports with the Quidditch. There are so many characters that's there's someone that everyone can relate to."
These are the reasons that the series will be such a hard act to follow.
"Can you think of another book in the past that's done this?" said Dinah Paul at A Likely Story children's bookstore. "I don't know that there will ever be something like Harry Potter again – which is good and bad."
"There's nothing that's been fleshed out as well as Harry Potter was," Paul said. "She created great worlds for the kids to escape in – I might put myself in that category of kids - It's one of the weird things – you really feel like there might be that world just beyond ours that has all that magic."
Where will readers turn next is the biggest question, and it's all speculation, Spitzer said.
"They're trying to determine what's going to be the next craze," she said. "There's one about a kid who's an archeologist. More of a buzz than anything. You can't really tell what people will read because people will read what they want to read."
REGARDLESS OF whether it's something new or old, readers will have to start looking for something new to fill their reading appetite, said Michelle Miller, library assistant at Beatley Central in Alexandria.
"Since they're in the habit of reading something now they're going to have to read something else," Miller said. "There's going to be a void there where Harry Potter was and they're going to want to fill it."
The void isn't only there for kids though – it's there for their families. One of the most important aspects of the series is that adults and children alike read it together, Spitzer said.
"I think it's also a good thing to bring parents into things their kids are reading," she said. "Instead of just handing a book to their kids, they're reading it together. It gets the parents into the habit of discussing the books with their kids – I think that's really helpful for reading comprehension."
The end of Harry Potter doesn't mean the end of fantasy or the end of young readers wanting to read books; but it does come with mixed feelings, said Dinah Paul.
"I have a little baby and I'm glad I can take a picture of her on the night of the [book release] because I don't know if in my lifetime there will be another book like this," she said.