Become a more compassionate human with Harry and Hermione.
First he fought Voldemort, and now he's fighting bigotry. Harry Potter might just be the greatest hero of our time.
A new paper, published in the Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, found that young people who read JK Rowling's book series had improved perceptions towards immigrants, refugees and LGBT people.
The findings come from a series of studies conducted among schoolkids in Italy and college students in England.
The first featured 34 Italian fifth-graders, who filled out a questionnaire outlining their attitudes towards immigrants before being split into two groups: one which, over a six-week period, discussed sections of the books that dealt specifically with prejudice, and the other which didn't. According to researchers, those in the first group showed "improved attitudes towards immigrants."
The second study surveyed 117 Italian high-school students, and found that those who had read more books from the series -- and specifically identified with Harry -- exhibited more tolerance towards gay people.
The third study, which questioned college students in England, found a significant link between dedicated readers who HATED Voldemort (uh, some people didn't?) and "lower levels of prejudice against refugees".
Basically, kids are smart! It seems that Rowling's references to "muggles" and "mudbloods" (those without magical bloodlines) in the books aren't lost on young readers, who recognise their basis in real-world bigotry.
Turns out our English teachers we're right: reading can make us better people (if only we'd all done our homework a lot more).