As readers we are always able to look back fondly at a book or series that we felt we grew up with. It could range from the picture books you read as a kid (Berenstain Bears for the win!) or the first chapter books that you remember getting lost in (Little House books!). Whatever that book or series may be, you hold a special place for it. As an adult you may collect it, and eventually hope to pass that love down to the children in your life (your own children, nieces, nephews, etc). While I was a very avid reader as a child, knocking out the Little House books at a pretty young age, I can honestly say that I grew up Harry Potter.
Shocking right? What "millennial" (blech, I hate that word but I am technically classified as one) hasn't said that they grew up Potter and that Harry Potter was life, but it's the truth. I grew up Potter and I am not ashamed.
When we say we grew up with this series I think that we all mean it a little differently. Some started reading it the day it came out in 1997. Now, let me tell you, my parents would not have let their 8 year old read Harry Potter. They were unsure about it and I don't blame them. There was a lot of talk about the magic and what it would do to children, and I don't think they were wrong at all to wait. I don't think I was quite ready then. Thanks for being a bit strict about it mom and dad, I wasn't fully prepared for Harry Potter.
Others who say that they have grown up Harry Potter refer to the movies. As a child who did get into this series around the same time as the release of the 1st movie I must say, I get it. I didn't start reading it because of the movie, but I can see the appeal. How many times do we see a TV show or movie and decide we want to look further into it? I do this all the time. But no, this is not how my journey with Harry Potter started.
I started reading Harry Potter in 2000, right before Goblet of Fire came out. I remember it well. My dad had finally said we could maybe read it, if my mom read it first and approved (and that's how my mom got suckered into the series). This became the rule of the house. My mom always had to read the book before we did so that she could make sure it was appropriate for us (eventually I think she just started using that rule so that she got the book first...). I was pretty excited. I remember starting this series because this was also the year that I stopped being home-schooled and started public school. I was definitely nervous and not fully sure I wanted to start this new part of my life, but I started to feel like I was doing the same thing as Harry (minus being at Hogwarts) and looked on this as a new adventure.
The more I read the more I found that I could relate to this young boy. I started to match up to him in ages as the books started taking a little bit longer to release. I found an escape when I was still trying to figure things out. I found friends, and honestly felt a little more comfortable with being out in this new experience because of Harry. Even though Harry is fighting for the school and against Voldemort he also experienced a lot of the same adolescence that I was going through.
And then...came The Order of the Phoenix.
Now, at this point we knew without a shadow of a doubt that we wanted to continue on with this series. Because we were so sure of this we pre-ordered books from that point on. There was no way we would be able to wait on the library hold list. WE NEEDED THE BOOKS RIGHT AWAY! You know the feeling.
The Order of the Phoenix is the first book I remembered crying in. I started to relate to something way more than I had ever even imagined that I would; the loss of a loved one. This book has been out for 13 years now, do I still need to hide who died here? I mean you have either seen the movies or read the books right? Well...the death of Sirius hit me hard. At this point in my life I was getting close to the 1 year anniversary of my dad's death. I think that was the moment that I found I related to Harry the most as he watched his beloved guardian die. Now, let me get this straight...my dad was not killed by a death eater. His death was due to cancer, but even so...I understood. I understood the hurt and the pain and the need to try to make it better even though there's no way to really do that. I could relate and I felt a little less alone.
In 2003 I really felt like I understood Harry. And in 2003 I become 150% more invested in reading his adventures in bringing good to the world and defeating Lord Voldemort.
2007, the year the last book was released...well, that was the year I graduated high school. I read as Harry and his friends fought for their lives, and then I watched as their lives started all over. At that same time I felt like my life was starting all over. I wasn't necessarily going to the college that I had intended to at that point, but it was still a whole new world. I felt like I ended an era with Harry.
Obviously there were still the movies at that point, which I deeply enjoyed, but I grew up Potter. I grew up with the books. Harry Potter was there for a lot of tough situations in my life, and I am so happy for that.
So naturally, I have been like a kid at Christmas lately. Seeing new books by JK Rowling, a play, a new movie series to look forward to. I am so excited to get to be treated to this world again; a world that gave me temporary relief from the real world when I needed it most.
I grew up Potter! Did you?
What book or series do you feel like you grew up with?
Published by Emily Nelson