What Harry Potter Means to Me

What Harry Potter Means to Me

I can remember buying my first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I was probably eight or nine years old, and was in New Hope with my mom, my brother, and a couple of our friends.  I came home that day with two new books, which were the “toys” I always preferred, to be honest.  I can’t remember how Harry Potter had made it into the cart next to Falling Up by Shel Silverstein; most likely, my mom had heard other mothers talking about it, and had decided it was something I should try.

When I didn’t start reading the book on my own – instead, my brother and I liked to make fun of the title of the first chapter, The Boy Who Lived – my mom started reading it to us.  Each night before bed, we’d crawl into her’s and my dad’s bed, and listen to her read “just one more chapter” of the book.

As each new book was released, my mom would take my brother and I to Barnes & Noble at midnight, even when she had to be at work at 7AM the next day, to get the book as soon as we could.  When the movies started coming out, it was the same thing – going to see the movies at midnight, no matter who had school or work the next day.

In ways that I don’t think my mom ever anticipated when she put that first book into our shopping cart, these books brought us together, and taught my brother and I lessons that I doubt we ever could have learned in school or from any other book we had read, because these books stuck with us.  The lessons – the friendships and the morals and the meaning – that we took away from these books are ones I never would have remembered if Cinderella or Barney had been teaching them.

The series was so much more to my childhood than seven books and eight movies.  It was more than magic and dragons and fairies.  More even than best friends, and learning who I wanted to be, although these are all things that the books absolutely did.  These books were a piece of my childhood, and of who I am today; and honestly, they’re a connection between me and almost my entire generation.  Thousands of now-men and women who grew up with The Boy Who Lived.  Who have attended midnight release screenings, read and re-read and dog-eared their books.  Have created spinoffs and have had real, intelligent conversations about a series of books that from first glance, are simply about magic.

I’ve always loved books, and I bristle at the thought of banning any story or novel.  But somehow, I get defensive when I hear people claiming that these books will harm their children, probably because I know what these books did for me, and I know the magic they still bring when I pick one of them up.  I can’t imagine a life without them, and certainly not one in which they are banned or considered evil.

  • http://exactlyjess.ca/ Jess @ Exactly, Jess

    I remember the first HP book was read to me in 3rd grade and I fell in love with it. The entire series is so uplifting! It taught me bravery, friendship, ethics, and it’s so amazing that these fictional characters is inspirational to kids and young adult that carries these life lessons with them.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Yes! All those things, and I think so much more that I can’t quite articulate. I honestly don’t know what I’d be like without these books.

  • http://thethingsiamcrazyfor.wordpress.com/ Camila

    I so completely agree! So many amazing lessons taught by these wonderful books and so many fond memories and bonding with friends on this topic! If someone is afraid of the bad consequences this book will have on their children, they are clearly speaking with ignorance and never read them! It’s a wonderful adventure to embark on that journey with Harry and his friends and I would recommend it to everyone, young and old!

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I agree – these books just hold so many amazing lessons in them, and to say “well there’s MAGIC and that’s EVIL” is just so incredibly closed-minded.

  • Kristen Warren

    the books will harm their children?! wtf?! books will never harm. EVER. even if you are reading a book on how to kill people, the act of reading is amazing and wonderful and essential. and harry potter is effing awesome. i was about 13 i think when i read the first 4 in one hit. loved them then, loved them now.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Exactly! And I guess at least this woman isn’t trying to have the books banned – like if you don’t want your children to read it, then fine. But don’t take it away from other children because of your closed-minded beliefs based on information you don’t even know first-hand. I just don’t understand how anyone can have anything against these books – there’s nothing in them even slightly inappropriate.

  • http://www.sweetcatastropheblog.blogspot.com/ Diane

    Such a great story! What an amazing connection you have with the books and your family! And I completely agree books never harm!!

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Thanks, Diane!

  • http://www.thesiberianamerican.com Olya

    I love how the books became bonding time for you and your family. I grew up with Harry Potter-the characters were always the same age as me when the new books came out, and the last book came out the summer I graduated from high school. (Actually Daniel Radcliffe and I were born on the same day, Haha!) I can’t believe anyone thinks they should be banned (or any story for that matter).

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Ahhh that’s so coool!!! And I know – I’m so against ANY books being banned, but I can’t even see WHY people want to ban HP.

  • http://www.kaseyatthebat.com Kasey Decker

    I love this! I still remember how I was introduced to the first book, the first chapter was read to us right before we were allowed to go to the book fair. I was hooked too. Now my youngest brother is being bullied at school, so I talked him into reading the series and that even the Chosen One was bullied. Since he’s started reading the series, he’s been more self confident and outgoing.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I love that the books have been able to do that for people! There is just so much more to them than a fantasy series.

  • http://www.kaysbestintentions.blogspot.com/ Kay Stoll

    I love this so much! So elegantly written, by the way! So much of my childhood is wrapped up in those pages and I remember growing up with Emma, Rupert, and Dan in the movies. The final book was released just says before I started my Senior year of High School and I vividly remember my friends and I (complete with the stars of the boy’s basketball team, our two valedictorians, the drum major, and the prom queen) reading that final book at the same time and talking about it for days and weeks after we had finished. It brought so many different people together. Love, love JK Rowling for that.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Thank you so much, Kay!
      And I agree – I can’t remember a time without HP in my life (as ridiculous as that sounds). It’s like this common ground for so many of us.

  • http://www.thegritsblog.com/ The Grits

    YESSS!! Harry Potter is my favorite too!! So much of my growing up revolved around it. My divorced when I was young and it was one of the only things that gave me hope -that made me feel like, eventually, it would all be okay.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m glad it was able to do that for you! I always feel like books are this amazing way of escaping and growing, and HP was such a great series for that!

  • http://nomad-notebook.blogspot.co.uk/ Lizzy

    I also feel a childhood attachment to them! Although i only read the first couple of books (they’re still on my ‘to read’ list after all these years!), i was captivated by the story of the first book. I just wish i had been that little bit older when they were first released- i found them quite challenging as i was only in primary school when the philosophers stone first came out and i managed to get it from the tiny school library. I think it put me off pursuing the other books as i found them that little bit too difficult to read on my own. Saying that though, i found the story truly magical (no pun intended) and feel incredibly lucky to have grown up with such an amazing series!

    Lizzy at Nomad Notebook

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Ahhh oh my gosh, I hope you read the rest of them ASAP! Even if you already know the endings, they’re just such incredible books to read! I definitely don’t know if I could have read them on my own, as I was only in I think 1st or 2nd grade when the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s) came out. My mom read the first couple books to my brother and I, and I think that not only did that get me hooked on the books, it made me love reading even more (I’ve ALWAYS loved reading), and built this great bond between us.

  • Amalah

    Harry Potter to me is hard to express in a couple of words, it makes me want to laugh, cry, wonder be angry and so much more. I did not grow up with the series like a lot of other Harry Potter fans, it was always around. As a little kid that’s what I would pray that it would come on. Harry Potter taught me that’s its okay not to be popular and if I don’t have a lot of money that’s ok to. I learned to be kind to others (Luna), to be smart (Hermione), its okay to be afraid (Ron), and to try and be brave (Harry), its ok to have fun in school (Weasley twins) I also learned to be understanding (Dumbledore). Harry Potter is a place that I can relate to, a lot of people think that its just about the magic honestly its not. Everything about it is so unique and has inspired me to chase after my dreams and to be a writer. Overall what I’m trying to say is Thank you.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I completely agree that there’s no way to sum up Harry Potter or how great the series was. It’s something you need to experience for yourself, I think, as dorky as that sounds to say about a series of books. But you’re right – each character taught us something, which is one of the things I love. The series could easily have been like here’s Harry Potter, and these are just his friends/sidekicks. But it wasn’t. They all had a huge part in the books, and without them it wouldn’t have been the same, which I absolutely love!

  • http://www.lifeplus1.me/ Lifeplus1

    What a cool topic for a post. And I love how you have such beautiful memories (like waiting in line with your bro).

    I had never heard of people saying that the books would ‘harm a child’. That’s absurd! Why must people be so extreme?

    Beautiful post. :o)


    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Oh gosh, I went to Catholic school – my school actually banned the books, and I knew people whose parents wouldn’t let them read them. Censorship drives me crazy no matter what, but I never even understood it with HP.