By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
The Joliet Public Library on Black Road was jam packed with Wizards and Muggles on Feb. 2, as Harry Potter fans filed in for the kickoff of The Great Read.
It was all to celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter magic, as fans of the series turned the library into their own Hogwarts for a night of fun.
The Great Read started in 2004 as a panel discussion, but from there grew into a community reading program, sponsored by the Plainfield School District 202 and the public library districts that serve the school district.
Each year, The Great Read celebrates a theme or book.
This year, the theme was easy to pick, as the original Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, celebrates its 20th anniversary.
“This program celebrates and promotes literacy, reading, conversation, and community,” said Tom Hernandez, Director of Community Relations with Plainfield School District 202. “This is all about reading, all about literacy.”
Hernandez said that over the years, The Great Read has grown to include programming and events, including trivia contests, impersonators, discussions, and panels.
Hernandez said with the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter hitting this year, it was an easy choice to make the series this year’s theme.
“The cool thing about Harry Potter is, it’s not just a book or a collection of books. It is a world phenomenon,” Hernandez said, noting that the movie series has grossed $7.7 billion worldwide. “There are countries that don’t do $7.7 billion in gross national product.”
The Harry Potter series have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.
The month-long reading event features Harry Potter themed events at each of the participating libraries, all of which are free and open to the public. The ultimate goal – to get students and their families to crack open some books.
“The whole point is to encourage people to read. So, we do this as a way to entice people to have fun, and now go back and read a book,” Hernandez said.
Feb. 28 is the closing date for The Great Read, with a Hogwarts Magic Show and Art Contest at the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook.
Information on events throughout the month can be found online, at www.greatread.org.
The Great Read is a consortium between Plainfield School District 202, the Plainfield Public Library District, the Joliet Public Library District, Fountaindale Public Library, Shorewood-Troy Public Library, White Oak Library District, Lemont Public Library, and Joliet Junior College.
The Great Read is sponsored by the Plainfield Foundation for Excellence, Friends of the Plainfield Library, Plainfield Township, Barnes and Noble, and Voyager Media.