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Book Club Kits: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Discussion Questions

  • The title of each of the chapters provides some clues as to what will occur in each. Do the titles tell the whole truth? How do they reveal some of the more symbolic meaning of the story?

  • The author has more than a little bit of fun with names in this story. For example, the Professor of Herbology is Professor Sprout, and even the authors of the textbooks Harry must study are puns and riddles. Can you find other examples of this wordplay and show how the names reflect the characteristics of their owners? What about names that are the opposite of what you'd expect? — for example, the huge, terrifying three-headed dog named Fluffy? What effect do you think the author achieves with this name?

  • Many novels of high fantasy borrow from the traditional stories of fairy tales, myths, and legends. The dog Fluffy which guards the trapdoor at Hogwarts School resembles Cerberus, the three-headed dog which guards the underworld of Greek mythology. What other creatures from traditional tales are paralleled in the story? How does each of these creatures play a pivotal role in advancing the plot?

  • In Chapter Nine, Harry disobeys a direct order from one of the teachers at the Hogwarts School and takes off on a broom. This infraction is normally cause for expulsion from the school. However, in Harry's case, it brings him the honor of being chosen as the "Seeker" for his Quidditch team. Can you find other instances in the story where Harry's actions lead to quite opposite results from what is expected? To what extent is the book's plot advanced by such surprise turns of events? How much unpredictability would be too much?

  • Quirrell tells Harry that "There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it" (p. 291). Do you agree with this? Is this the reality of the world? Or if good and evil do exist, what makes them so? Which is more important in the world, power, or good and evil?

The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Movie