Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived.
In the last 20 years the literary world, particularly the world inhabited by avid children and teenager readers, has changed dramatically. Whilst I don’t want to downplay amazing authors such as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl (I honestly don’t think I can downplay them – they are awesome), J.K. Rowling opened up a new world of possibilities when she introduced Harry James Potter to the masses.
My 13 year old self was introduced to Harry Potter by my lovely English teacher, who was encouraging us to read all the books shortlisted for the Carnegie Award that year. As an already enthusiastic reader, this was not a problem for me but i’m sure you can imagine some of the groans that were rumbling around that classroom. That year however, those groans quickly disappeared as people argued over the copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone that was circulating the class. At that age I was quick to devour any books that I could get my hands on (often having to be vetted by my parents as they weren’t always age appropriate!), and Harry Potter was no different. Actually no, Harry Potter was different. Harry, Ron and Hermione opened up a world like no other – one that I don’t think anyone expected. From that point onwards I, like the many millions across the world, was hooked. My (now) husband faithfully queued with me at midnight in 2005 and again in 2007 as I eagerly awaited the release of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince and then Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, knowing full well that I would not be sleeping until I’d finished them (secretly he was glad, because he knew he’d get his hands on them the next day without having to admit that he wanted to read them too).
I’ve spent many years being a little uncool because I love to read (the year I read Dracula whilst on a girly holiday to Magaluf sticks in my mind), however J.K. Rowling introduced a world that everyone wants to be a part of. I love books, and I love the fact that you can disappear into a different world, if only for a short time. Very few books however remain with you for quite as long as these seven books have. For me, Harry Potter was part of my teenage years and early twenties. What amazes me however, is that their longevity has meant that they continue to mean something, even now, 20 years on. My 10 year old son has his copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone ready to read (once he’s finished the Percy Jackson series, obviously), and he’s excited to read it. A new generation of fans is emerging with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – my other 10 year old son is less of a reader than his brother but he is enthralled with the wizarding world that he has discovered on the big screen, even buying himself Newt Scamanders wand at our recent trip the Warners Bros Studio Tour. Not only has J.K. Rowling opened up this amazing wizarding world to us all, but she also created a whole generation of readers who can’t get enough of these fantastical universes in which they can immerse themselves. Authors have found themselves with young readers who can’t get enough of their creations – Veronica Roth, Stephanie Meyer and Rick Riordan to name but a few.
Thanks to Harry, Ron and Hermione we now have a whole range of strong characters across a number of genres who show our children just what they can achieve if they really try. I am proud to be part of the Harry Potter generation, and I am proud that my children are becoming fans of the wizarding world.
I will however always be a little disappointed when another birthday passes me by without the arrival of my Hogwarts acceptance letter.