Yeah. Sorry for the dramatic title. The “It” to which I refer is Harry Potter, not the world, or my life, or anything like that.
It was the summer of 2003. I was working at a summer camp, and all around me, little girls in hats and shorts were carrying around huge books with blue covers. “What is this book?”, I thought to myself. It probably weighs as much as some of the girls do.
Then one of them handed to me, with a heave, and I saw the cover. A boy with messy black hair, glasses, and a lighting shaped scar on his forehead. Hmm, is this the elusive Harry Potter I’ve heard so much about? It was.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had just come out, and it seemed every girl at camp was reading it. I felt left out.
So I mentioned to a few fellow counselors that I was interested in maybe checking out “this whole Harry Potter thing”. Little did I know that one of them was my “secret giver”. A tradition at camp whereby each counselor is the “secret giver” for another, and we would give little treats, small gifts, and thoughtful things for each other throughout the summer. At the last staff meeting of the summer, the secret giver would be revealed, and a gift would be given to your givee.
My giver was awesome and gave me paperback versions of Harry Potter books 1-4. I still have them, tattered as they are from being read several times each, and they remain one of the best gifts I’ve been given.
I devoured the first four books in a matter of about two weeks, and bought the fifth book as soon as I finished them. Where I had previously teased a college friend who was big into HP, I had become, seemingly overnight, a Potter-head.
There are several reasons I love Harry Potter. I was immediately drawn to this story because Harry’s parents died. My mother died. I can relate.
Harry always felt that he was different, that he did not belong. And the truth was, he didn’t belong. He was made for another world. So am I. The draw of fantasy worlds, where we fit perfectly, be they Narnia or Hogwarts, is that it stirs within our souls an eternal truth. We were not made for this world, east of Eden. Good fantasy stories remind us of this fact.
The stories are full of charm, romance, wit, and *gasp!* morality. No, the characters (even the good ones), do not always do what’s right. But neither do I, and frankly, characters without flaws are boring and un-realistic.
That aside, the overarching theme of this story is that good triumphs over evil. No matter how much suffering we encounter in our lives, choosing evil will never result in good. Stories like this are so needed in this world of “whatever works for you” morality.
As Albus Dumbledore says, “It is not our abilities that determine what we are, it is our choices.” The world needs to hear that! Children need to know that choices matter, and if they’re not hearing it from parents, hearing it from a loved book character might make it stick!
Reading these stories had a major impact on me. They made me remember the way I fell in love with reading as a child. The way I would sit under the covers with a flashlight in order to finish a new book, even though it was “lights out”.
Since that summer in 2003, there has been a new Harry Potter something every few years or so. But Friday night will be the last new Harry Potter “anything”, and while it’s so exciting I can hardly wait, it’s also sort of sad.
As the poster says, It all ends. Now I just have to remember to keep calm.And bring Kleenex.