The Harry Potter series recently turned 20 years old, and something about that to me is incredible. This series is almost as old as I am. And when I think back to my childhood, most of what I remember is Harry Potter.
I started on the series listening to my mom read it to me when I was about five, and then I fell asleep listening to Jim Dale read the audio-book version until I was well into my teens. I still listen to them now, if I really need to knock out.
And from my ninth birthday to my thirteenth, I went to see the movies as my birthday party. It was devastating to me when they stopped coming out in November and started coming out in the summer.
What was I going to do for my birthday if not watch a new movie of my favorite thing ever?
I went to the midnight release of the seventh book, got my copy at 12:02, and finished reading at 3:45 AM, after having had to stop reading for about 45 minutes because I was sobbing that the series that had changed my life was over.I wouldn't be who I am today without Harry Potter. Click To Tweet
I wouldn’t be who I am today without Harry Potter. I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, but there was something special about this series. At this point, I think I’ve reread the whole series in its entirety around 14 to 15 times. And I never get sick of it. And now, when I reread the series, it’s like visiting with childhood best friends.
The time might have changed, but our relationship is entirely the same.
I was at just the right age to really feel the magic, too. By the time I was reading the books on my own, I was about seven or eight years old, which was old enough to really believe, at least for a time. I waited like so many other kids, on my eleventh birthday, for that letter. I thought for sure it would come; that Hogwarts, the Wizarding World, was where I belonged.
Obviously, the letter never came. And I grew up.
But somewhere in the foundation of my personality, it burrowed itself in and became a part of me. I could as easily tell you facts about the world of Harry Potter as I could facts about my own life. Liking this series is a fundamental part of who I am.
I saw myself in these characters. I saw myself in Hermione.
As someone who’s been called a know-it-all for most of her life, it was so nice to see how that can be a positive trait. And seeing how the Trio created a friendship based on mutual love and understanding and a loyalty that never wavered taught me how to be a friend. And they were my friends.
When I switched from private to public school at 10, I didn’t know anyone going in. But I always knew that I’d have Harry Potter to come back to and that Harry, Ron, and Hermione would be waiting for me.As someone who's been called a know-it-all, it was so nice to see how that could be a good thing. Click To Tweet
Harry Potter taught me how to be able to criticize the things I loved. Because I love this series, but I can still tell it is not without fault.
J.K. Rowling created one of the most incredible fictional worlds in this generation, but she is still just one person with one lived experience, and “Harry Potter” has influenced people all around the world. People have created a new layer to this world by putting out a call to action about how they interpret the Wizarding World. They’ve placed their own experiences onto the worldbuilding that was already there. People have created a layer where there is more religious diversity, more LGBTQIA+ representation beyond J.K. saying at a book reading that Dumbledore is gay.
But people do this because they love this book and this world. And at the end of the day, “books belong to their readers.” And reading who people have interpreted this world has helped me become a more aware person. I’ve become more aware of how more inclusivity is so important in fiction.
People want to see characters like themselves. And with the Harry Potter universe, people can write endless ways to fit themselves into this magical world where they are sure they belong.I grew up believing that magic could be real, and I could make it for myself. Click To Tweet
I recently went to London when I was abroad, and my friend and I stopped at King’s Cross Station. It was simultaneously nothing and everything I expected. The line to take the stereotypical photo at Platform 9 and 3/4 was too long for us to get one, as our train to the airport was leaving relatively soon. But I remember seeing that silly, movie set photo-op, and feeling this warm feeling inside.
I’m one of the millions of people who grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
I grew up believing that magic could be real, and I could make it for myself.
Seeing how happy everyone was by being there, at that silly half-cart with the scarves that have piping in them to make them look like they’re blowing in the wind, made me realize how much this series has changed the world. Being at Platform 9 and 3/4 made me feel like I was going home.
Because, like J.K. Rowling said at the premiere of the eighth movie, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
And it has, for the past twenty years.
For me, it will forever.