Monday, June 13, 2022

25 Years of Harry Potter

This month we celebrate 25 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was officially born. In honor of a quarter century of magic, I asked my friends to share their thoughts about Harry Potter and why the franchise has meant so much to us as fans over the past decades.

“One of my biggest takeaways from Harry Potter is the importance of healthy, solid friendships. Throughout the series, Ron and Hermione are there with Harry, throwing themselves into the path of danger and helping him however they can. They don't judge, the offer support and alternative ideas, and, when needed, a kind voice of reason. Without those solid friendships, are wouldn't have even made it through his first year at Hogwarts. Or, if he did, he'd have been friends with Draco... but that is another story altogether!” (David B)

“Like most fans, I love the world that JK Rowling built—the characters, the story, etc. I love the lessons and/or symbolism that she employed. I think what I liked about it in particular was the new idea of a wizarding school. That was something I’d never really considered. Because of the age of the main characters, it was easier (and enjoyable!) to insert myself into the fantasy world she created. I also loved having that story be a way of connecting with other fans as well, looking forward to the books and/movies together with the Harry Potter community.” (Becca J)

“I love that it has given us a shared cultural experience that sparked a huge reinterest in meaningful escapist literature during often dark times.” (Ken K)

“My dad brought the first two books home after getting a gift certificate to a bookstore and a recommendation about the books. We started reading them as a family in the evenings and it brought my family together as a common interest as we read and enjoyed them together. As a book lover, I loved watching my family share my love of books through experiencing the world of Harry Potter together.” (Juliana C)

“I grew into adulthood along with Harry Potter. I experienced loss, trauma, joy, acceptance, friendship, hardship, love, awkwardness, war, justice, and much more vicariously through the pages. The world was complex, yet relatable and with every challenge, there was hope. Good and evil existed.  Characters made mistakes and became through them. Adults were complex, with their own emotions and frailties that the characters could exploit or learn from. I learned that I had to be brave enough to face things alone. And yet, we never are truly alone and help is always just around the corner. Harry Potter was my escape from reality to a world of magical proportions. And even then, I was taught that just because it happened in your head, doesn't mean it isn't real.” (Eric B)

“I think one of my favorite things about Harry Potter is the fan-made content. The Harry Potter Puppet Pals, the band Harry and the Potters, a Very Potter Musical, it goes on and on. It's a universe that keeps expanding with every piece of fan-made content.” (Garrett W)

“The level of details, history, lore, and background that swirls through the books and other media are my favorite parts. It’s also an overall great story with intriguing character development. All while being easily digestible for the average reader.” (Benji P)

“To me, Harry Potter is not simply a story you read once. It grows with you. Every time I have reread it, I have been in a different stage of life and it has taught me something new. Especially about what it means to be a caring mother.“ (Lindsey T)

“I absolutely love Harry Potter. It was the first real book I read as a 9 year old and I remember the excitement of each book coming out! I love how people would camp out overnight to get the books!! I have some incredible memories of Harry Potter!” (Alex C)

“Harry Potter was one of those series that I couldn’t get enough of. I still remember getting the latest book and reading through it as quickly as possible (I’ve literally read some of the books in 48 hours). Getting lost in the story was an incredible escape for my middle school self, and I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to be transported back to Hogwarts.” (Patrick H)

I’m grateful for all the friends and strangers I’ve been able to connect with because of Harry Potter. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were friends to me when I felt alone in high school. In a way, I think Harry has been a friend to all of us over the years. Wherever life takes me, it’s nice to know that those friends will always be there whenever I open the book and read those magic words: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

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