A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Friday, July 15, 2011

I Left My Heart in Hogwarts....*

The Sorcerer's Stone (1997), The Chamber of Secrets (1998),
The Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), The Goblet of Fire (2000),
The Order of the Phoenix (2003),The Half-blood Prince (2005),
and The Deathly Hallows (2007)

When I’m 80 years old
and sitting in my rocking chair,
I’ll be reading Harry Potter.
And my family will say to me,
“After all this time?”
And I will say, “Always.”
–  Attributed to Alan Rickman,
the actor who portrays Professor Snape
in the Harry Potter movies
(but I'm pretty sure he wasn't really the one who said it)

I distinctly remember the very first time I ever opened up one of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books and began reading it.  My parents had given me the first three books in the series for Christmas in 1999.  While I appreciated the thought behind the gift, I had heard all the hoopla about the books, and convinced myself that they couldn't possibly be as good as everyone said they were.  I set them on my shelf and walked away. 

On Thanksgiving Day 2001, after I'd spent several hours (by myself) making a feast for our family, and then another hour or more (by  myself) cleaning up after the meal,  I was upset  and not feeling very thankful.  I retreated to my bedroom and shut the door, leaving my husband and kids to fend for themselves.  I slumped onto the bed.  I briefly considered taking a nap, but then my eyes were drawn towards the bookshelves.  I suddenly realized that I owned three books that I'd never read, never even opened.   It was something to do, so I grabbed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone off the shelf.  I flipped it open to the first page, and began to read.

From that very first sentence, I was a Harry Potter fan!  I eagerly read all three books over that holiday weekend, then couldn't wait to get my hands on the fourth!  (I used that year's Christmas money to buy myself  Goblet of Fire.)

By the time the fifth book came out, I had created another Harry Potter fan, someone who loved the books even more than I did -- my daughter, Emmalie.  She walked up to me one day, complaining of boredom, and saying that she didn't have any new books to read.  I handed her The Sorcerer's Stone.  She did not seem very interested in it -- like me a few years earlier, she thought all the Harry Potter hype was just that.  I said, "Trust me.  Just start reading, and see what you think."  As predicted, once Emm began reading, she couldn't put the book down.  She reads quickly (even faster than me), and soon had read all five books.

I checked the sixth book out from the library as soon as it was published so we could both devour it -- as only BookWyrms can :) -- and then Emmalie received a copy of the book for Christmas later that year.

By 2007, Emmalie and I were so anxious to read the final book that I agreed to wait in a HUGE bookstore line at midnight the day it came out.  I quickly drove home with my new copy of  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then began reading it right away, around 1am!  I read straight through the morning and afternoon until I had finished the very last sentence. (I did fall asleep for an hour or so at one point, book in hand, then woke up and immediately went back to reading!)  As soon as I'd finished it, I handed the book to Emm, and she read it straight through, as well.

Both of us have re-read all seven books several times.  Emmalie has even read each of them aloud to her brother, Nick.  We love the characters, the settings, and the adventures.  Emm is such a fan that she collects all kinds of Harry Potter memorabilia -- puzzles, costumes, stuffed animals, and more.  There is just something about the story that speaks to us, captivates us, and leaves us longing for more.

Though books are almost always MUCH better than their movies -- and J. K. Rowling's series is no exception -- our whole family has seen every Harry Potter movie.   We love the actors who were chosen to portray the characters, and we enjoy watching the stories play out on the big screen.  (Both Emmalie and I hate it when scenes are cut out or changed, however.)

With the last movie, "The Deathly Hallows, Part 2",  comes that same bittersweet feeling that we had when we read the last book.  We can't wait to see it (in fact, by the time this posts on my blog, Emm, Nick, and I will have already been to the midnight premiere), but we're also sad that the series has come to its end.  You can be sure, however, that we will return to Hogwarts again and again in the years to come -- in our re-reading of the books, in our re-watching of the movies, and in our dreams....

“The stories we love best
do live in us forever
so whether you come back by page
or by the big screen,
Hogwarts will always be there to
welcome you home.”
- J. K. Rowling

*For the younger generation -- like my daughter, who didn't understand the reference -- there is an old song called "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", and I was trying to mimic that. My heart, or at least a part of it, will always be in Hogwarts....


  1. Great Review! Our family has done the same thing with this series. I grew up with Star Wars and at least one of my children also loves that series. We loved Tolken and Narnia as well so this will be an end to another great series of family fun stories.

  2. I loved reading your post today Janelle. I think you have captured the thoughts & feelings of every Harry Potter fan!!!
    I didn't want to read the last book because I knew it was the end of the series, it was kind of bittersweet. But it is wonderful that we can go back to it over & over again!

  3. Thank you, David and Elaine! :)