The sequel to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has been released in audio adaptations: the British version is read by Stephen Fry, and the American recording is told by Jim Dale. A movie based on the first Harry Potter book was released in November 2001. Many Harry Potter resources recommend books by Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman, L. Frank Baum, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, but many books with similar themes, characters, and plots as the Harry Potter novels are often overlooked. These books include Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) in which the protagonist, like Harry in the Chamber, must figure out how to escape from a cave where he is trapped.
Racism is a recurring theme in Carolyn Meyer’s books, including White Lilacs (1993), in which an early twentieth-century African-American neighborhood is forced to relocate; that story’s sequel, Jubilee Journey (1997), which examines how biracial characters confront discrimination and develop identities much like the “mudbloods”; Drummers of Jericho (1995), which depicts how a Jewish character is ostracized for refusing to form a cross and play hymns with the marching band; and Mary, Bloody Mary (1999), which explores attitudes toward illegitimacy and witchcraft as experienced by the aristocratic historical figures Mary Tudor and Anne Boleyn result in those characters’ banishment to servile roles much like Hagrid is expelled from Hogwarts.
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is a classic novel about children confronting racism. Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976) is one of several books in which discrimination in school and society is the prevailing theme. Discovery of prejudices in others and self is the theme of Vicki Winslow, Follow the Leader (1997). In Maizon at Blue Hill (1992), Jacqueline Woodson examines racism encountered by a gifted African-American student at a boarding school and within her home community where she is accused of elitism and called an “oreo” somewhat like the derisive term “mudblood.” Caroline B. Cooney’s Burning Up (1999) reveals neighbors’ racial biases, and Autumn Street by Lois Lowry (1980) shows how children can ignore racial differences and how words can be used to stereotype and reduce the stature of others. The remote Melungeon community in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Sang Spell (1998) is reminiscent of the technology-free, confined space of Hogwarts. The landscape changes much like the castle’s staircases and walls move. The mixed heritage of the settlers remind readers of the “mudbloods.” The main character in The Secret of Gumbo Grove (1987) by Eleanora E. Tate solves a generations-old mystery in the local cemetery much like Harry figures out what the Chamber of Secrets contains. Jay Bennett’s Skinhead (1991) explores the violent culture of teenaged white supremacists. The protagonist is a privileged boy who befriends a girl with a strange scar.
Nonfiction works which illuminate Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets include Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Growing Up in Coal Country (1996), a history of mining-including in underground tunnels-written for children, and Michael J. Neufield’s scholarly tome, The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemunde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era (1994), which analyzes how imprisoned Jewish laborers worked in underground cave-like German V-2 factories during World War II, hinting of some of the World War II motifs in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Although criticized for stereotyping the Deep South, Paul Hemphill’s The Ballad of Little River: A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South (2000) is a case study addressing why white teenagers burned a black Alabama church and examining the dynamics of racial violence. Representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center which sponsors the Teaching Tolerance program, Morris Dees and James Corcoran documented the development of violent, paranoid hate groups in Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat (1996).