July's Harry Potter Read-Aloud a Success

The joint project of the Arts & Culture Committee, the El Segundo Public Library, and community volunteers was a fun experiment for all.


By Natalie Strong


A cozy chair in a room with lamp and candle light, and a Harry Potter book
The cozy Harry Potter Read-Aloud setup at El Segundo Public Library

An untried endeavor contains endless possibilities (wild success, abject failure, unnoticed fizzle), and until it is tried, there’s no way to determine its destiny. Participants in the recent Harry Potter Read-Aloud in the El Segundo Public Library’s new Room of Requirement faced these possibilities as the clock struck 9:00 am on Monday, July 22nd. Erin Goss, second-grade teacher at Richmond Street School, opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and began reading “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” With that, the untried endeavor marched forward: to read aloud, in order, continuously, all seven of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series in a week.

Erin Goss reads aloud to kids and adults in a cozy room at a library
Volunteer Erin Goss reads from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone at the library's Room of Requirement

When I conceived of this idea, I thought, “That would never work, but wouldn’t it be amazing if it did?” I opted to focus on the amazing possibilities and brought the idea to Melissa McCollum, director of the library. She saw the potential as well. Well then: why not try it?

From opening to closing, we read. All week. Of the 110 open library hours between Monday at 9:00 am and Saturday at 5:00 pm, only one hour went unfilled. The community showed up on time, one after another, to complete this project. We did not make it to the end of the series, which we knew had been a long shot anyway. But we succeeded at the larger goal: to fill the week together, to celebrate literacy and this fiction series, to show our devotion to our community, and to attempt to do the impossible in the face of all of its untried possibilities.

Margot Strong sits in a comfortable armchair reading aloud from a Harry Potter novel
Margot Strong takes a turn reading aloud

Thank you to all of our readers and listeners, the El Segundo Public Library Staff, and the El Segundo community.

See you next summer?


This story appears in the September 2019 issue of The El Segundo Scene.

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