When I was in fourth grade, Ms. Savage had reading time every day after lunch. Sometime in the fall she decided to read a novel that was gaining a lot of popularity called Harry Potter. Honestly, I was bored. I asked her for permission to finish the book on my own for the quizzes so I could read whatever I wanted during that time once I was done. She agreed.
I finished the book in just a few days, but loved it by the end. I devoured the first three installments before the class had even finished the first. No series of books (and I’ve read a few) has captured my mind and heart quite like this one. I had no idea I would be forever changed by 4th grade reading time, but I was. Over the years, I’ve probably spent more time walking through the halls of Hogwarts and battling evil wizards than most other places.
When I set the goal to re-read the series earlier this year, I figured I would slowly work my way through the audiobooks over 12 months. What I didn’t anticipate is how much my soul longed to revisit a place I loved so much. I devoured them, finishing all seven before the end of February.
Here were some thoughts and insights from this re-reading:
I am in awe with how masterfully J.K. Rowling wove a story over so many pages and years that was coherent, dropped clues, had big reveals, and ultimately all led to the same place. Her world was vibrant, her characters equal parts interesting and relate-able. I don’t think I fully appreciated her brilliance in my youth.
While listening to the sequence of the Knight Bus in Book 3, it struck me that when I first encountered this book, I’d never been to England. And yet, as I read it this time, so much of the chapter reminds me of bus rides on narrow streets and chatty bus drivers that I’ve had whilst traveling in England in my young adulthood. It was a good reminder of how much each reader brings to a text of their own experiences.
Having not read these as an adult, I found myself identifying with adult characters in a new way. Sometimes with compassion and empathy, sometimes with judgement. One example is my utter loathing of Severus Snape. I understand why he has a grudge against Harry, but his treatment of him and Hermione left me with little pity. No one deserves to be treated that way, and especially not adults who wield power over children in that way.
And lastly, (for now) what I love about Harry Potter is that even though the books become bleaker and bleaker as they progress, with Voldemort coming back and then growing in power–with loads of death and torture, it’s all about the power of hope and love to combat overwhelming evil. As my world seems to become bleaker with each passing day, it’s a good reminder that we can find light in the darkness. I love the example of Dumbledore and Harry and Ginny. When faced with an insurmountable challenge, they gathered those that they trusted and loved to fight back. They were strategic about their timing, but they weren’t passive in their response.