Dozens of young muggles flocked to the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library Thursday for the chance to be witches and wizards for a day during this year’s Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells.
Hosted internationally for the second year by Bloomsbury Publishing, the event was celebrated with 12,600 parties around the world, according to the company’s website.
In Soldotna, kids enjoyed Harry Potter trivia, magic-themed crafts and more before a showing of the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” all the while munching on pumpkin pasties and cauldron cakes prepared by Odie’s Deli.
The library also provided several donated copies of Harry Potter books, most of which were gone within minutes of the event starting.
“Our basement was damaged in the quake, but we were able to get down there and rescue the Harry Potter books,” said KJ Hillgren, director of youth services.
Hillgren said the event is meant to promote literacy as well as fun and involvement.
“First and foremost it’s to have fun, and we do want to promote literacy all the time,” Hillgren said. “I think people hear literacy and they think you have to be sitting down and phonetically sounding out words, but (it can be) coloring, activities, hanging out with kids you don’t know and kids who aren’t your age, and people of all different abilities.”
The Kenai Community Library also joined the fun and hosted a Harry Potter Book Night of its own, though Hillgren said the two did not coordinate.
She and other staff were dressed as professors from the books, while children came sporting their best robes and wands.
Crysania Taylor, of Kenai, handmade robes and scarves depicting the house colors, a detail from the books, for her two children, 3-year-old Temperance and 5-year-old Westley, before the celebration.
“Their dad and I love the movies,” Taylor said. “I actually just made their robes two days ago… and then the scarves we made last night, so we thought it would be fun to be dressed up.”
Soldotna resident Mariah Ross and her daughter, 6-year-old Adelynn, took advantage of a makeshift cupboard under the stairs, meant to represent one the books’ main character lives in for a time, to sneak away for a private reading session.
“I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books since I was in my mid twenties,” Ross said. “We just started reading “(Harry Potter and) the Sorcerer’s Stone” with (Adelynn) about a month ago, so it was just kind of perfect timing.”
“And we’re, like, over halfway (done),” Adelynn Ross added.
As with all the library’s youth programming, Hillgren said Harry Potter Book Night is meant in part to show local children where another one of their resources are in the community.
“I want kids to know when they’re young that the library is a safe and fun place so that as they get older, they know they can always come here,” Hillgren said. “It’s a safe place to be silly, and it’s just a safe place in general.”
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.