Harry Potter VS. Harry Potter

So as you may know, I’m a high school English teacher.  I’m currently teaching an amazing class called Modern Fiction in which (mostly) seniors get to read novels of their own choosing throughout the semester.  It is a beautiful course because I get to witness firsthand young adults falling in love with reading again.

Interestingly enough, when I finally decided to read the Harry Potter series last spring, I noticed that most of my high school seniors had not read them.  This shocked me, because even five years ago virtually every student I talked with had read part—if not all—of the series if not all.

When I asked my seniors both last year and this year why they hadn’t read the books, they told me they’d seen the movies, they didn’t need to read the books.

Honestly, I really couldn’t get upset by that statement because I’m guilty of it myself in regards to Lord of the Rings.  I saw the movies before I tried to read the books, and I consequently couldn’t get into them.  I think it’s because I already knew the “big beats” and felt impatient to read other books.

Ironically, I finally decided to read the Harry Potter series out of respect to JK Rowling, for she influenced a generation of young people and contributed to their love of literature and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.  Now, though, it seems as though that influence has drifted away due to the movies, and while it’s too bad, it’s understandable.

What do you think?  While we all agree that the books are generally better than the film adaptations, does seeing the movie before reading the book lessen your likelihood to check out the source material?