What where you doing on June 26th 1997?
On June 26th 1997 the Who Lived was born. A literary phenomenon swept across the world and into the hearts and homes of children everywhere. Not only did Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Philosophers Stone and its subsequent books effect the publishing world in the years after, but it changed the minds and lives of those children who grew to love the motley crew that came to life in the pages. I was one of those children. Now I know that this was supposed to be a post on how Harry Potter shaped my reading experience but as I was writing I realized something; Harry Potter has touched my life in more ways that just my reading experiences afterwards. It has shaped many of the things that I am today. So, I want to share all of it, not just the reading part.
I didn’t find Harry Potter on my own. It might surprise some of you but Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a required book for us to read in school. I know, weird right? If only all of the required reading for school was this exciting right? I remember being intrigued by the book and the premise but at the ripe old age of 8, I wasn’t convinced that reading was my thing.
Boy was I wrong.
I devoured Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in a matter of days and couldn’t help but pick up each and every book afterwards. I had to wait awhile between books because at that time they were still being published (this fact makes me feel really old). Books 2 and 3 didn’t take as long to come out as the 5th one did (I think that this was setting me up for being able to wait for George R.R Martin).
But how did the series as a whole affect me? There are so many ways that I can say but there are three main reasons:
- It gave me my love of reading. Honestly, without this series I don’t know how long, if ever, I would have become the reader that I am today. Even if I had not read Harry Potter I still might have liked reading but maybe I wouldn’t have loved fantasy as much as I do. I fell in love with not only reading but the genre and magic became real to me. To this day, I feel like my letter just got lost in the mail and someday, someday it will come.
- In a roundabout way, this series is the reason I wanted to teach and to eventually become a librarian. This book being not only recommended but required to read opened my eyes as an adult to the importance of the influence adults have on not only the books that students read but their eventual love or hate of reading in general.This has lead me to my future career (and current one) in becoming a teacher and librarian. I want to help someone find their Harry Potter and fall in love with not only that story but with reading. With the release of the illustrated editions of Harry Potter I hope to reach even my own children who are too young to actually care about the other editions (who doesn’t love a good illustrated book).
- I found an escape of the world that I was living in. I lived in a single parent household and my dad worked all of the time. But yes, I said my dad. So you can imagine in that situation and all the comic relief that could spawn from that situation. The saddest thing was that I didn’t have a female role model let alone Harry Potter, specifically Hermione Granger, made me be okay with myself. She was the first character in a book that I really related with and saw myself in her. I was short, had puffy hair that wasn’t made better by the fact that my dad would cut it, but more importantly I was what was referred to as a teacher’s pet. I was that girl that people laughed at and thought was a snob. My perpetual shyness didn’t help convince my peers that I wasn’t, in all actuality it made it worse because they never got to know the real me. The fact that Hermione didn’t only find friends that liked her but she became vital to the survival to those friends was AMAZING!
Ultimately, the Harry Potter series is probably one of the most influential books of my generation and I am so glad that I was able to grow up right along with Harry and his friends. I hope to influence and help the next generation in finding their own Harry Potter.