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Letter from the editor: The end of Harry Potter marks the end of childhood

Dumder dum-dum, der dum-dum... with these seven notes the world’s youth will be in thrall for an eighth time as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) starts with evil Lord Voldemort taking...

So begins the conclusion of one of history’s most successful movie franchises. I won’t spoil it — even though millions of its younger audience already know what happens in the film (which opens in London tonight) because they have devoured the books. All seven of them.

Like many families we will watch with heavy hearts. It is likely the last franchise we will all see together in its entirety — as friends take over the girls’ social lives. Like many 13- and 14-year-olds, they have had Potter in book and film guises as the story arc background to their young lives in the way baby boomers relate to the Beatles ouevre. The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, arrived in June 1997, splitting my girls. It came amid a backdrop of concern about the impact of video games and TV on young reading habits. “Books are dying”, they said. And, for a while, I thought ‘they’ were right. “I don't do reading,” Lara, aged 5, declared. She then read Potter and was hooked on books for life. Fast-forward to June 2005, and we are queueing with hundreds of eight-year-olds on a balmy night in Manhattan awaiting the midnight launch of Half-Blood Prince. They each read a copy through the night — all 608 pages.

J K Rowling has sold 450 million Potter books, taught a generation of children to read and yet some are so snobby about her. Not here. She ought to be both celebrated . Because of her, tonight is a punctuation point in so many young lives. The girls call it the end of their childhood. It is a bitter-sweet moment, but one that, collectively, we should cherish.

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