I will confess that it wasn’t until I read the third volume of the Harry Potter series that I fell head over heels in love with the books. But it is indeed love, and one that is inextricably tied up with the people in my life. My family was one among countless others that went to midnight book release parties in local bookstores, and we took it in turns to read each of the last four books aloud together. After driving home cradling each new volume, we would stay up until we had read at least one chapter, and would wake up to more new chapters, curled up together in the living room through the subsequent days until we finished the last word , the warm, sunny weather outside in the “real world” notwithstanding. And of course, I have been involved in countless discussions with my students about the books – revisiting plot twists, analyzing characters and their thoughts and feelings, sharing what connects each of us so deeply to the books.
I think I connected so strongly to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for three main reasons. One was undeniably the sheer inventiveness of J.K. Rowling and the riveting plot; I believe about five seconds went by between the moment I finished it and the moment I began to reread it. A second was Harry Potter discovering his godfather, who not only provided a direct connection to his parents but also joined Dumbledore in loving and caring for Harry. Helpless as a reader to serve that role for Harry, but wanting everything to work out for him, I was both touched and relieved at this new development. And the third was watching Harry, Hermione and Ron coming of age, taking bold and firm steps toward adulthood as they ably met the challenge with which Dumbledore had entrusted them. As a middle school teacher, I see this happen every year with my students, admittedly in somewhat less intense, dangerous and dramatic fashion. As a teacher in an all-girls school and someone who felt there was even more to Hermione than we glimpsed in the first two books, I was especially moved to see her own growth and success.