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Teachers: Citizenship: Business

Last Updated: Tuesday July 31 2007 11:37 GMT

Harry Potter debate

Business and its changing nature

Kids in Hong Kong get their hands on the book

The seventh and final Harry Potter book was published on Saturday 21 July 2007.

Kids and adults queued outside bookshops around the world to get Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book is flying off the shelves and some people think it'll become the fastest-selling book of all time.

Students debate the nature of marketing in the world of children's books.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should understand that:

  • Publishing books is a big business
  • Marketing campaigns change our behaviour
  • Meaning of the word hype

Read out this story to the group

  • Are their any Potter fans in the group?
  • What do they think of the way the books and films are marketed?
  • How do their views differ from those in the group who don't like Potter?
This Potter fan was the first in the queue!
For a fun start up activity pick something from our Harry Potter content. The links are on the right of this page. If you have internet access there is a magic-themed game called Spell Catcher and a selection of quizzes. The features section includes reports from kids in the queues which formed when the previous book was released in 2005.

Main activity

Class debate

Explain that the class is going to debate the issues surrounding the marketing of children's' books and films.

A debate is based around a suggestion or motion.

The motion is:

This house believes that it's OK to hype Harry

Divide the class into proposers (for the motion) and opposers (against the motion).

Students research and write down arguments which either support or oppose the motion.

A summary of arguments can be found on the worksheets and opinion pieces in the blue box.

Students can use either the proposers' and opposers' points or deduce them by reading Sophie's review and Rebecca's Press Pack.

Select seven students to be:

  • Speaker. This person chairs the debate but cannot take part or vote.
  • First proposer to speak
  • First opposer to speak
  • Opposer to sum up
  • Proposer to sum up
  • Two tellers to count the votes
Hold the debate in this order:

Students vote twice

    1. Students vote to support or oppose the motion, depending on which they thought were the most convincing and well-constructed arguments. This may not necessarily be what they believe personally. The Speaker can't vote.

    They do so by going to the 'aye' or 'no' side of the classroom.

    The two tellers count up the votes (bodies), on either side of the room.

    The Speaker announces the result of the vote.

    2. Students vote according to their beliefs. The Speaker is no longer in role and can therefore vote.

    As before, the two tellers count up the votes (bodies), on either side of the room and the Speaker announces the result of the vote.

Extension activity

This Potter fan was the first in the queue!
After the debate, each student writes a personal statement of their opinions.

They pick five arguments that match their viewpoint and include them in a report that starts "I think/don't think that it's OK too hype Harry Potter books because..."


Students devise a completely honest marketing strategy for a well known fizzy drink or fast food restaurant.


Ask students:

  • What would our society be like if all advertising was completely honest?
  • Are younger people more likely to be misled by advertising than adults?
Teachers' background

Midnight queues are not new

In 1821, when the poet Byron had the latest parts of his popular Don Juan published, excited crowds banged on his publisher's door and windows.

Charles Dickens' novel, The Old Curiosity Shop, was published in parts. In 1841, crowds of fans in New York greeted the ship bringing in the latest part by shouting: "Is Little Nell dead?"

In 1854, The Bronze Soldier by GWM Reynolds sold 100,000 copies on the day it came out.

For hundreds more news-based stories, click on Teachers on the left-hand side.

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