I have seen a bit of the first Harry Potter film one Christmas and it didn't seem that bad in an easy-to-watch-slumped-on-the-sofa-with-the-family-at-Christmas kind of way, but I have never read any of the books. It might partly be snobbery - there are so many books out there that I should have read that I don't have time to spare reading kids books. But mainly, its that I have no interest in wizards.
But I don't really care that other adults read them. I'm not one of those people who think that anyone over 14 caught reading a HP book should be sentenced to ten years hard labour and a crash course in Dostoevsky. Its good in this digital age to see that people can still be excited by books. Its just not for me.
I'm not even going to pass judgement on those people who camped out over night to be the first to buy it or the American girl I heard on the news who was on holiday for the weekend in London but said she'd be sitting in her hotel to read the book as it was more important. That's their choice - it wouldn't be mine.
But now we come to my problem with this.
I read yesterday that ChildLine is concerned about their switchboards being jammed with children unable to cope with end of Harry Potter. ChildLine provides an invaluable service for children who are being abused or bullied or feel they can't talk to anyone they know about their feelings, and I'm certain I read recently that the service was under threat due to underfunding. It will be a disgrace if their time and resources are wasted on kids upset over the end of book, if the lines are blocked dealing with calls about this so that a child who is in need of real help can't get through.
I'm sure many children will be genuinely upset if their favourite spell-caster is bumped off at the end (or falls nobly on his own wand), but surely this is something that their parents should be able to console them over? And if they really fear it is going to have this effect on them, why on earth let them read it in the first place? But I suspect in many cases it will be the parents encouraging this over-the-top response (like that woman who claimed her 4 year old had depression because she didn't get in their choice of school who was blatently using her child's feelings to gain attention for herself because really 4 year olds move on pretty quickly when it comes to friends). I think this will be an occassion for great one-upmanship at middleclass dinner parties and school gates, parents competing to see whose little darling was most upset - rather than distracting them with a Playstation and a bag of sweets, which for once does seem like a good option.