Harry Potter and the Story That Lives On
An owl delivered the sixth Harry Potter book to my front doorstep when I was 21 years old.
A fresh, unread Harry Potter book was like the big present under the Christmas tree. But better than that, because opening the book was like unwrapping a new gift with each turn of the 607 pages.
The seventh book was bittersweet. I didn’t want the story to end. I savored it. Took my time. If you saw me reading there was no point in talking to me. Because I would not have heard you. I was in the book.
After reading the last page I sat on the floor of my bedroom and felt empty. I thought, “I will never read a book series as good as this.”
15 years later I still haven’t.
After lamenting the loss of my favorite wizards and witches I had a wonderful realization. I could re-read the books. So I did. All of them. Numerous times.
When I look at the cover of a Harry Potter book I feel a rush of belonging, friendship, and adventure. The adult wizards were clearly in charge but they made plenty of mistakes. Like when Hagrid smuggled in an egg that cracked into a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon. Or when Professor Lockhart tried to mend Harry’s broken bones, but instead, removed them completely.
Even though students followed the rules (for the most part) and respected the teachers, they didn’t sit back and wait for permission. They were curious and brave and determined to find the answers themselves. And they did it together. As friends.
When I think of Harry Potter I think of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid entering Diagon Alley (go through the Leaky Cauldron, out into a small, walled courtyard, and tap the brick in just the right spots) and being surrounded by magic and wonder and possibility.
I think of the moment Harry, Ron, and Hermione became best friends:
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a 12-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
I think of the twinkle in Professor Albus Dumbledore’s eyes, the antics of the Weasley twins, the bravery and nervousness of Neville Longbottom, the Great Hall for its lavish feasts and bewitched ceiling (it always mirrored the sky outside), the coveted school trips to Hogsmeade, and the secret trips to Hagrid’s Hut, hidden under the Invisibility Cloak.
And now as a parent, I get to experience it all over again through an entirely new lens. As I stand in our baby’s Harry Potter-themed nursery swaying back and forth, I dream of reading these books to George.
I think of each book welcoming George with open arms, just as Molly Weasley welcomed Harry to The Burrow. I think of George getting lost in J.K. Rowling’s world that makes magic feel so real. I think of him learning the value of friendship, and that no matter how old you are you can have agency over your own life.
There’s nothing as pure and wondrous as reading Harry Potter for the first time.
Except maybe reading it through a child’s eyes.