Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fantasy Freak Week: The Power of Harry Potter

I can't talk about fantasy without eventually addressing Harry Potter. I won't pretend I'm some kind of Harry Potter authority, but I will admit to attending more than a few midnight premieres
(Here we are opening night of HP4. Those are Harry Potter stickers we have all over our faces, by the way, not remnants of a food fight.)

owning a boxful of memorabilia
(Only select items are pictured; the rest are stored away. As a disclaimer, I received most of these items as gifts. It's kind of a default for most people during the holiday season, so I started asking for kitchen items instead.)

making my own Rita Skeeter costume
(I made this costume for the HP7 book release party Midnight Muggle Madness at the Salt Lake City Public Library. I was a library volunteer at the time and working as a freelance reporter, so Rita seemed like the obvious choice.)

and rereading the books so often I've had to replace a couple
(HP3 still needs to be replaced, but there are so many other books to buy. I can deal with chapters 5-7 coming loose as long as they don't fall out.)

but I haven't visited the chat boards at or rummaged around J.K. Rowling's desk since college. I still got teary eyed when watching the trailer for the new movie, knowing the dynasty is coming to an end, but the troubled teen wizard is no longer such a big part of my life.

Yet strangely, he's become an even bigger part of my life. J.K. Rowling has become a little like Shakespeare in that her writing is often quoted without people even realizing it. Exes are referred to as "He Who Shall Not Be Named," people now know how to pronounce "Hermione" when reading A Winter's Tale in English class, and whenever someone wears a gold and red scarf, they inevitably hear someone say "Go, Go Gryffindor!"

I've been reading those books since high school, which means the kids reading them today weren't even born when the first one was published. Are they the best books ever written? Probably not. Will the story of Harry and the gang lead you into a life of greater enlightenment? Possible, but not likely. Has the world forever been changed by The Boy Who Lived? Err...

But have kids been encouraged to read more challenging books, and have parents changed the way they interact with their children on a literary level? Most assuredly. And to me, if even one child becomes a better reader, a more conscious friend, a stronger person for reading those books, J.K. Rowling deserves her millions.

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