Fans and families celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday at The Open Book

"Anyone who sits through an entire Defense Against the Dark Arts class has to be a Harry Potter fan," said "Professor Summerbee" as she instructs children on how to make their talisman necklaces. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Tucked away in Canyon Country, children and parents met with wizards and witches ahead of the literary birthday of the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, on Saturday.

The Open Book welcomed guests to participate in several Potter-themed activities across different areas of the store. “Professors” sat and welcomed children to make their own magical talismans based on the four houses of the wizarding school Hogwarts, make their own miniature broomsticks, weave spellbooks and even look across the store for the Golden Snitch.

“We started doing this about four years ago and it’s been getting bigger and bigger,” said Erin Suarez-Bitar, the store manager. “We started with a free book giveaway. On that day, we give a select amount of children books away, and then also we started planning activities for the kids, so we’ll hide the Golden Snitch and have prizes, we paint wands, we mix potions.”

The Open Book offers DVD copies of movies as well, though guests left with copies of the Harry Potter books rather than the films, Suarez-Bitar said. The books feature a great deal more detail not always seen in the movies, a credit to the books’ author J.K. Rowling, she added.

Incorporating a themed event has also been a way to encourage children to associate reading with fun, she said.

“It’s gotten a lot of the younger kids curious about it and they want to go ahead and start reading, which is really exciting,” she said. “It makes it seem like an adventure, which is what we’re really hoping to do in the community. A lot of parents in the community are big on getting their kids to read. It’s really nice to see, so we want to support that as much as possible.”

After receiving his Defense Against the Dark Arts talisman, Jordan Ramos was ready for more activities. Five years old and a fan of the franchise, his mother Melissa said he does not have a favorite Harry Potter adventure.

“I believe he just loves them all,” she said. “He’ll just sit through all of them.”

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