Back when the Harry Potter books first became popular my boys were about 8 and 10, the perfect age to be introduced to these magical stories. Every night I would read them a chapter and they would beg me not to stop even though some of those chapters were really long and my voice was giving out. It was a sad day when they proclaimed they no longer needed me to read to them, they could read Harry Potter on their own. And they did, and I was so grateful to JK Rowling that it awakened in my children a love of literature. We had a rule - you could only go and see a Harry Potter movie if you had read the book. It was never a problem to achieve that goal. And side note, I would not let them read the American version of the book, I made them wait until we could get our hands on the British version, some of the titles and language and spellings are very different and it was just my small attempt at keeping our British roots.
I recently decided to revisit the whole series of books, as it has been over 15 years since I picked them up. I did not realize how much I had forgotten and having that world open to me again has been very nostalgic remembering 2 little boys snuggling up to me hanging on my every word. But it also made me think about how many great lessons we learned through reading these books.
- Good friendships will get you through just about anything, whether it be dementors or mothers in law - good friends are walking beside you through the good and bad times.
- Being brave is not about how physically strong you are, or how smart you are, or what your lineage is, it’s about that small voice of courage that may roar, or may whisper in your heart. Harry was a small boy when he first stood up to Voldemort. The Voldemort people and situations in my life have been squished when I say to myself “I can do hard things, I can do hard things and it does not matter if I am a Muggle.”
- First impressions are not always what they seem. When Harry first met Hagrid, if he had bought into the bumbling clumsy giant who had been expelled from Hogwarts, he would have missed out on a beautiful friendship. When I first moved to the States, the weather, people, language and culture were so different my first instinct was to hide under the bed, but if I had not ventured out and immersed myself in the culture I would have missed out on so many great experiences.
- Its ok to ask for help. How many of us are too proud, ashamed, confused to reach out and say I need help? Harry’s first instinct was often to try and do things alone, a lot of us are like that. It’s easier sometimes because then no one sees when we fail, but its ok to ask for help even if it's finding the right disappearing staircase or learning how to avoid Peeves the Poltergeist.
- Heartbreak happens but true love always wins. Poor Harry lost some good friends to death and struggled with betrayals and let downs but his pure heart and the loyalty of his closest friends was what he really needed in the end. Sometimes, often, family is not just blood but those you hold close to you. That is a lesson I am willing to live by every day.
- And finally, in the Chamber of Secrets Harry is tortured by the memory that the sorting hat wanted to put him in Slytherin, the darkest of the Hogwart Houses but he ended up in Gryffindor. Headmaster Dumbledore reminds Harry at the end of the book that our choices can change our destiny, Harry chose to be in Gryffindor. That gives me great comfort and hope that the authentic decisions we make for ourselves can change the course of our lives for a path more hopeful and more glorious than we ever could have imagined. Dream big my friends.
Still only half way through the second book, already hooked, only 5½ to go. Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate some Harry Potter yoga moves into my kid’s classes!