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Wizarding Walk welcomes witches and wizards to the magical world of reading

Molly Archer, Staff Writer

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On Nov. 7, all witches and wizards of Oxford were invited to join in the first-ever Wizarding Walk at Avent Park, an event sponsored by the Lafayette County-Oxford-University Reads Coalition, the Lafayette County Literacy Council and other local organizations.

Children and their parents were able to take a trip to Hogwarts, where each organization created an activity based around the Harry Potter books for kids to participate in, from picking out a wand in Diagon Alley, to playing a game of Quidditch.

“People just love and respond to Harry Potter, from the groups that participated all the way to the people that came to enjoy the actual activities,” said Meghan Gallagher, a member of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

The Harry Potter books have remained a favorite of all ages ever since the first novel in the series was published in 1997. The story follows the life of an orphaned child, Harry, and his adventures in the wizarding world with his two best friends as they go through school at Hogwarts, while fighting against the evil Lord Voldemort.

“I have been with Harry (Potter) since it came out,” said Kayleigh Graham, the member of the Arts Council in charge of sorting children into their Hogwarts houses.

The Harry Potter series has been credited with encouraging young people to read. However, more needs to be done to promote reading. The number of people who do not read regularly has tripled since 1978, according to a poll done by Gallup. The goal of the Wizarding Walk event was to introduce the magic of reading to youngsters to reduce these statistics.

“The mission is to promote grade-level reading from pre-k all the way up to third grade when they take the reading gate test,” Gallagher said.

The Mississippi Department of Education reports that the Third Grade Reading Summative Assessment, also known as the reading gate test, is a fundamental reading test that determines the minimum competency level in reading of third graders in Mississippi.

The Wizarding Walk was also meant to bring a popular book to life. The Humane Society brought dogs, a rat and a rabbit to the walk to recreate the Care of Magical Creatures class from the novel.

“We didn’t really know what to expect either, as far as how many animals to bring for the Care of Magical Animals. Next year, we will bring more animals because it really was a great turnout,” Jenn Peterman from the Humane Society said. “It was great to get the kids hands-on with all of the animals.”

The kids were able to bring their imagination to life at the Wizarding Walk and experience the wizarding world for themselves at each creative station.

“It’s okay to have an imagination and let a world come to life. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Lord of the Ringsor ‘Doctor Who.’ I think it inspires kids to be creative and play, and that’s what’s important,” Graham said.

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Wizarding Walk welcomes witches and wizards to the magical world of reading