by Anna Cavallo

I thought I was going to write about vocabulary.

It is, after all, an important element of all books, and it’s particularly something we think about in shaping and refining Lerner books. Throwing around too many unfamiliar words may deter a reader. But introducing a key term in a clear, relatable way expands the collection of tools students have at their disposal—tools for interpreting the world as well as expressing themselves.

And we all—perhaps especially editors—have our favorite words. (A few of mine: apostrophic, ergativity, systematicity.) Recently I’ve been entertained by Merriam-Webster’s Trend Watch and Oxford’s Save the Words—both worth a visit from any word lover.

So, with a mere seven days left until the seventh Harry Potter movie hits theaters, I thought I’d start this Post On Vocabulary by throwing out some HP-isms that are now household terms. Like Quidditch.

But how often does one actually write out Quidditch? I had to Google it to see if there really is a t before the ch. (For shame. I know.)

People, do you know what I found?


This. I found out that the Quidditch World Cup is this weekend. In New York City. With 757 athletes competing on 46 teams. And entertainment including a cappella groups, live owls, and a band called Harry and the Potters. I’m imagining kind of a sportier version of Woodstock, in the middle of Manhattan. (Note that this is awe, not ridicule, in my tone.)

Maybe I’m behind the times. National media have been covering this event for two or three years already. I’m sure I’ve heard something in passing about college Quidditch. And it fits—many of the earliest Potterheads are now young adults. (I’m both surprised and a little disappointed that my own alma mater doesn’t have a team in the tournament.)

This national event is put on by the International Quidditch Association, whose website states: “The IQA, Inc is a magical nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the game of Quidditch and utilizing the game to inspire young people to lead more physically active and socially engaged lives.”

How great is that? Couldn’t we all name a number of young people who would be more likely to get out and try Quidditch than, say, basketball, because of the HP connection? …And a few who might never put down a book at all unless it was to do something related to the literary world?

I’m now so excited about the Quidditch World Cup that I have no idea what else I was going to say about vocabulary. I won’t be able to make it, but I hope others will. Enjoy the action, the humor, the entertainment. (They actually have to keep their brooms between their legs!) And enjoy the proof that words are just the gateway to all the other magic we find in books.

Thanks to the IQA for permission to use the Quidditch World Cup image above!