I’ve read all of the HP books and watched all of the movies. I joined Pottermore and was sorted into Hufflepuff. I WILL make it to the Wonderful Wizarding World before I leave this Earth! And I plan on rereading the entire series sometime in the near future. I won’t pretend I know everything about the HP universe, but I like to think I can get an A on most Harry Potter quizzes.
But I have a confession to make:
I didn’t actually read the whole series until after graduating from college. I finished reading the last HP book on my birthday 2 years back. This may not seem like a big deal to some people. I have plenty of friends who didn’t read any of the books and never plan on reading them. But it was a big deal to me!
I grew up during the Harry Potter craze. I was 7 when the first book was published in America. I remember watching the news and hearing the stories about the packed bookstores and the empty shelves. Many of my friends read the first book and talked about it during lunch time. I begged my parents to buy the books for me, partially so I could fit in with my friends. But I did have a genuine interest in the story.
My parents never bought the books for me. And I never received them as gifts, because my parents told their friends I wasn’t allowed to read the books. (This seems contradictory to my first post. But this was an exception, not the rule)
Why wasn’t I allowed to read this best-selling, award-winning series? Well, my parents didn’t want me to read a book that dealt with witchcraft.
Yes, I was that child who was denied the chance to read Harry Potter because I would probably learn a spell or two. And this was apparently a concern for many religious parents.
Sure the books are packed with magic, but the lessons people took away from the stories are much more important than learning how to cast a few spells. The series dealt with bullying, puberty, classism, death and redemption. For many young children, Harry Potter was their first mature book. It was their first glimpse into the ugliness of the real world. Harry Potter helped people get through some of the darkest times in their life. If there was a danger in the Harry Potter, it wasn’t that it would teach millions of children how to cast spells.
Do I blame my parents for letting me turn into a late Potterhead? No, not really. In fact, I thank them. I can’t think of any other time where they banned a book. And if they allowed me to read Harry Potter when I was young, I would never truly understand or appreciate the danger of book banning. No matter how raunchy or devious a book may seem, it contains a lesson. Books can find ugly in the beauty and beauty in the ugly and I think that makes people into better, more empathetic versions of themselves.
I’m proud of my Harry Potter late comer status, just like I’m proud of my Hufflepuff status! I learned at a young age that books are powerful. They force people to see a different viewpoint. Books are weapons that will stand the test of time, no matter how much protesting people do. No matter how late you are to a literary craze, just remember that the stories and characters will always be there, waiting to reveal their lessons to you.