Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Book that Started it All

Do you remember where you were when you read the first book in the Harry Potter series? I do. I didn't read the first book until it was out in paperback and I picked it up in the airport on the way home from a conference. It was love at first read! I still think the first book is my favorite. It was the first glimpse at the magical world of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and Hogsmeade.

I also remember watching the news the first time the midnight book release parties took place across the country. There was footage of kids and adults alike dressed up as their favorite characters standing in lines that went all the way around the building. I cried. I really did. I'm a reading teacher, you see, and there is nothing so beautiful and moving as watching hundreds of children across the country stand in line to get a book that is over 600 pages long. Bliss!

Somewhere around book 4, I started reading the books aloud to my son who was in third grade. It was so wonderful to see Harry Potter through Derek's eyes. I remember when the first movie came out and I asked him if he wanted to see it. He said no because he didn't want to lose the pictures in his mind. How fabulous is that?

But, of course, we did end up going to see the first movie, along with five or six of his best friends, all dressed up in their favorite characters. Experiencing the movie with a group of kids all gasping and complaining about certain parts being left out was so much fun.

Over the years, Derek and I continued to read the books out loud to each other. Neither of us could read a word without the other lest one know something that happened before the other. Harry Potter has brought us a unique experience that I will always treasure. And though I know the books will live on, as we prepare to attend the last movie tomorrow night at 12:01 am., it is hard to not feel a little sad for the next generation of Potter fans. It was really something to be a part of such a wonderful reading phenomenon. There won't be anymore book release parties or midnight movie madness. There won't be another time when everyone is reading the books at the same time.

I know other professors have written blog posts about how their college students are now at the age where they went through the Harry Potter phenomenon, too. This is true for me, too. Last year, almost all of my students had read all of the books, sometimes numerous times, and had seen all of the movies. Since I teach preservice teachers, it is wonderful that they have had such a great experience around reading and can share that experience with their future students.

Will there ever be another big reading phenomenon like Harry Potter in our lifetime? I don't know, but I certainly hope so. I can't wait to participate!

For those of you looking for more books like Harry Potter, NPR has an article titled, "3 Grown-up Books for the Hogwarts Grad,"and readers have made additional recommendations in the comments. What are some of your recommendations for the Harry Potter fan?

1 comment:

Mr. Hipple. said...

I love this post!

I actually started with Book 3 when it was given to me for my birthday. I flipped it open and read the whole thing sitting on the floor at my father's house. From then on out, I read every single one of those books in a single day. I can remember seeing the sun come up as I was finishing up the Goblet of Fire that I had gotten from my grandfather the previous evening. I think I must've read each of the first 4 books somewhere in the neighborhood of 15+ times. The movies never really did it for me, though. They always felt like the greatest hits versions of the book. Faithful, but lacking magic.

It's books like these that I wish I could erase my memory so I could experience it all again for the first time. I miss Harry Potter. :(