I first started reading Harry Potter when I was 11 years old. My teacher at the time used to take 15 minutes to half an hour each afternoon before the end of the day to read a chapter or two from a book until it was done. One day, she brought in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
I wouldn’t know it for a few years still, but the 2 weeks it took for my teacher to read us that first Harry Potter novel would change my life- and surely the lives of several of my classmates. We had officially been introduced to the phenomenon that was the wizarding world of Harry Potter. I was no longer a person, I was a muggle. Or was I simply a witch, but had yet to receive my Hogwarts letter? I had never in my life felt so certain that an alternate reality could potentially exist. If it was so secret, maybe that’s why I had never heard of it?
I totally forgot how tiny they were when the movies first came out!
And so began 10 years of waiting, reading, waiting, and reading. Each year I eagerly anticipated Harry’s next year and next adventure. I had never so desperately needed to own books before, needed to be a part of this growing community of readers. Maybe that’s when I even really fell in love with reading; when I started to become the reader that I am today.
I know that I’m only one person among millions (and millions and millions) who has had a different life because of Harry, Ron, Hermione and all their witch & wizard friends. I was never the fan who dressed up for events and who went to all the midnight showings of the movies, but you can bet I had some of the very first printed editions when each new book in the series came out. I devoured them like there was no tomorrow, allowing them to become part of who I am today.
I’ve also enjoyed going to see all of the movies, and maybe now that I’m old enough I can start collecting them. The first one was a really magical moment for me, but the last few I let slip away, maybe taking it for granted that they were still being made, that Emma, Rupert and Dan were still acting out the characters that I loved so much on paper. Today, people have seen the final movie. One day soon I will too, ending the biggest part of my life that any series of books has ever taken up. I think I’ve taken it a lot better than many other fans across the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that I genuinely feel like I’m growing up a little. Sure, I’ll be re-reading the entire series within the next few months (and many times after this) but there won’t be any more anticipation and excitement for what’s next.
Still, I’m so happy and so proud. Part of me grew up with Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. I’m so ridiculously proud of three people I’ve never met, who have brought to life three characters that meant the world to me growing up. I spent my days locked up with the pages of Harry Potter, devouring every single new word. Even though the movies were slightly different, I know that those actors poured their heart and soul into the last ten years- much like I loved these 7 books as I read them. I don’t think there is any other series that will ever begin to match up to this one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the words of J.K Rowling herself: “No story lives unless someone wants to listen. So thank you, all of you. The stories we love best do live in us forever. Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you back home.”