Could the buzz on the street really be true? Is there such a thing as too much Harry Potter? For his young fans, says one doctor, the answer might unfortunately be yes.
Deemed “Hogwarts headache” after the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry attended by Harry Potter, the main character in the hit series of hefty and socially-required reading for the pre-teen set, a pediatrician in Washington D.C. believes the size of the book may be a little too much for some of his young patients.
In a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Howard J. Bennett noted that he treated three otherwise healthy children last summer who complained of headaches for a few days after reading the book by author J. K. Rowling.
But reading is supposed to be good for kids, right? Maybe not when the book is 870 pages and the fans who read it become so enthralled that they spend eight to 10 hours a day reading, indicates Bennett. The headaches, believes Bennett, were probably caused by tensing of the head muscles of the children for long periods of time while reading the book. Additionally, one of the children Bennett saw also complained of wrist and neck pain.
Bennett, who says he wants to encourage children to continue reading and who said he, himself, also enjoyed the most recent installment of the Harry Potter book, said his big concern lies in the series’ trend toward an ever-increasing page length. The first book of the five weighed in at a mere 309 pages; subsequent book sizes continued to increase. Bennett indicated that if this trend towards bigger-is-better continues, the incidence of Hogwarts headaches in the future could rise.
However, in an article on MSN.com, Bennett noted that he didn’t want to imply that author Rowling begin writing shorter books. “Just keeping writing great books. I wouldn’t dream of giving her advice,” he said.
To test Bennett’s “Hogwarts headache” theory, MSN.com asked 10-year-old Galen Stump, who polished off all 870 pages in three days, if he experienced any pain from his reading experience. Stump, whose answers would imply that he’s well on his way to a future career in ergonomics, read the book on a road trip from New York to Colorado and said he did experience occasional headaches. He attributed those headaches to the long hours he spent on the same task (reading) plus the car’s poor lighting.