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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

My Twitter pal Bonnie Koenig and I were chatting about how we have both enjoyed watching our kids grow up with Harry Potter. We thought we’d share our stories, imagining that they are not so far from the stories of others who have children of similar ages. Read Bonnie’s post Harry Who? We’d love to hear other stories too….

This past November was the first time that my kids and I have spent Thanksgiving on our own at our place. We’ve always either been in a country that doesn’t celebrate it, or with my family. (And there was one year I missed it altogether because I was at a work meeting in Bangkok….)

This year the 3 of us made Thanksgiving dinner together. We each cooked our specialty and broke out the fancy china. It was a nice, cozy time. During dinner, my son Daniel said ‘We should go see Harry Potter. It’s tradition.’

We saw the first Harry Potter movie with our entire extended family in Oregon on our first Thanksgiving in the US after moving up from El Salvador. My kids always remember because there was a huge snowstorm, and they had never seen snow before. Subsequent Thanksgivings and Christmases, if there was a Harry Potter out, we’d make a point of all going together. I associate the movies with warmth and holiday, even though the themes of the movies are often dark.

Harry Potter for us didn’t start with the movies though. When Daniel was 7 and we lived in El Salvador, I picked up the first Harry Potter book on a work trip to the UK, having no idea what it was or what it was about. (I did the same thing with Radiohead’s Kid A now that I think about it. That was an influential trip!)

I started reading Harry Potter to Daniel, a chapter a night. He was in first grade, and reading short story books in Spanish. He read English at a slower pace. After we got through the first few chapters, he couldn’t wait for me. He would take the book to school in his backpack and read on his own at my mother-in-law’s house after school. He quickly finished the book without me.

We got hold of the second book while still in El Salvador. Then we moved to the US in the summer of 2001 when he was 9 and he spent a good deal of his waking hours devouring and re-devouring the 3rd and 4th books.

The Nimbus...

By that time he was a fast reader. We had to buy the hard copy versions of the books because he couldn’t wait for the paperbacks to come out. Since we were in the US, he had access to the Harry Potter paraphernalia too. We had the Nimbus Quiddich broom (which you may remember due to it’s funky reputation), and the Harry Potter Lego set. Daniel’s best friend at the time was a shoe-in for Harry, glasses and all.

As we left the theater after seeing the latest Harry Potter movie this Thanksgiving, Daniel commented on the new layer of connections he’d made between the film and life. Now that he was older, he could see themes of racism, government control, censorship and genocide and relate them to the real world. ‘I need to go back and read the books again,’ he said, ‘to understand what they are really about.’ Later that night while I was washing up the dishes, we got to talking. ‘Mom, I’ve been thinking how important reading is,’ he said. ‘People who don’t read, they’re just missing so many things. I’m glad I like reading. I’m glad you got me to like reading. Remember? Harry Potter was the first book I ever read. And in English!”

I am thinking maybe it’s time for me to get off the Internet and start reading books again too….

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