It’s September 1st, and everyone knows what that means… time to get onto the Hogwarts Express and head to school!
As a proud member of the Harry Potter Generation, today is basically a holiday.
What does being a member of the Harry Potter Generation mean? It means that I literally grew up with the book series, and later the films. Harry and I grew up together, and his story was an integral part of my development. It means that when Wizarding World opened in Orlando, I was there as a 20-year-old and stood in line for nearly 2 hours to get my wand. It means I brought my copies of all 7 books to college with me every year. It means midnight book premieres, midnight movie premieres, costumes, merchandise, going to Platform 9 3/4 when I was in London, going to fan conventions (yeah, LeakyCon!!), spending hours upon hours talking HP with friends, and, of course, using House sorting as a way to perfectly sum up someone’s personality (Hufflepuff pride).
It’s hard to say how I became so invested in Harry Potter, as it was sort of gradual. I read the first book in 3rd grade, and my next solid memory of the series was getting the fourth book the day it was released the next summer (I was nine, and it’s still my favorite of the books). Over time, my love grew like a snowball as I befriended more and more fellow Potter fans and as the series itself grew.
People who have never read Harry Potter can have trouble grasping why we readers (and film watchers, though I INSIST that anyone who hasn’t read the books and only seen the movies give the books a shot for a more complete experience) are so connected. But it’s simple: Harry’s world is the perfect mixture of escapism and a moral call-to-action. His adventures and the magic of wizarding life give readers a place to go to when times are tough. The lessons he and his friends learn, and in turn teach, give readers the strength they need to get through those times. HP teaches the full spectrum of life lessons: tolerance, love, acceptance, friendship, civil rights, equality, hard work, determination, loyalty, and the list goes on. And since friendship is so often about finding others with the same core values, it makes sense that it’s so easy for Potter fans to find fast friends amongst each other, even when they’ve only known each other a short amount of time (like maybe 20 minutes in line for LeakyCon registration? Or a few Facebook messages before rooming together? Or a quick conversation about Pygmy Puffs at a Lit event? All places where I made great friends).
This series also sparked consumers to become producers. Art, writing, fan movies, a new genre of music, clothing, merchandise, the list goes on. Readers and watchers didn’t need to contain their love, but instead channeled it into creating any type of text imaginable.
I could literally talk for hours about Harry Potter, from the characters to the setting to the intricacies of the magical world, to the treatment of minorities at Hogwarts or the inequalities in the Ministry of Magic’s practices. The list of topics is endless.
But the best thing about Harry Potter is that it won’t end with my generation. Sure, the percentage of kids who are reading it feels like it has gone down since my time, but the books are still all over bookstores, and even events like LeakyCon are full of younger fans. And, of course, when my generation starts to have kids, a whole new Harry Potter generation will be born.
Because as anyone who has read the stories know, Harry and Hogwarts will always be there to welcome us home.