The fandom that lived: Students weigh in on why ‘Harry Potter’ has remained popular

Katie Harrison, then-sophomore in secondary education, takes a picture on Hannah Abell, then-sophomore in elementary education, with the Sorting Hat on her head at the 2013 Harry Potter Feast in Hale Library. (Archive photo)

For 23 years, J.K. Rowling’s story about Harry Potter, the young wizard who survived a deadly curse, and his fight against darkness took the world by storm through seven books and eight movie adaptations, birthing spin-off books, a theme park and a play.

For a lot of young people around the same age as the franchise itself, “Harry Potter” was one of the first book series they ever read. Lavanya Kumar, freshman in economics, found it hard to stop when she started reading them.

Illustration by Abigail Compton

“I think the books were really interesting and that was when I first got into reading,” Kumar said. “And once I started reading, I wanted to read as many books as I could.”

A large portion of the series revolves around the friendship among the three protagonists: Harry, Ron and Hermione.

“I think the whole friendship part was what I really liked about books and the movies,” Kumar said. “When I first read it, that was all I could talk about.”

Another theme in the book series is love: romantic love, love between friends and love between parent and child.

As the series nears its end, more characters are introduced and the story gets more complex. Darby Schneider, freshman in architecture, said it was easy to keep up with the series despite its complexity.

“I liked the storyline, how a lot of it was connected,” Schneider said, “and how it kept growing and how it got complicated but still was really easy to get a handle on.”

Ann Barker, freshman in music education, said one of the reasons “Harry Potter” is so beloved is because people can see themselves in it.

“There are a lot of things people can identify with that kind of escapism, like wanting to go to your own school,” Barker said. “Also, there is a wide variety of characters that people can find themselves in.”