I remember my younger son (Travis, now 16 and a junior in high school) came home from visits to his dad’s house with the Harry Potter books; at Christmas, dad’s girlfriend would buy him (Travis) Harry Potter items, such as a “magic” mug that showed invisible images when hot liquids were poured in.
As each new book was published, dad bought it for Travis — I wasn’t going to buy the books for him because I thought it was just a passing fad and that Travis would lose interest. I was mistaken. Travis maintained interest, at least up until Half-Blood Prince came out. Travis still admits to a grudging interest in the books, taking one out at times, and reading it. He put the Goblet of Fire DVD in and watched that three times in one weekend recently.
I have to admit that I had not read even one book when Sorcerer’s Stone was released as a movie; Travis told me that, in order to understand the movie, I would have to read the books. My thought? “Oh, boy, I have to read it before we go see the movie.” At that time, Travis was just nine, and crazy about Harry Potter, Quidditch, Hogwarts and wingardium leviosa (a spell). I started reading the book at his urging and found out — surprise! It’s better than I thought! I borrowed the other books in the series that he had already collected and read those, as well.
Thank God he made me read them, because I would have been lost watching the movie, otherwise. My older son went with us — he ended up falling asleep, but said he enjoyed the parts he was actually awake for. I have read each book more than once; watched the movies more than once too, especially those for which we have bought the DVDs. The movies follow the books, though not so closely that every scene from the books is in the movies (or we’d be in the theatre for at least four hours per movie).
Travis has always been a reader, so I didn’t have to use the books to induce him to read. He read Order of the Phoenix in two days flat! I can see where the plotlines, characters and stories would attract children who are not normally interested in reading. The books also show the conflict between good and evil; the struggle against prejudice (pure-blood wizards and witches against Muggles, who are non-wizarding people, and against half-bloods, who are children born of wizards and Muggles). The plot throughout the six books already published has been Harry Potter’s struggles and battles against Lord Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry when Harry was just a baby. Because of the sacrifice made by Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, Harry was protected from Lord Voldemort’s killing spell (Avada Kedavra). This is a theme throughout each book that has become more and more touched upon by Rowling. Voldemort’s spell backfired upon him, nearly killing him and rendering him to the merest shadow of what he had been before he tried to kill Harry. The protection Harry has had with him throughout all of the books has been love. Harry’s best friend through the books has been Ron Weasley. His parents have taken Harry in as almost a surrogate son, giving him love, attention, guidance, advice and great quantities of food (Mrs. Weasley always tells Harry he is too thin). From the second book (Chamber of Secrets) on, Harry has ended up saving one Weasley family member or another. He has saved Ginny (sister), Arthur (father) and Ron. Hermione Granger, a Muggle girl with magic powers came to Hogwarts and is the “best witch” in Harry’s class. She is also one of the most ethical characters in the books; she reminds Ron, Harry and other characters that they need to follow the rules of the Wizarding world. At the close of Half-Blood Prince, she and Ron were just beginning a romantic relationship after both broke up with others. This relationship has been foreshadowed and in the making since Prisoner of Azkhaban, when Ron noticed that Hermione is “a girl”.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and other classmates have interacted with other students (Draco Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, Neville Longbottom, Colin Creevey, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan). Professors have included Snape, Binns, Dumbledore, Moody, Lupin, Quirrel, Umbridge and Flitwick).
Harry has endured the loss of several people important to his growth and development. His parents, James and Lily Potter; Albus Dumbledore; Sirius Black. However, he has been able to draw strength and encouragement from their presence in his life (James and Lily appeared to Harry in the mirror of Erised and during the pivotal battle in the Little Hangleton cemetery between Harry and Lord Voldemort). Sirius Black died near the end of Order of the Phoenix; no doubt we will see him appear in Deathly Hallows at a critical juncture of the book when Harry is in need of guidance, advice or protection (remember the two-way mirror that Sirius gave him at the end of the Christmas holidays in Order of the Phoenix). Even though Dumbledore died near the end of Half-Blood Prince, his pet phoenix did not die. Harry, Dumbledore and the phoenix share a strong, mysterious bond. I have the feeling that the bird will play an important role in the upcoming final book of the series. I also believe that Dumbledore will have a role beyond the grave in guiding and protecting Harry.
As the years between books and movies dwindle and become months, then weeks, those of us who have come to love Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagle and others, look forward to spending some enjoyable hours with them again. We don’t know who will die or who will survive, but we do know this: even as the last page of the last book is turned, we can resume our relationships with these characters every time we pick up the books or watch the DVDs (in spite of the spoilers who would try to reveal the plot and who dies in the last book).