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.