J K Rowling and her Wizarding World partners have announced three new initiatives under the banner Harry Potter At Home, to help children, parents, carers and teachers who are at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
The first initiative is a new digital hub with information and activities for children, parents and carers, it will be hosted on WizardingWorld.com. The hub is live today. Secondly, throughout April, partnerships with Audible and OverDrive will enable readers to access the audiobook and e-book of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for free.
The Harry Potter at Home hub is described as a space for children to discover Harry Potter, either on their own, or reading and listening together with parents, carers and loved ones. Wizarding Wednesdays on the hub and on social media will provide creative and craft activities, quizzes and fun things to do for parents and carers, and an email newsletter every Friday will bring fresh ideas to households.
Audible will provide the audiobook for free as part of its Audible Stories collection. It will be available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese. The English language version will be read by Stephen Fry in the UK and in North America for the first time.
OverDrive will provide the e-book through its online library system, available in over 20 languages.
Rowling said: "The teachers, parents and carers working to keep children’s lives as normal and happy as possible while we’re all on lockdown deserve a bit of magic. I hope these initiatives will give children and even adults a happy distraction during their enforced stay-at-home time."
Bloomsbury and Scholastic, which publish Harry Potter in print, are also said to be supporting the effort.
Neil Blair, founder of J K Rowling's agency The Blair Partnership commented: "The Harry Potter books have always been a refuge, comfort and escape for readers, and right now, we need reading for pleasure more than ever. Many households will already have a Harry Potter book at home, but I’m delighted that we can now provide free online access to the audio and e-book of the first book in the series, through Audible and libraries, for all to enjoy, as well as a fantastic new digital hub for families with younger children to help them through these difficult times."
The Harry Potter at Home announcement follows the news on 20th March that J K Rowling has granted a temporary Open Licence to enable teachers to record and post videos of themselves reading Harry Potter books aloud to their classes and school networks.