I took the kids to see the final movie in the Harry Potter series last night. It was fantastic, as I knew it would be. They did a marvelous job casting for the films, and the special effects were amazing. For me, the books were more enjoyable than the movies, though. An escape into a place so richly developed that, after I finished reading from them, it would take moments for my brain to clear and realize what reality is.
I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Hollywood when she was seven or eight. It was a challenge at first, because of the British nomenclature that was difficult to explain to a second grader. But of course the story won out. We read the first two books together, and then she grew out of our reading together stage and finished the series on her own.
The Boy became obsessed with them when he was old enough to read, too. He's read the entire series at least five times and can tell you exactly what happened in each story. After reading the first couple books to Hollywood, I waited until book seven was complete and then read books three through seven in a Harry Potter marathon that ruined me for other books for a couple of weeks. (No small feat for someone who has to constantly be reading something.)
The movies have been a family event for us too. We saw one of them at the drive-in theater in Door County, Wisconsin on vacation, we went to one for The Boy's birthday party. We aren't huge movie-goers, but there was never any question of seeing each of these films in the theater, and then buying the DVDs as soon as they were available. Last night was special - it was the first time we've gone to a midnight showing of any movie. The crowd was fun to interact with, people of all ages, but many of them teenagers who have grown up alongside Harry Potter, saying their final goodbyes to Hogwarts. Bumblebee is a bit young to understand it all, but we let her come to the movie last night because it would have been mean to keep her at home. She stayed awake for the whole movie, although I question how much of it she understood. She's old enough now that we will begin reading the stories together this coming year. I'm looking forward to starting the adventure over again with her.
I'd say what everyone has about the series. The wonderful stories got kids interested in reading. They got kids and adults talking together about a place that lives in our minds. (What do you mean Diagon Alley isn't a real place?!) Kids were jazzed - it wasn't geeky to love seven stories about a wizard, it was just what you did! For our family, it was a springboard for conversation. The Boy and I will go for a walk with Reggie and talk of Harry, Hermione and Ron for an hour. And don't forget Snape - as I was reading The Deathly Hallows and Snape's story unfolded, revealing that he was on Harry's side, protecting him, all along, I was a sobbing, blubbery mess. I cried so hard that I had a headache for the rest of the day. The Boy was amused at my emotional response to how that part of the story unfolded, and we have talked about it as though Snape were a relative or someone we knew.
Because, you know what? He was. They all were. And I think it's amazing that a story about a little boy with messy hair and round glasses could bring a family together, giving them so much fodder for conversation and happy times like this one did.
Goodbye, Harry Potter. Thanks for the memories you have created for our family. I will see you again this fall, when I crack the pages open and begin the adventure with Bumblebee.
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