This year, more than any other, everyone is looking to avoid awkward conversations about U.S. politics at the Thanksgiving table. If you're in need of some lighthearted — and largely non-political — news to share on Thursday, tell your relatives all about how J.K. Rowling sent Harry Potter books to Aleppo, Syria. It's the kind of news that's sure to warm hearts, and, if your family's game, you might be able to avoid politics altogether.
The story begins with Bana Alabed, a 7-year-old girl, who has previously made headlines for her English-language tweets about daily life in Aleppo. Bana and her mother, Fatemah, watched a Harry Potter movie, but could not find a copy of the book in their corner of the world.*
Fatemah reached out to Rowling, letting her know how much they enjoyed the movie, and how much Bana would like to read the book. When Rowling replied with words of encouragement, Bana did not hesitate to ask the magical author how she could get her hands on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
At first, Rowling was not sure she could help the little family — which includes Bana's two younger brothers — but soon her literary agent, Neil Blair, had an idea: If Bana could receive eBook versions of the Harry Potter books, they could be sent to her easily, unslowed by road blocks and conflict.
Here's how it all went down.
At a time when it seems like the world is falling apart, it's nice to know that we're still capable of doing great, kind things.
*Note: The Harry Potter series has an Arabic translation, and the books are available in Syria. However, given the dire situation in Aleppo, Bana and her mother were unable to secure copies for themselves.