I remember reading Harry Potter for the first time, somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade, and being absolutely enthralled by it. My mom had ordered a copy of Sorcerer's Stone, read it herself, and then passed it to me to read. I inhaled it. I simply had to know what was going to happen to Harry and his friends, why Snape was being so mean, and of course, when my own Hogwarts letter would be arriving.
Today, most of us think of Harry Potter as a distinct piece of our childhood. We grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, remembering them like our own childhood friends, because in a way, they were. Reading those books were our only real entrance into Hogwarts, and even though we weren't really there, we certainly learned a lot from Dumbledore, McGonagall and just about every other professor. We learned about friendship, magic, life and death, grief, family, and everything in between. I might not have realized at the time, but Harry Potter was teaching me things I would hold onto for life.
Truthfully, I'm not sure if I even want kids. I don't have luck with plants, let alone actual, real-live humans. I've never sat around thinking about what I might name the child I would someday have. But I definitely have thought about how exciting it would be the first time they read Harry Potter, and how I can't wait to be a part of that. It's essential childhood reading, so here are nine reasons I'd be read the series to my kids.
The Lessons On Friendship
The fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the three best companions around almost goes without saying. Their friendship went through ups and downs, but they made it through the good and the very, very bad because of each other. And that's not to mention Neville, Luna, Ginny, Fred, and George, and all the other less prominent (but no less important!) characters who were amazing friends throughout all seven books. The Harry Potter series shows kids what it means to be a great friend, and provides them with fictional friends while they read! It's a win-win.
Harry Potter has so much happening from the first book to the last that it will have any child's head spinning. They will be aching for their own Hogwarts letter, just like we all were when we first read the series. And it will instill magic in them, inspire them, and make the feel like anything is possible.
The Amazing Teachers
The Defense Against the Dark Arts position might have been like a revolving door, but there were some seriously amazing permanent teachers at Hogwarts. Dumbledore alone was a treasure trove of lessons and inspiration, but we can't forget about Lupin, Hagrid, McGonagall ... the list goes on and on. Every child needs a book with teachers like those!
The Professors, Hermione, the boys, everything: There was feminism written into the plot of Harry Potter, whether we noticed it as kids or not. Which is sometimes the best way for children to learn.
The Lessons On Tolerance
A 2014 study found that kids who read Harry Potter grew up to be more tolerant of minority groups. From Lupin's werewolf-ism to S.P.E.W. to, of course, the treatment of muggle-borns, J.K. Rowling was teaching us to be more tolerant with every page we turned. And we thought we were just reading about magic! We can always use a little more tolerance going around.
It's So Funny
The movies have their moments, but the books were where the real magic happened. Harry is sarcastic, Hermione is smart and sassy (basically the person we all hoped to be), and Ron is, well, Ron. Plus, the books have Peeves the Poltergeist! The movies totally leave out Peeves and all of his shenanigans. There are endless funny moments throughout the books, and you just have to read it to experience them! I wouldn't deprive any child of that.
The Lessons On Bravery
Harry Potter is one of the bravest characters in fiction. I mean, he faces Voldemort, after all. But bravery isn't always about beating the bad guy. As we learn from Neville in Sorcerer's Stone, sometimes being brave just means standing up to your friends, and that's something children everywhere deserve to know.
The Lessons On Love
Familial love, the love between friends, the love for magical creatures, and, of course, romantic love — the Harry Potter series was nothing if not full of love. J.K. Rowling shows us that everyone is worthy of love, and that that love is real, no matter the form it takes. Molly Weasley loved Harry like a son, Hagrid loved Aragog like a best friend, and Harry loved Sirius like a father. It's a worthy lesson for children and adults alike.
It's An All-Around Amazing Experience
An experience that every kid should have, so that they can pass it on to their kids, and they can pass it on to theirs and ... you get the idea.
Image: Warner Bros; Giphy (9)