Term of Award

Spring 2003

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

William M. Reynolds

Committee Member 1

Mary Aswell Doll

Committee Member 2

Delores D. Liston

Committee Member 3

Dan Rea


This study explores possible links between author J. K. Rowling's content messages in the highly popular Harry Potter series and the identity formation of the child reader regarding issues of gender, race, and class. It also interrogates the role of the corporate publisher and the possible influence that the publisher has on both the book's content and the reading instructional approach presented to children in the classroom venue through the instructional guides produced specifically to accompany the books.

Textual analyses were performed on the four Harry Potter books and their accompanying instructional guides produced by Scholastic, Inc. Content of the four Potter book samples were analyzed for their representations of gender, race, and class and how those representations relate to the author's cultural, economical, and socio-political background. Finally, the four literature guides were critiqued to locate the publisher's reading instructional approach and how that approach may reify the author's messages.

The researcher concluded that blockbuster children's book content does influence a child reader's images of self and others when considering issues of gender, race, and class. Inspection of the instructional guides shows that they reinforce these embedded messages as they present a linear and simplistic methodology for the teaching of reading—an approach that accepts without question the content as it is presented by the author.

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