Life just isn’t the same without a Harry Potter “first night” party and book sale to go to!
I started reading J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to keep up with my grandchildren, but found myself sucked into the books because of their initial charm and overwhelming fantasy. What child doesn’t imagine sorcery and spell casting, quidditch and disappearing maps, and all sorts of magic. It’s a wonderland.
The first book or two were lighter fare, and through Harry’s eyes we saw it all.
It wasn’t until book three — The Prisoner of Azkaban — that the darker side of magic began to seep in: the well-liked teacher with a slight werewolf problem, and the escaped prisoner that was truly one of the good guys.
By book six, and our sixth Harry Potter midnight celebration — in costume, four members of my family spent the night in their respective rooms, reading the book cover to cover. At one point, I was crying over the death of the beloved Dumbledore when my granddaughter Rochelle came up the stairs to use the bathroom. Taking one look at my tearful face, she screamed “don’t tell me!” and ran down the stairs to read until she found the newest tragedy.
We’ve read the books and seen all the movies more than once. Seven books. Eight movies. Heroes and villains.
What did we learn? Not all people are good (including parents). Not everyone is what they seem. Sometimes the good don’t win. Honor often requires sacrifice. Loyalty and friendship are beyond price. Love is powerful.
The overall message gleaned from the Harry Potter books is that goodness can overcome just about anything, but sometimes it comes with a price.
For more than a decade, we’ve watched young Harry grow up and grow wise. We’ve watched him confront impossible choices with a bravery and steadfastness we should all strive for.
Throughout the times I’ve spent ready Harry Potter, I can help but wonder — with all the positive things that happen in those pages — what are people afraid of? Harry Potter is good triumphing over evil. It’s fodder for great discussions of tall these qualities and issues. And Rowling gave a damned good ending.
And it’s just fiction, people. Fiction that turned millions of kids into avid readers that span far beyond these eight books.
The sheer joy of reading Harry Potter’s adventures is its own reward. I’ll keep reading him — and watching the films — forever. I only wish he had come along when I was a kid.