What Harry Potter Means to Me

Unless you were abducted by aliens and spent the past week cruising the Milky Way, you probably know the final Harry Potter movie came out on Friday. I haven’t seen it yet, so no spoilers ahead . . .

I believe it was September 2000, and I was at a faculty meeting with the English department for Everett Community College where I worked. One of the other instructors was teaching a course in children’s literature. The buzz before the meeting was about a series called Harry Potter.

“Who’s Harry Potter?” I asked.

All conversation stopped, and many pairs of disbelieving eyes stared hard at me.

“Michele, Where have you been?” Someone asked.

In the months that followed, I found myself in the library perusing the children’s book section. I found the Harry Potter books, but still, I resisted. I figured out that the Harry Potter series were fantasy books, and I had very bad luck with fantasy books I had tried to read (mind you, these were adult books).  If taken the time to remember the great fantasy books of my childhood, I would have been more enthusiastic. Instead, I decided to wait.

Finally, around the end of November, I grabbed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the only one available at the library at that time). I took it home and fell in love. Soon after consuming book three, I managed to get my hands on the other books (one, two, and four) and read them eagerly.

Reading Harry Potter reminded me how much fun I had reading as a child–the beautiful experience of entering a world and forgetting the act of reading. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t thinking of character development, theme, setting, imagery, or any other literary terms as I read. I simply read for the story. I wanted to know what would happen next. I genuinely cared about Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

This experience planted a little seed somewhere in my muddled brain. I was writing and publishing at that time, but I wasn’t very enthusiastic about my work. Reading Harry Potter reminded me of what I used to love.  Why hadn’t I thought of it before? What did I love doing more than anything when I was a child? READING BOOKS. Why not write books for children?

The following year I would volunteer at the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference, and this would continue to shape my journey in the right direction toward writing for children. I still had a lot to learn.

I still do.

So, what does Harry mean to me?

Reading and writing makes our world more magical.

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