Dear JK Rowling,
I cannot imagine a world without Harry Potter and I'm glad I don't have to. How amazing is it that an entire universe came from a single story written by an unemployed Mom in a coffee shop? Harry and his friends are living, breathing parts of our imagination that are to real to most of us as people we see every day. Not only did this story turn on hundreds of thousands students to reading, it revolutionized how the world sees children's and young adult fiction. Harry Potter is more than a story, it's a piece of our lives that will never die.
I love these stories. I love that Harry is not perfect and he deals with things my students and my friends (and me) deal with. Bullies like Draco, family like the Durseys, terrible teachers like Snape, these are things we all have had or have now. So even though Harry flies on his broom and concocts magic potions, he is still accessable.
Yet, sometime all we want to do is disappear into a whole new time and place that is nothing like our everyday lives. Leave this world and these troubles to some place that time can be moved and everything changes with a flick of your wand. When you read these stories you can see yourself in a castle fighting dragons and dancing by floating candle light. Sometimes losing yourself in this world makes your world a little better and easier to deal with. We have all had times in our lives when everything is awful and it doesn't matter if you're in 3rd grade or 13 years in the work force, it still can be awful. To me, books are an escape that I learned early on but is lost on the students of today. Sure video games can take you away, but not like a book can, at least that is my opinion. Harry Potter showed that to many people who I know will be forever grateful. Just look at all those fan sites if you don't believe me.
What I appreciate most about these stories is the magic. I miss believing in magic and feeling like there is something more to what you see. I am lucky enough to live close and visited the Harry Potter World at Universal multiple times. Most times, theme parks disappoint me in their theming. Let me explain, I love movies and have all my life. I always wanted to be in the movie; not an actress playing a part but to actually be in that moment in the story. Now, don't get me wrong I am a Disney girl thru and thru but Universal does an excellent job putting me in the scenes of the movie. I was giddy at 13 going there for the first time and actually seeing the town from Jaws, the deloran from Back to the Future, the bikes from ET. Well years later, it just hasn't been the same until Harry Potter World. They have done an amazing job on this place. If you haven't been, you are in Hogsmead, you are in the town's stores, you are in the castle and seeing the world you read about. The magic is there in front of you and if only for a moment, you get that feeling again; that maybe, just maybe, there is something else out there that you can't see and that can make anything happen.
As an educator, I will always appreciate stories that get students excited, but if I can enjoy that story as well, that's what I really love. Sure the Goosebump stories and Captain Underpants are great, but they're not on the top of my To Read list. Harry Potter books were not just children's stories, they are great novels with interesting, attention keeping, character investing, plots that everyone wants to read. Kid's books don't have to be dumb, watered down same old same old that teachers have to force their students to read. They don't have to focus on "those darn kids" archetypes or Nancy Drew good girls who don't have any character flaws and wrap everything up neatly with a bow. They don't have to be all boogers and fart jokes either. They can deal with terrible things like death and facing insurmountable obstacles and still be enjoyable. That's what the Harry Potter books have done and continue to do for children's lit. It can be exciting and epic and wonderful and reach so many people at so many points in their life. And if I can pass that message to my students, that there are good worthy stories out there that are worth your time, than that's the kind of teacher I'm trying to be.
Thank you for these stories. They will live on long past any of us and Harry Potter will always be the boy who lives on.
Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)