We discover things at various ages in life. Where I discovered Star Wars at a very young age, someone else of my same age may have discovered it in their twenties or, God forbid, their thirties (what a tragedy!). However it happens, we experience things differently. For me, I discovered Harry Potter later in life (my mid-twenties) and even then, my child-like wonder was opened to the magical world as if I were a kid again.
You may ask how this happened. Let me tell you! Being a 90s kid, you’d think I would have been exposed to Harry Potter as soon as it was released. Well, not so. I was absolutely aware of it but due to my upbringing in a religious home, Harry Potter was viewed equally as Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering (I’ll toss in Pokémon too though I’m failing to see why at this moment). These were all viewed as bad things for my young mind to consume.
Now before you think I had horrible parents, I’m going to come to their defense. If you grew up in the late 80s through the 90s and were part of any evangelical Christian church, then there was a constant stigma on anything that had to do with magic or witchcraft. Churches believed these things could lead children and teenagers down paths deemed hazardous for their lives. My parents agreed with this, believing that certain morals and/or standards could be threatened. It was the culture of that time and I don’t blame them one bit for exercising that parental check. Having a son now, you can bet I will be very in tune with what he watches, reads, and listens to. (Note: I wasn’t keen enough to argue that Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were okay.)
Jump back to my mid-twenties and I can’t recall what led me to finally watch the first Harry Potter film but I did and while it was obviously geared towards a younger audience, I was intrigued. This led me to watch the next films one after another pretty quickly (yeah, I binged them hard). All of a sudden, I found myself completely mesmerized by this world. The last film, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had not been released yet but I was determined to get more. This led to my reading the books pretty quickly as well, using any free time I had outside of work and other obligations to finish Harry’s story.
What also helped provoke this wanting to consume this world is my own writing of fantasy. As an author, I was able to learn from J.K. Rowling’s ability to craft a complex story. She was able to weave a tapestry of plot and subplots that interconnected in ways the films could not fully weave. I actually consider my reading of Harry Potter the main contributor to the way I outline and plot my books. I look for the layers. Books do not have to be a simple, single layer cake but more like baklava: layers of flavor, texture, and ingredients.
In my mind, the books and films stand up well on their own. I find that enjoy both for some of the same but also different reasons. More than a few times now I’ve considered returning to the books. There is a true magic to how stories can impact our lives. I actually think Harry Potter is responsible for making many kids in the 90s readers (I see and interact with many of these on social media). There’s a good reason the books have sold in the millions in worldwide.
While I came to Harry Potter later in life, I find it a great joy of fiction and story to immerse myself into. My wife and I try to do a full marathon every other year (though I’d be okay with every year) and we look forward to sharing these books with our kids when we deem them old enough to handle the subject matter.