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Home > Reading Comprehension > book reviews > Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Book Review:HarryPotter and the Sorceror's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Unless you've been on another planet, you've heard about the Harry Potter and... series. The books are wildly popular among children and adults, and fortunately they're also good books.

Title & Author:Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, 1997.

Length: Approx. 309 pages; definitely a long book but anecdotal enough so that if it takes some time to read, it will still make sense.

Print size: Fairly small. This book could certainly intimidate a struggling reader; I would recommend it best as a read-aloud or read-along.

Other readability issues: The fantasy elements of this book require learning a substantial vocabulary (Quidditch and Muggles, for starters), so it would be a good idea to maintain a reference list. The concept of boarding schools may also need to be explored, but most other cultural issues are familiar on both sides of the Atlantic (subways, snobbery, sibling rivalry,etc.). The character Hagrid has a fairly thick dialect that may need translation ("I'd not say no to summat stronger if yeh've got it, mind.")

The storyline is straightforward, and focuses primarily on Harry Potter. This would be an excellent book for teaching foreshadowing and inferences, since there are many straightforward examples of events that raise questions, which can be partially answered from what the reader knows.For example, the book begins with something like a prologue where many owls are seen flying by day. Later, the reader discovers that owls are the messengers of the wizards. The connection is not explicitly made; it's exactly the kind of connection that is intuitive for most readers. With guided questioning, the reader who struggles with inferences and conclusions can see the relationships between the events. There are many opportunities for the reader to ask questions or to make predictions about future events. It's also enlightening to re-read early sections when the reader knows more about who the characters are.
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone would also be a good vehicle for learning to write about literature. Exercises in finding quotes and actions to support what the reader thinks of a character abound. I only hope English teachers don't take it upon themselves to render a good story boring by assigning countless writing exercises based upon it! Names and spells use word parts with meaning, so students can learn about the derivations of names such as Voldemort (see the vocabulary exercises elsewhere on the site).

Summary: Harry Potter has been living a miserable life, adopted grudgingly by his uncle and aunt at a young age. He discovers he is really a wizard -- but then, so is an entire society of people -- and of singular fame because he survived the attack of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and has many adventures as a "First Year" student there, including a search for the Sorceror's Stone.

Typical words: The wizard society has its own vocabulary, but it's fairly concrete. Quidditch is a game, Muggles are 'normal' people, etc. Some other typical words are listed here - you may want to see how many of these words your students can identify before expecting them to read independently.


























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