Tag: young readers

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

7 Facts About Minerva McGonagall

Today, October 4th marks the day of two very important birthdays: mine (not to brag) and my personal favorite Hogwarts professor, one who has proven to be the wisest and most badass character in all of Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall!

 

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

Image via Vulture

 

While this surface-level description paints her in a blindingly positive light, the reality is that deep down (if you do your research), she has been through far more than anyone, muggle or wizard, had ever gone through or could even bear to live with and is actually one of the most tragic characters within the world that Rowling has crafted around the “Boy Who Lived,” all of which just adds an extra layer to her already complex character that came to be an all-round crowd favorite amongst the Potterheads (including me).

So, here are seven facts about Minerva McGonagall that you may not have known about from just reading the books or watching the movies. (Also, Maggie Smith’s strong acting chops adds another layer to the reader’s imagination of McGonagall’s badassery.)

 

1. Her sorting into Gryffindor took over five minutes

 

Sorting Hat on Hermione in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via Thought Catalog

 

If you actually counted every time a young witch or wizard gets sorted into a house in any of the movies, then you would get no more than a minute, or two tops.

Very much like Hermione (my personal favorite character of the series and whom the Hat was initially stumped on placing in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor), Minerva has the special kind of qualities that can really stump – or stall – the Sorting Hat for at least five minutes straight upon placing a new-coming student into a House that it’s quite literally a “Hat-Stall,” until she was finally placed in Gryffindor, just like Hermione, and has really lived up to her House name in more ways than just being the House Head!

 

2. She was named after the Roman name for a Greek goddess

 

Painting of Athena with spear and shield

Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

Speaking of living up to Gryffindor’s name, if you ever studied Greek/Roman mythology, then you should probably recognize McGonagall’s first name Minerva, which was the Roman name given to the Greek goddess Athena (a.k.a. goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice, especially when it comes to warfare).

As for her surname McGonagall, while it for sure shows off her Scottish lineage and was actually named after the Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall (a.k.a. the worst poet known throughout the U.K.), it’s actually a name that’s not at all within the Wizarding World, which brings us to this fact…

 

3. She is a half-blood witch

 

Professor McGonagall duelling in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie

Image via Bustle

While her mother Isobel Ross was a full-blooded witch, Minerva’s father Robert McGonagall, however, was a muggle, and Isobel, sworn by the International Statute of Secrecy not to reveal herself or anything about the Wizarding World to muggles, did not tell Robert until long after the birth of their first child Minerva, who started to exhibit her magical abilities to her parents.

Robert decided to stay and keep Isobel’s identity a secret, showing how loving and loyal her husband really was, and when her parents even later had two boys, Minerva helped her mother out in cleaning up the messes caused by her brothers’ magic.

(Keep her magically-mixed parents in mind: they will pop up again later…)

 

 

 

4. She won awards for Transfiguration and later, the Order of Merlin: First Class

 

Professor McGonagall teaching Transfiguration in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via YouTube

 

Not only is she awesome at her job teaching Transfiguration and at being a freakin’ Animagus (a.k.a. a product of Transfiguration that already made her more than qualified in teaching Transfiguration), she won awards for doing what she does best, including her badges for Prefect and Head Girl, top grades for her O.W.L and N.E.W.T exams, and upon leaving school, the Transfiguration Today: Most Promising Newcomer award.

Also, after the Battle of Hogwarts, because of her strong display of bravery (by far, her truest moment of living up to her Head of Gryffindor name) in protecting the Hogwarts grounds against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, she so rightfully earned the Order of Merlin: First Class, an award specifically given for acts of bravery or entertainment within the Wizarding World.

 

5. She was engaged to a muggle (for less than a day)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' movie

Image via Radio Times

 

Now, here is just a taste of what makes Minerva a tragic character of the series…

The summer after graduating from Hogwarts, Minerva returned home to Scotland and met Dougal McGregor, who was the son of a muggle farmer and with whom Minerva fell deeply in love. In fact, later that very summer, she accepted his proposal to marry him!

However, and this is the part where I get back to her parents, not willing to make the same mistake her mother made but still not willing to risk the secrecy of the Wizarding World, Minerva broke off the proposal the very next morning after their engagement, but she very much later regretted her decision to do so: during Voldemort’s rise, McGregor was murdered in the crossfire of an anti-muggle attack by the Death Eaters.

Try looking at her the same way you did before…

 

 

 

6. She married her former boss (for three years)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter' movie

Image via Hollywood.com

 

 

If you thought the previous point about Minerva’s tragic life was dark (but then again, this is the world of Harry Potter we’re talking about), here’s an extra dark layer…

While Elphinstone Urquart (Minerva’s boss from her first job working at the Ministry of Magic, a fact that I didn’t much room to make for on this list) over the years had asked Minerva to marry him, even while she was briefly engaged to McGregor, at one point, she finally accepted his proposal and of course, married and lived with him in a cottage at Hogsmeade. However, their marriage only lasted three years, as Urquart died from a Venomous Tentacula bite, and Minerva moved back to her Hogwarts chambers, leaving behind the home she shared with her last love.

I swear Minerva can never catch a break with her personal life!

 

7. She got to be permanent headmistress after Voldemort’s defeat

 

Professor McGonagall at the Battle of Hogwarts in 'Harry Potter and the DEathly Hallows: Part 2' movie

Image via The Book Addict’s Guide to MBTI

 

Well. At least she’s got one of many things going for her: after the Battle of Hogwarts, she was appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts. Permanently! And that is where we see her today…

I don’t think it’s too much of a coincidence that she and I both share a birthday: we’re both smart Libras with so much to offer the world. Happy Birthday, Minerva, my Hogwarts kindred spirit.

Also, to anyone out there in the U.K. if you ever find a normal-looking tabby cat looking down at a map, then you know where Minerva McGonagall is…

 

Featured Image via Wizards And Whatnot

UChicago Wants Young Readers to Start Their Own Libraries

Thousands of students from the U.S. and the Dominican Republic are building their own libraries thanks to UChicago's 'My Very Own Library' literacy program.

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Arthur displays his library card.

A Librarian’s Guide to Fighting Discrimination

Earlier this year, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) published a digital resource for librarians as part of its push for freedom of expression (and book titles) in school libraries. The manual, an eight-page PDF file titled “Defend LGBTQ Stories,” outlines a number of difficult or delicate circumstances educators will encounter as their students develop literary tastes, and offers specific advice on how to be an ally and set an example of compassion for all students. The guide offers librarians simplified tools for de-stigmatizing LGBTQ themes, protesting banned books, staying up to date on school policy changes, communicating with the NCAC, and sharing their experiences on social media.

This fledgeling resource — a small, but mighty PDF — comes as part of a subset of the NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program called the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP). This grassroots-inspired program unites community members and national organizations to oppose the growing tangle of restrictions placed on library media in American schools. According to the NCAC’s website, the KRRP rallies “teachers, booksellers, librarians, local reporters and free speech advocates” to protect the reading rights of students.

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These subsets of the NCAC, itself an entity composed of fifty nonprofit organizations, do not have the legal clout to directly influence policy change in the American education system. Instead, they rely on time-tested community advocacy to drum up significant local support to challenge cases on an individual basis, while making these methods accessible to the public. Since 2016, for example, the Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has pushed bills which aim to restrict materials allowed in Florida classrooms based on their educational value. The NCAC offers a thorough breakdown of the proposed legislation, a timeline for its development, and a history of the FLCA’s past initiatives. This document, available on the NCAC’s website, is free to read and share, and gives activists the help they need to make sure kids can read whatever they please.

While the NCAC’s resource “Defend LGBTQ Stories” is in effect a glorified How-To guide for being a properly “woke” librarian in an American school, it is nonetheless a tremendously productive and helpful tool which, in the hands of community activists and national associations alike, has the potential to effect real change and inspire a future generation that embraces diversity.

 

Featured Image via Arthur

Young Readers Still Prefer Books to Screens, Study Shows

Young people absorb information more easily from reading from physical books rather than from screens. This is the case, despite these“digital natives” growing up around screens such as laptops, iPhones, iPads and tablets.

According to The Irish Times, “the analysis of how more than 170,000 people are learning across Europe” finds that children and young adult far prefer reading physical copies of novels and longer-form articles, and tend to skim longer pieces of text when reading from screens.

The article notes that those studied were far less likely to take notes or become immersed in what they are reading when reading from tablet or computer screens.

These findings have “implications for how students learn both at home and in the classroom”, according to Dr Ann Marcus-Quinn, a lecturer at University of Limerick who is part of an EU-wide research team. “Just because young people can master electronic devices doesn’t mean that they have the critical skills to interpret texts,” she said. “While there is a bigger focus on independent learning, students still need expertise and help [from teachers] . . . and if students are taking notes, the old approach of using a pencil and pen or Post-It notes has its place.”

While Dr Marcus-Quinn is opposed to an over-all move way from technology entirely, noting that shorter texts like poetry can work be read and understood effectively from screens, according the research, there is a tendency among teachers to underestimate “the negative impact of digital technology when their students read longer texts, while students are more likely to be overconfident about their comprehension ability.”

Dr. Marcus-Quinn is one of close to 200 scholars and scientists investigating the effect of the digital age on reading in the European Union.

Read more about the study and its findings here!

 

Featured Image Via dissolve.com

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Between The Covers: “Yoga Bunny”

What happens when yoga meets bunny? Illustrator and yoga enthusiast Brian Russo’s amazing book, Yoga Bunny, brings yoga to a new generation!

“Between the Covers” is a series that serves to explore the beauty found on the insides of books.

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