The final Harry Potter movie comes out tonight, so I figured I'd offer my two cents. Before I began reading the Harry Potter series, I was damned-near illiterate. I now have a BA in English.
When J.K. Rowling’s world of Harry Potter collided with the world of Barnes and Noble, a surge of children raced out to buy the book. And the world was quiet. The TV’s, Nintendo’s, and computers gathered dust. Children no longer played in their back yards. They were all too busy learning the proper way to enunciate Wingardium Leviosa in their own magical minds.
Little did those aspiring wizards of the suburbs know that late at night, when they dreamed of gigantic spiders and patronuses, the parents of the world stole away into the closet…to dive into the magical world as well.
That’s right. I love Harry Potter. And I know I’m not the only grown-up to fall in love with the book series. Harry Potter found its way into many grown-ups' purses. At my daughter’s playgroup, the mothers would pass around the different books and squeal with excitement each time a new book would arrive.
Every time a new Harry Potter book came out, it seemed as though the world stopped. Time stood still. The real world seemed to fade away. At least for me.
“Mom! I’m really hungry!”
Apparently, my non-reading toddler thought otherwise.
“Ten more pages, sweetie. Ten more pages.”
Harry and I walked through Hogwarts for the first time, hand-in-hand, awestruck by the new fantastical world of magic that surrounded us. I wanted to say that I hated Malfoy first, but I think we came to the conclusion at the same time.
There I was, a twenty-something when I read the first book, having a pack of eleven-year olds as my best friends. I relied on Ron to tell me the ways of magic. I tasted a “bogey-flavored” Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean. I held my breath through the tri-wizard tournament. Yes, I was vicariously living the greatest pre-adolescence ever.
Throughout reading the first few books, I lived each day looking forward to my daughter’s naptime, when my Harry Potter book would come out. I would soak every page up, loving each experience Harry, Ron and Hermione would go through.
When my daughter would wake up, the book went away, but the images still flitted in my mind. If I needed a diaper I’d mumble, acio diaper to no avail. I’d giggle at my silly incantation.
I suppose it was when I began casting spells on my husband that I realized that I might have had a problem.
“Muffliato!” I’d shout, staring ominously.
“What?” my baffled and non-plussed husband would ask.
Hmmm, wrong inflection.
“Muf-flee-a-toe!” I’d shout again. My husband would groan.
“When you finish up that Harry Potter book, will you ask me to turn down the TV like a normal person?” He snorted.
I turned my gaze toward him and focused. “Muffliato!”
It worked. He rolled his eyes. Silently. Maybe Howarts does exist!
Everytime I ended a book, I cried. Not because of the book, mind you, but for the loss of a friend. I’d feel lost and separate from the world around me. It was the bleak acceptance of reality that was the hardest to realize.
The truth is, I hadn’t been much of a reader until Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had found its way on to my lap and into my mind. I had forgotten the complete joy and exhilaration I experienced when I took the first steps into a new book, and into a new world. I had forgotten how easy it was to become immersed within a story.
After my emotional recovery from a lack of new Harry Potter books, I began to dive into other worlds. I was part of a Leprechaun hostage scandal in Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, I traveled to strange and obscure American landmarks in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and strode the Piazza San Marco in Cornelia Funke's The Theif Lord. The experiences continue to this day.
My daughter, now 9, has started to read chapter books. The first “big kid” books I brought to her nightstand were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. At night, just before I tuck her in, we take turns reading. We are half-way finished with The Goblet of Fire.
There is something completely wonderful about sharing this world with her. With every page, she giggles with anticipation, and I giggle with anticipation for her. Now I'm given a whole new experience in seeing my daughter learn to love reading. Now I’m no longer concerned with living vicariously through the characters, but I’m more involved with living vicariously through my daughter’s experience. Her first gasp at he-who-shall-not-be-named, her first loud burst of laughter at the Weasley twins. It feels like I’m reading an entirely different book.
Yes, I believe that Harry, Ron and Hermione have found a new buddy. I’m sure my daughter will fit in to Hogwarts quite well.