The first time I read aloud I held my firstborn son in one arm and the book in the other. We started with kiddie books, with spines the size of a dictionary and at most a handful of words per illustrated page. Together, we slowly moved up the literary food chain passing from “Goodnight Moon” to “Green Eggs and Ham” and beyond.
As they got old enough to handle fewer pictures and more words, I looked around for something suitable. A friend told me about a particular book with a cumbersome name, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” so I bought it and took a chance.
From the middle of the first chapter my older son and I were, if you’ll forgive the pun, enchanted. We rejoiced when more books were announced, and we waited with anticipation for each one. We would devour the new one together in a matter of days. Then we would hunker down to wait another year.
The movies that followed the book series allowed us the purest form of cinematic escape, but as Harry and his friends grew older, so did my boys. The last few movies my wife and I saw alone, while my kids went with their friends. Such is life.
And the flow of life is part of the magic of the Harry Potter series. It was the paramount expression of my sons’ childhood, an educational bulldozer, and a literary gift for our family.
When the News Tribune asked for comments from young readers on the last Potter movie installment, I encouraged my older son to reply. He did so, and I think he did a great job.
But then I might be biased.
by Aidan O’Neill, 16
“It started when I was 5 years old; my dad reading the children’s book aloud to my brother and me on his lap. It seemed from there that the story of Harry Potter grew up with me. As I became older, the stories carried heavier themes, intended much more for young adults than children. They sparked an interest in me for reading. As soon as my dad would finish reading one book to us, I would pick it up and read it myself. The books and movies expanded the imaginations of everyone my age. Harry Potter became my first pop culture icon, and even more: a role model for my friends and me. I dressed up in glasses and a robe and carried a wand for countless Halloweens. I had Harry Potter-themed birthday parties and awaited the release of each installment.
“Even as I have grown older, I still went to the exhibit as it passed through Seattle and saw each movie twice. Although the days where I could fit on my father’s lap have long been just a memory, this story has been something that I have carried with me for my entire remembered life. As the story has developed and matured, so have my friends and I. But as it finally concludes this Friday, we continue to grow older. Harry forever remains as a symbol of my childhood, and I will always keep the memories and the magical sense of wonder he brought me.”