They Were Wild About "Harry," Now What?

Today is a bittersweet day for fans of the "Harry Potter" series.

While they've waited years for the release of the final book in the series, when they've turned the final page of the final book, they'll likely feel bereft, set adrift and just plain grumpy.

Many children and young adults have known Harry Potter for as long as they can remember — the first book was published in 1997 — and as they've grown up, so has Harry. For readers who have become attached to Harry and his friends at Hogwarts, the end of the series could be difficult to cope with. What's a parent to do?

The Saturday Early Show consulted with child psychiatrist Dr. Melvin Oatis for some advice on how to handle this unhappy phase.

It is possible for 'tweens and teens to make a smooth transition, says Oatis, though "It's going to be very individual depending on the child."

Unlike adults, who will often read something, then move on to something else, "What's great is that the children will re-read books. The length of time that these have been out means that you can go back to your favorites and re-read them. So parents can have them re-read the books if they're really interested. They can also have other fantasy books ready that appeal to their children. The fact that this one series is ending is not the end of their children reading, or the end of their fascination with this type of material."

The Potter books "appeal to a child's sense of imagination and fantasy," says Oatis. "It allows them to enter this world that they're allowed to imagine. And it's a safe place where they can imagine it happening to someone else - and not to them. Kids can put themselves in these other roles. And the children in these books have remarkable powers. Most children are subject to rules of the parents and teachers. But in the books there are children that have all these powers that they can use."

Oatis suggests using the end of the Potter series as a "teachable moment."

"From a lesson point of view, you can use things like this to draw an analogy to things that happen in a kids' life," says Oatis. "For example: 'Remember when you were sad to leave kindergarten and change schools, but you did it and you learned all these new and exciting things and had new great teachers, etc.'

"You can draw analogies to what they're doing in school — going through different grades. The end of the series need not be the end of their reading and learning and discovering."

Oatis adds that it's also possible to create a "life lesson. Parents can discuss the material that occurs in the book with the child. Many of the parents I interact with, they read them too — and they read ahead so they can anticipate the children's questions."

The books have been popular because they have stimulated children's imaginations, and pointing them in the direction of similar books can continue that process.

It's important to allow them to express their emotions, Oatis warns. "Don't dismiss feelings if a child is sad. Allow the child to express the feelings they're having. The thing about kids is they're quite resilient. They'll feed badly about the book for a little bit, then they'll move on."