Mass. - Harry Potter has captured
the hearts of wannabe wizards and witches of all ages. On
Nov. 16, the much-anticipated movie, "Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's Stone," will blast into American
theaters. Until now, images of the world of Harry Potter
have been rare since the books contain few illustrations.
The movie changes all that, and according to a Wellesley
professor and her student researcher, not for the better.
year, honors student and senior Samantha Roberts of Garrison,
N.Y., worked with Beth Hennessey, Wellesley College professor
of psychology, on research to examine the effect of story
illustrations on children's creativity and imagination and
their interest in and enjoyment of reading.
randomly assigned 30 fourth and fifth graders to one of
two groups," Hennessey said. "Either they listened
to a taped passage of Harry Potter while looking at an illustration
of that passage, or they heard the passage and saw no illustration."
children then drew their own pictures of the passage and
were interviewed about their satisfaction with their artwork
and their enjoyment of the passage.
main goal was to look at the impact of story illustrations,"
Hennessey said. Harry Potter books were just a convenient
vehicle. But that choice enjoyed perfect timing since the
data was gathered just before the deluge of Potter merchandise,
in anticipation of the film, hit the stores.
imaginations of the kids had not yet been tainted by Potter
action figures and the like," Hennessey said. The study
seems to underscore the imaginative power of good old-fashioned
story-telling. The findings also show that children's imaginations
and creativity can be significantly influenced by a story
found definite, statistically significant, differences between
the two groups of kids, both in terms of the creativity
of their pictures and their interest in the Potter passage,"
Hennessey said. "Kids who had been shown a sample illustration
were far less likely to produce a creative drawing themselves.
They were also less likely to be interested in reading or
hearing more about Harry Potter."
asked if they planned to see the Harry Potter movie, 29
out of 30 of the children answered that they did. However,
some expressed concerns about it. "I think the movie
will take away from the book," one child said, "because
reading the book won't be as exciting." Another said,
"I'm going to see the movie, but it makes me mad because
that's not the way I want to picture it."
in 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in liberal
arts and the education of women for 125 years. The College's
500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate