Sunday, August 9th, 2015...9:56 pm

Reading Harry Potter for the First Time

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Before this summer, I had never read Harry Potter.

I’m a book lover. A story lover. An avid reader. But for the past 19 years, when someone has asked me what I thought of Harry or what house I’d be in, I’d have to admit that I had never cracked open a Harry Potter book.

This has earned me some pretty strange looks and some declarations of not understanding me at all. How could I never have read these books?

I did it on purpose. Well, sort of. The first book came out when I was in college. As an English major, maybe I should have quickly jumped on the Harry Potter band-wagon, but I didn’t. I let myself stay immersed in 19th century fiction – my favorite. I had no time for Harry.

I graduated from college and started teaching students who, of course, had read Harry. They loved them and talked about them so much and I started to feel like I didn’t really need to read them. I was, in my 20s, not that interested in Harry Potter.

But then I had kids. And that’s when I started to not read Harry Potter on purpose.

“You haven’t read Harry Potter!” people would gasp and choke in shock as I admitted this glaring hole in my reading history.

“I’m waiting to read it with Nora and Miles,” I would tell them.

There were plenty of stories from my childhood that I couldn’t and still can’t wait to pass on. Reading Charlotte’s Web with Nora felt like reading it for the hundredth and the first time. I read it many times as a child, but I had never read it as a mother. I quickly passed on my love of Ramona as she ventured into reading chapter books. And I can’t wait to give her Judy Blume when the time is right.

But it seemed somehow even more special to be able to discover a story together. For me to experience a new tale along with her, to talk as readers do – ask questions, make predictions, grow attached to characters for the first time. So I saved Harry Potter on my bookshelf until we were all ready.

Today we read about the Sorting Hat and Harry’s amazing flying skills.  Miles listened here and there, but Nora is all in.  We cuddled up on the couch and in my bed and read for so long my voice hurts. And neither of us wanted to stop. We will both dream of flying on brooms and portraits with people who don’t stay put. We will dream of hidden monsters and blooming friendships, of giants and wizards and spells. And neither of us knows what is going to happen.

Harry Potter Quiz

At dinner I let her take her first internet quiz. To Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong? She answered the questions, which were slightly complicated for her, and she came out with Hufflepuff. She was disappointed even though the description of being a good, kind friend and worrying about others should have made her feel good. No. She wanted to be in Gryffindor just like Harry. She passed me the computer to take the quiz (I got Ravenclaw) and to her dad (He ended up with Gryffindor) and then she even tried to make Miles take it. When he wouldn’t cooperate she filled in answers for him and insisted he would be in Slitherin.

And this is why I waited, I thought as I watched her talk about each house as if she could really just go there tomorrow. Because reading Harry Potter was never supposed to be about the magic of my childhood. Reading Harry Potter is supposed to be about finding the magic in the childhoods unfolding right before my eyes.

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6 Comments

  • I loved reading HP with my son…and then watching him as he listened to the books over and over and over on CD, and finally, when he could, he read them to himself. I still have every single volume and every single CD. Some day I may just read them again, to remember the magic of his childhood all over again.
    Jennifer Wolfe recently posted…A Smart, Slow Start for GraduatesMy Profile

  • i started reading Harry Potter to my 7 year old Nora and her 5 year old sister recently too – also for my first time which surprised many of my fellow book loving friends. I agree it’s been magical and exciting for all of us – including my husband as we’ve read it as a family by our outdoor fireplace. It’s also been great to watch Nora challenge herself and sneak off to read ahead of me 🙂

  • Ok first of all did Nora take the pottermore quiz or just a Buzzfeed quiz because it may not count until she takes Pottermore. Although you’re definitely a Ravenclaw, don’t worry about retaking.

    Second- I loved every sentence of this blog and honestly it’s everything I dreamed sharing Harry with my nonexistent children would be. What a thrill and privilege to watch someone discover this magic. It made me a little teary eyed.

    Third- you’re calling it Harry. Welcome to the club. Y’all are gonna love it here.

    Ps Ben is totally (proud to be) Slytherin so she’s maybe not off with Miles. They’re a cunning bunch.
    Pps Should we do a special book club HP edition? I will reread.

  • I’m so excited to start reading Harry Potter with my kids! I figured we’d start when Miles is 7 and Nora is 5. Then when baby Grant is old enough, the older two can help me read it to him.

    I didn’t start reading the books myself until I was in college, when my little sister was talking about how excited she was for the release of the third book. I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband, brother, sister and I attended the book launches for books 5-7 and then stayed up all night reading them afterwards.

    I hope my kids like them as much as I do! I think my Miles would probably be in Griffindor. My Nora, however, would probably fit right in in Slytherin. 🙂

  • I didn’t start reading HP until the 4th book, so going through book 1 with my girls now is new to me too. Rachel and Claire aren’t THAT into it, but Zoe loves to lay in my lap and listen while I read. And I think they may be picking up on more than I think.
    Leigh Ann recently posted…some stuff: tell it to my heart editionMy Profile

  • I’m sorry to be late to the posting party on this post! Oh my, I wonder if I will be able to sneak in reading Harry to her kids before she does?????

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