It’s “Pott”-y time! Harry Potter’s magical hold on readers turns 20

1:00 p.m Friday, June 23, 2017 Atlanta Life
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In this 2007 photo, Harry Potter fans cheered as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was unveiled at the Barnes & Noble Buckhead in Atlanta. The celebrations are starting up again as the book series turns 20. 

It’s enough to make a Muggle feel downright ancient.

(Or maybe just young all over again?)

On Monday, Harry Potter turns — gulp — 20.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author J.K. Rowling’s global empire of books, movies, theme park attractions and a hit play that’s Broadway bound started out 20 years ago with the publication of the first Harry Potter book. Only 500 copies were printed. EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP

It was two decades ago — June 26, 1997 — when first-time novelist J.K. Rowling’s little book about the orphaned boy who’d grow up to become the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) wizard was published in England. That’s when a few (really) readers got their first glimpse into the fantastical world of Hogwarts and Hagrid and Death Eaters and Dobby the House Elf.

No one suspected then that “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” would launch a seven-book, eight-movie, one hit play and several theme parks phenomenon that would culminate in (spoiler alert!) the evil Voldemort’s demise. And arguably revive reading, considering over 450 million “Potter” books have been sold in 79 different languages to date.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The cover of the first Harry Potter book, which came out in the U.S. in September 1998. CONTRIBUTED BY SCHOLASTIC

Indeed, the book wouldn’t even be published here for over a year. Scholastic released it with a slightly altered title, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” in September 1998. Some 160 million sold books later, Scholastic is gearing up to celebrate that anniversary in a big way next year.

7 Things You Didn't Know About the Harry Potter Book Series

But its “Pott”-y time right now in the U.K. and even a few parts of the U.S., like Cobb County. Here’s a “Happy Harry-day” guide to it all (with apologies to Rowling for our mangling of some of her books’ titles):

Fantastic Celebrations and Where to Find Them

Meanwhile, it’s “Harry Potter Week” at Switzer Library in Marietta. From June 23-30 (library closed Sunday), the main Cobb branch hosts all-day (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) activities, including wand making, “sorting” and photo ops. On Saturday (June 24), there’s a “come dressed in your Hogwarts finest” screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The big day, Monday, culminates in Harry Potter-themed games starting at 5 p.m. Also, you can catch the last session of “Hogwarts: A Summer Semester,” featuring a Harry Potter read-aloud and crafts, from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday. 266 Roswell St., Marietta. 770-528-2320, www.cobbcat.org.

Check out these upcoming events for more ways to say “Hurray for Harry!”

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
They don’t look a day over 11! Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) in 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first film in the franchise. (Contributed by Warner Bros. Pictures)
View full experience