Thursday, January 20, 2011

Growing Up with Harry, Hermoine and Ron

When J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in the US in 1998, my own Witch and Wizard were seven and five years old, respectively.  They spent their summers with their grandfather, who followed his own mother's tradition of reading to children. He had picked up a copy of the book in England.  Every day they would read an installment and by the end of the summer, they had read the whole book. 

Both my Witch and my Wizard in turn became prodigious readers.  By the time they got to the third book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2000, the Wizard at age seven was able to read all three by himself, which is an amazing feat. Starting with the next book, we would go to the bookstore at midnight and stand in line to buy it first thing. The Witch and Wizard would then stay up all night reading the books while their parents - who had to work in the morning - went to bed. 

My own Wizard had a best friend, Wonder (short for Boy Wonder), who was also gifted and they both spent hours reading and imagining and running around.   Their fantasies were inspired, perhaps, by Harry, Ron and Hermoine but took flight in their own universe here in their own world.  Wonder even looked a bit like Harry as described in the book and was sharp as a tack.

Witch, true to her own form, was a sports nut but also a strong reader. Bright and talented and with a resemblance to the actress that plays Hermoine - Emma Watson - she bristled at the comparisons and hated that Hermoine's hair was characterized as "messy" and similar to hers.  I think, though, that Hermoine did make it easier to be "studious" and talented, and that may have influenced all the girls who were exposed to the books. 

As Witch, Wizard and Boy Wonder all entered middle school, the imaginative play gave way to school work and organized sports but the foundation of this imaginative crucible continued.  The movies were a focal point for all three kids and again, midnight expeditions to view the movies were organized and anticipated. 

The actors that played Harry, Hermoine and Ron turned out to be about the same age as Witch and Wizard and were certainly going through the same life stage at the same time. The last book was published as Witch, too, was finishing her high school career and looking to college.  Emma Watson started at Brown University the same year that Witch started at her university, a few hundred miles away on the same coast.  The last movie, Part II of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will premier the month after Wizard graduates high school.

All of this dovetailing is part of how I look back on my kids' childhood.  Perhaps not as exciting as Harry, Hermione and Ron's, but a time of exploration nonetheless.

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