I remember the first time I was introduced to Harry Potter. On the way down to an amusement park (I believe it was Busch Gardens) my parents played the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. At this point, Sara was super into the books, but I was only just beginning to understand their magic (what are you going to do about that pun? NOTHING.). I don’t really remember how I felt when I first heard the story, because I was so young, but I do know I had been giving something amazing. When my parents bought me the second book to read, I was happy, but also determined not to read it. The first one was so good, that there was no way that the second could measure up.
Of course I got over that quickly and ended up sneakily reading Chamber of Secrets under my desk at school. So began my epic journey into the magical world of Hogwarts. From that point on, I was Harry Potter trash. My mind was constantly filled with the characters, imagining scenes that were never described in the books or reliving my parts parts. It was a rich world that got deeper and more exciting with each new book. It became a part of my daily routine, as my mother and I read Goblet of Fire together each night. One of my favorite stories took place on the release day of Order of the Phoenix. After waiting impatiently for three years, the newest volume finally arrived on our doorstep, a smiling mailman knowing exactly what he was delivering. Sara and I called our parents to let them know what had arrived and if we could open the package; once we got their consent I quickly hung up on my dad. We then decided to start reading at the same time on the count of three, and right as we said “three” together, the phone rang again, my dad wondering what all the yelling was about.
When I think about it, I don’t think I can really pinpoint why I fell in love with Harry Potter or why it remains so important to me. But I think it continues to have such an impact on my life because it was such a big part of my life in a very consistent way. The movies were beginning to come together while the books were still coming out, creating more excitement and a new way to experience the story. It only fueled my already ardent passion for these books. And because the plot and the world is so rich, there was something new to discover with every new read. On the weekends, I would spend hours on the internet, scouring fan websites for new information or reading fan theories. I even read some of the first iterations of Harry Potter fanfiction. I couldn’t get enough, and honestly I still can’t get enough. It doesn’t matter that I have the plots memorized-I will still reread them whenever I have the chance.
Really, I just love everything about it. I love Harry and how sarcastic and witty he is. He is a great, wonderful kid who grows into a great, wonderful man who just wants to destroy evil and live a normal life. Ron and Hermione are my ultimate OTP (one true pairing, for those not averse to TUMBLR), a couple that grew up together and helped each other to be the best people they can be. These characters taught me what it means to be a friend and a hero, what it means to be loyal and focused and dedicated. It was an integral part of my childhood and growing up. These characters were with me every step of the way. As I watched Harry become himself, I started to understand what kind of person I wanted to be.
I’m so excited and happy that this love I have for the boy wizard has only gotten stronger with age, and not just for me, but for most of the first generation of Harry Potter fans. We’ve found ways to reimagine the story while still staying true to the original message. We’ve expanded the whole world with the help and blessing of our queen and creator Jo Rowling. It’s allowed for so many kids to find connections and love where they hadn’t before and it changed the children’s literature landscape forever.
When Sara came to visit me while I was studying abroad, we went on the Leavesden Studio tour, where they filmed the movies. During the entire time I spent wandering the sets, looking at the costumes and props and story art, I was filled with a nostalgia that broke my heart. Before you start the tour, they bring you into a movie theater where they show you a video about the impact of Harry Potter around the world. As I watched millions of kids chant, “It’s real for us!” I teared up and fell in love with Harry all over again.
Thanks to tumblr user fiendfyred for the images!