Study: Kids Who Read Harry Potter Grow Up to Be Better People

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

What can a book about a boy wizard fighting a bad guy who drinks unicorn blood teach kids about the real world? A whole lot, according to a study conducted by researchers in Italy. As Pacific Standard reports, kids who read Harry Potter hold more accepting views toward marginalized groups.

For the study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2015, the team of researchers looked at three groups of readers. The first consisted of 34 Italian fifth graders. Students were asked to answer questions dealing with their attitudes toward immigrants before breaking into groups to discuss passages from the Harry Potter books over a six-week period. Kids from groups that focused on sections dealing with prejudice specifically showed “improved attitudes towards immigrants”—but only if they reported identifying with the main character.

For the second part of the study, the researchers surveyed 117 Italian high schoolers. The respondents who read the most Harry Potter books and related to Harry exhibited a more open attitude toward gay individuals.

Finally, they collected data from 71 undergraduate students in the UK. This time they wanted to know how Harry Potter would influence readers’ perspectives on refugees. Unlike the previous participants, the college students who identified with Harry weren’t any more likely to be accepting of the disenfranchised group (maybe because the older readers are less likely to relate to a younger character no matter their personality). But if they also reported not feeling any connection to Voldemort, then their attitude toward refugees had a greater chance of being positive.

It’s not hard to find metaphors for racial politics in the Harry Potter books as an adult. The words Voldemort and the Death Eaters use to describe “pure blood” wizards and muggle-born “mudbloods” aren’t too far-removed from actual Nazi terminology. But as the research suggests, young readers don’t need to be familiar with the real-world parallels to grasp the message.

[h/t Pacific Standard]

It's Official: Benedict Cumberbatch Is Confirmed for Doctor Strange Sequel

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

Just when Marvel fans began focusing all of their attention on poring over even the tiniest details in the Avengers: Endgame trailer, Marvel has announced that a Doctor Strange sequel is officially happening.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Scott Derrickson will return to the director’s chair, and although he co-wrote the first film alongside Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, no writer has been announced for the second outing yet.

Benedict Cumberbatch will, of course, reprise his role as Dr. Stephen Strange, and Benedict Wong will be returning as Wong. Industry insiders suspect Rachel McAdams will be back as Strange’s love interest, Dr. Christine Palmer, but no formal announcement has been made.

We last saw Doctor Strange earlier this year in Avengers: Infinity War, where he sadly disintegrated into dust at the hands of Thanos’s snap. As most fan theories believe, many of our favorite superheroes will be brought back to life in Avengers: Endgame, which will be the next time we see Cumberbatch’s character. Although his appearance in Avengers: Endgame might only be through flashbacks, and Doctor Strange 2 could still take place before Infinity War, it’s not likely.

Sources say production is being eyed for a spring 2020 start, with a suspected release date around spring 2021. But a lot can happen between now and then, especially depending on what Avengers: Endgame reveals.

George RR Martin Swears He'll Finish The Winds of Winter—He Just Won't Say When

Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb
Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb

It would be an understatement to say Game of Thrones fans are in a bit of distress right now. For one, we have the eighth and final season of the HBO series, which will premiere in April, looming over us. At the same time, we’re scrambling to gather any information we can about the Game of Thrones prequel series. But above all, we’re waiting for George RR Martin to finish The Winds of Winter, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which inspired the beloved TV show.

The Winds of Winter has been particularly difficult for Martin to finish, according to the acclaimed author. In order to keep active, he has focused his efforts on other projects, such as his recently released companion book Fire and Blood. This perceived procrastination hasn't sat well with his fans—some of whom are convinced we will never see his ending to the story.

Martin has heard all the complaints, and took to his blog on December 10 to give an update on the novel that fans have been awaiting for more than seven years, writing:

"[M]y thanks go out to my fans and readers. I know you want WINDS, and I am going to give it to you ... but I am delighted that you stayed with me for [the new book Fire & Blood] as well. Your patience and unflagging support means the world to me. Enjoy the read. Me, I am back in my fortress of solitude, and back in Westeros. It won’t be tomorrow, and it won’t be next week, but you will get the end of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE."

While there's no reason to doubt the veracity of Martin's promise, fans are understandably still skeptical. After The Winds of Winter, there’s still one more novel, A Dream of Spring, to close out the story. At this point, we’re probably better off counting down the days until Game of Thrones's final season premieres ... or the prequel series.

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