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Harry Potter Book Night takes place today as J.K Rowling's series continues to enjoy some big anniversaries



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New book releases and commemorative covers will mark some big Harry Potter anniversaries this year - but not before one of the biggest events in the Hogwarts calendar takes place tonight.

The eighth annual Harry Potter Book Night is this evening - encouraging wizards, witches and muggles worldwide to fly broomstick first back into the popular series for a night of literary magic.

It's a big year for fans of the J.K Rowling series, which is celebrating both the 25th anniversary of the release of the book that kick started it all off - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - while also continuing to enjoy 20th anniversary celebrations for the first film that followed.

Harry Potter's books and films celebrate some big anniversaries this year
Harry Potter's books and films celebrate some big anniversaries this year

And while this is only the eighth book night - Potter fans are well known for the enthusiasm with which they celebrate the annual event.

Launched by publishers Bloomsbury to commemorate the seven-book series, previous years have seen bookshops worldwide open throughout the night as readings, magic tricks and some impressive fancy dress costumes have seen stories about the boy wizard brought to life in spectacular form.

And while Covid-19 has seen many Potter-themed parties adopt a virtual setting, organisers have gone to great lengths to ensure the evening remains a firm focus for followers of the adventures of Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Since the pandemic many events have turned to the virtual world
Since the pandemic many events have turned to the virtual world

How to take part...

The chosen theme for this year's book night is Magical Journeys - in a nod to the number of magical journeys the stories have taken millions of people on since the first book was published on June 26, 1997.

To encourage as many schools, libraries, colleges and households to join in this year with their own events - a downloadable event pack has been produced by Bloomsbury with suggestions of games, crafts and other bewitching activities.

A virtual map - in which class teachers, parents, and book sellers worldwide can share how they are celebrating tonight - or at some point this week - has also been created online to spread the magic as far and wide as possible.

A number of schools are expected to hold their own events this year
A number of schools are expected to hold their own events this year

Twinkl - the educational resources website that proved to be a lifeline to families home schooling during the pandemic - has also produced a number of free downloads where youngsters can enjoy activities from Hogwarts letter writing to quizzes.

And today will also see The National Literacy Trust launch its own event to coincide with celebrations - a Harry Potter themed reading challenge called Miles of Magic which will encourage students to set out from Privet Drive and read regularly for seven weeks on a virtual journey to Hogwarts.

It is being launched today by Potter illustrator Jonny Duddle who is also leading a webinar for schools that will include a special draw-along for pupils keen to master their illustrations of character Hagrid.

The original illustration on the first edition is set to be recreated later this year
The original illustration on the first edition is set to be recreated later this year

Get your hands on a magical book cover

Two limited editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone will find their way onto bookshelves this year to celebrate the novel's 25th anniversary.

The updated paperback was released in January featuring new cover illustrations by Duddle, and in June a commemorative hardback edition featuring the original 1997 cover image of the Hogwarts Express is set for release.

National Storytelling Week takes place until February 5
National Storytelling Week takes place until February 5

Storytelling tips for parents

Telling and reading stories on the move, making up tales, using props and telling tales 'off the cuff' are among the tips being shared with parents dipping into books during this week's National Storytelling Week.

The week-long celebration, running until Saturday and in the same week as Harry Potter Book Night, aims to showcase what a fun and fulfilling experience reading, writing and sharing stories can be.

Former primary school teacher Becky Cranham, founder of PlanBee, the school resources and lesson plan site, has some advice on how to make storytelling a rich experience.

She explains: "Storytelling is an in-built human trait and one that has existed since humans first roamed the Earth. Being able to tell your children stories is not only a great bonding experience but also a fantastic way to develop their early literacy and emotional skills."

Using your voice to change tone or to convey different emotions, adapting it for different characters, stopping to ask a child questions and adding their name as characters in traditional stories are also all tips for drawing small children into a story and getting them to engage and follow a plot.

Tips for parents include reading and storytelling on the move and stopping to ask children questions
Tips for parents include reading and storytelling on the move and stopping to ask children questions

And Becky is keen to show families, stories can be told anywhere.

She added: "Storytime does not have to be reserved for the ten minutes before bed. Get into the habit of telling a story on the way to school, waiting in the dentist’s office, while you’re eating dinner. The more you incorporate storytelling into your children’s daily lives, the more beneficial it will be.

"A quick story can be as simple as picking out someone from the crowd and telling your children all the fantastical things they did they day, or spotting a caterpillar and telling the story of how it will soon become a beautiful butterfly. You don’t need to make time for those grand, sweeping epics every day (although I would recommend them once in a while) – a good tall tale or quick five minute yarn will work just as well."

To read more about Harry Potter Book Night and taking part in events this week click here.



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