The next Harry Potter movie is opening tonight at midnight. (I prefer an hour when I won't sleep through the show, so I'll wait a few days to see it.) The movies are never as good as the books, but I have to see them anyway. It has been fun watching the Harry Potter phenomenon. A whole generation of kids actually read again. And J.K. Rowling can take partial credit for that. (Stephanie Meyer and her Twilight series has done a lot to make reading cool with the High School crowd.)
I fought the Harry Potter craze for awhile. Then one year at Christmas the nieces and nephews were discussing Quidditch. I had no idea what they were talking about, so I asked. The W.P. (West Point) nephew was probably a 4th grader at the time. He looked at me, sniffed, and said, "Hmmm... Muggle!" It suddenly occurred to me that pretty soon I was going to have a whole classroom full of kids who would make allusions to Harry Potter and I would have no idea what they were talking about. And if W.P was going to call me a muggle, I was going to find out what a muggle was! (By the way, a muggle is a non magical person. And yes, I am or at least was a non magical person.)
I bought the first book. Sixty pages in, I wasn't that impressed. But something happened in the next 40-50 pages, and I was sucked into the Harry Potter web. I am a fan. The books are all about love: love that protects us, love that guides us, and love that will always be with us. Goodness always triumphs. But beyond that, the books are funny, challenging for kids, and exciting.
When my colleague talks about "He Who Shall Not Be Named" every time a former colleague's name is mentioned, I know that even his name is painful and brings back a lot of unpleasant memories. Students learn vocabulary. (Professor Umbrage will always help students to remember the definition of umbrage.) So many books for kids are deadly dull for adults. Harry Potter is a great book for parents and their kids to read together. They are as amusing and fun for adults as they are for kids. As each book came out, I joined the kids at the local bookstore to wait for my copy. (Sometimes fairly late at night!) And like the 4th, 5th & 6th graders across the country, I spent the next few days completely absorbed with reading the latest book. (Who am I kidding? The high school and college crowd were as excited about the books as anyone!) I was sad when I finished the last book. Rowling did a great job of ending the series, but I hated to see the end of the saga.
Later this week, I will be in a movie theater (milk duds anyone?) to watch "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." It won't be as good as the book, and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to drag the Mr. there, but for a couple of hours I can get lost in the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter and friends.