This month the Children’s Department is celebrating a special anniversary of the publication of the Harry Potter series. Did you know that the first book was published in the UK in 1997? Arthur Levine (for Scholastic) purchased the manuscript at auction for 6 figures, which was considered A LOT at the time.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in the United States in September 1998 and the rest is… (an incredibly lucrative) history.

Much has been written about the 7-book series in the last 25 years. Here are Harry Potter “facts” taken from a 20th anniversary Scholastic publication.

• Before the title of book 1 in the series was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S. (published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.), one of the suggested titles was “Harry Potter and the School of Magic.”

• Each Harry Potter book broke sales records set by the previous book starting with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, published on July 16, 2005, sold 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.

• Mary GrandPré, the illustrator of the original Harry Potter hardcover novels in the U.S., almost turned down the opportunity to illustrate Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because her schedule was too busy.

• More than 500 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold worldwide; more than 180 million copies have sold in the U.S. alone.

• If all the Harry Potter books ever sold were placed end to end, they would go around the equator over 16 times.

I love how they attempt to make the idea of 500 million copies more concrete by having us envision books circling the equator, an imaginary horizontal line around the Earth! 500 million is a lot of books (and revenue for Scholastic and J.K. Rowling), however you picture it.

In honor of 25 years of Harry, Ron, & Hermine, the O’Fallon Library is inviting you to our Harry Potter Family Reading Night on Thursday, November 17, from 6:30 – 8 PM. This event is for the entire family and will feature activities such as:

• Face painting

• Cookie decorating

• Wand making

• Potions & spells

• Scavenger hunt

• Door prizes and prizes for costumes

• Goodie bags

There is no registration — it is first come first served. We are planning for lots of Harry Potter fans, as we are fans as well! Hope to see you there — just show your lightning bolt at the door.

This article originally appeared in the O’Fallon Weekly.

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