Values: Friendship, Love, Determination and Courage.
There isn't a teacher or parent in the land who hasn't heard of Harry Potter, or got their own thoughts about whether this is a book for primary school aged children. If you know me, you know I love Harry Potter and have done since my dad read the first book to me and my brother as a bedtime story when I was in Year 5. It was shortly after it was first published and my dad had heard it being discussed on the radio.
I haven't actually read the novel to any of my classes - not because I think it is inappropriate - but because so many of the children had already read them independently or with their families. I have used extracts though as a way of teaching English and also PSHCE. Despite the dark themes, I think there are so many positive Values that can be seen through the story.
One of the main Values Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone shows is friendship. The bond between Harry, Ron and Hermione that grows throughout their first year at Hogwarts ultimately leads them to risking their own lives in a dangerous quest whilst trying to get the philosopher's stone. They have their disagreements like any friends (and this is important to point out to children too) but they look out for each other and they show compassion when needed.
Another key theme is love. Harry Potter loses his parents when he is a baby and is raised by an aunt and uncle who very much show favouritism to their own son over Harry. When Harry starts Hogwarts and has the care of staff who genuinely look out for him, including Hagrid and Dumbledore, we see how love can enable a person to flourish. Similarly, we learn of the love that meant Harry's parents died in order to save him. Harry's love for his parents lead him to showing immense determination to prevent Voldemort from getting the philosopher's stone. There are interesting discussions to be had around parental love and where we see this displayed differently in many children's stories.
One Value we can consistently see in the first Harry Potter book is courage. We see Harry, Ron and Hermione all show courage when facing danger at the end of the book. We also see Neville standing up to his friends, prompting a well-known quote from Dumbledore: "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." I have discussed and unpicked this quote in a circle time with a class of Year 6s and we had an interesting debate about why people may stand up to their friends and whether this means you are a good friend or not. I urge you to have the same conversation with Key Stage 2 children.
These are just a couple of the Values that you can delve into when looking at Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with children. You don't need to use the whole book - a paragraph or page can be sufficient to create a powerful lesson.
You can find this book in any bookshop and I encourage you to source it from independent bookshops. You can also access the audio book and e-book copies.
I love pottering around little bookshops. Here is a map of 112 independent bookshops in London. I guarantee they will stock Harry Potter!
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