Book Review, Lesson Material

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

As a kid, I have devoured the Harry Potter books. Not only have I read them all in English, but also in my mother tongue, Dutch. Ever since my year 5 teacher read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to us, I was a fan. I can see myself using the Harry Potter books in my classroom for an introduction to character analysis through the SAAO method. 

SAAO (Speech, Appearance, Actions and Others (what do others say about the character)) is a simple way to analyse characters. This guideline can easily be scaffolded so that character analysis in year seven is easy to approach. The good thing about the Harry Potter books is that there are so many additional resources you can draw from. For my assignment at the University of Western Australia, I created three sequential lesson plans for the first book.

In the first lesson, I focused mainly on the appearance of characters. I created the content which makes students compare the description of the characters to the actors in the film. In the second lesson, the focus starts at appearance and then moves to speech, others and actions. In our final class, students need to choose a character of their own choice for a final analysis. Harry Potter (1) - Miss Bos.jpg

As I stated before, Harry Potter is great due to the additional resources. Students with low literacy will be able to listen to the audiobook while reading along and watch the movie to keep up with the story in case they are falling behind. For their own character analysis, students can use the Pottermore website for extra background information on the characters. It is not the most user-friendly website, but once you understand how to use it, the options for characters are endless. As a teacher, you can also use these resources in the classroom. Instead of having your students read the book in class, you can listen to the audiobook or watch a scene from the movie.

The last reason to use the first book of the series is idealistic. Just like my year 5 teacher inspired me to read the books, I hope some of my students will be thrilled to read the other 6 books after going through the first one.

Even though you could use any of the Harry Potter books, I do feel that book 1 and 2 would be the best books to use in class. The movies directed by Chris Columbus do follow the books very closely and are a good support to the books, whereas the following movies have moved away from the books a bit more. Additionally, books 3 – 7 are more complicated to read and students in year 7 would be less likely to relate to the characters due to the age gap.

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