I have a confession to make.
In 1998, when my mother (a librarian) first brought home a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for her children to read, I was not hooked.
Granted, I was only seven years old at the time, but in my case, that really did not matter. Sorcerer’s Stone has a Lexile rank of 880L, putting it squarely in the fifth-grade reading level, but I was always a precocious reader. Even so, that first copy of Harry Potter was read exactly one time before it was consigned to sit on the shelf, collecting dust.
In fact, I wouldn’t begin my journey to Grade-A Extra Large Potterhead until my friend up the road insisted that I had to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, regardless of my preexisting feelings on Harry Potter.
Buddy, did my life change that day. Blasting right past multiple books’ worth of exposition and worldbuilding into a fully formed super-secret international community rife with mysteries and conspiracies certainly got my attention. Besides, even if I hadn’t been completely sold with the fifty-year-old murder mystery on the very first page, I definitely would’ve been in with both feet when Harry successfully answered the riddle of the sphinx only to immediately face a gigantic spider.
I’ve always had a thing for giant spiders.
Don’t ask me why.
Even more important than Harry’s wondrous world, though, is what’s happening inside that world. Just when you begin to settle in for an escapist ride on a fantasy roller coaster, you’re reminded that the Wizarding World, too, has its dark side. Worse, you can see that the dark side of Harry’s world is not so different from the underbelly of our own.
Witches and wizards, it turns out, are not immune to human foibles. On the largest scale, they have nationalist tendencies and supremacist groups, and on a more personal level? Well, they are not exactly experts at the one-on-one relationship either. Suddenly the rose-colored readers come off, and if you over think it, the fantasy thrill ride starts to come back down to earth.
This is when I’m really hooked. This is when it gets real. Sure, they may be fighting dragons and slinging spells, but what they’re really doing is taking a stand. When Harry and company go out into a world that knows hate and fear and despair, they meet it head on with friendship, with bravery, and with love.
This is what resonates with the most die-hard Harry Potter fans.
This is what we take from the magical world of witches and wizards into our own.
The Harry Potter books reached me in the way that I needed and at the time that I needed it. I have carried the lessons that I learned from those books off the page and into the real world.
Now, thanks to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the fantasy elements that finally got hold of my imagination four books into the series have come off the page too.
Even the giant spiders.
What’s your Harry Potter origin story? Have you always been obsessed with the wizarding world, or is Wizards Unite your introduction to the series? Connect with me and the rest of the WizHub team here in the comments or on our social media platforms.