Friday, February 11, 2011
And So It Begins... Again.
It’s not that I would have disowned my children if they hadn’t loved the Harry Potter books. I just would have thought that I got someone else’s kids by accident when I left the hospital. However, I should have been careful what I wished for, because my children do not take an obsession lightly.
I remember the first time the books were recommended to me. Seven years ago, I was visiting my best friend from Sewanee, along with several other close college friends. I was the only one who was not somewhere in the series. “The little magical boy?” I scoffed. “You have to be kidding. I read Chaucer. I read Shakespeare.” My friends (all of whom are way smarter, more worldly than I am, and have more degrees than I do) dared me to read the first book: “Just read the first chapter. If you can put it down, fine. You won’t.” Obviously, they were right. The series remains some of the best books I have ever read, and attending midnight book releases became a way of life for a few years there.
My whole family was affected. Scott would read the books as soon as they came out at his desk at work, cleverly covered by a law journal. (It really didn’t matter since most of the other attorneys were reading them too.) My mother, an award-winning English teacher, also scoffed – until she read them and became hooked. My sister, the ever practical, no-funny-business banker, even became a fan. Harry has, at one time or another, taken over everyone around me. For years, the ringtone on my phone was the Harry Potter theme from the movies. Most of my friends and clients recognized it right away.
What started off as an innocent bedtime story for the kids -- “Chapter One – The Boy Who Lived” – has become a giant, three-headed dog of a fixation around here. Katie read Sorcerer’s Stone in a matter of days, despite the fact that it was well above her assigned reading level. Upon reading the last page, she came downstairs and announced that it was time for a trip to Borders because she couldn’t stand not continuing the story. Soon after, we caught her, WAY past her bedtime, curled up with Chamber of Secrets under her comforter with a flashlight. “But I’m almost to the end!!!” she pleaded. “You just CAN’T make me quit now!!” J.K. Rowling has an ability to do magic which even Harry himself would admire.
Katie is reaching legendary status in her Accelerated Reader program. Her teachers have given her permission to test on the Harry Potter books, which are worth a great deal more points than most second-grade literary fare. Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book, is just below a seventh-grade level. The deal is this: as long as Katie continues to pass the tests, she may continue to take them. She passed the first two with flying colors, and stands at the top of the class (and of the seven 2nd grades in her school) in A.R. points.
Today she wrapped up for school in her coat, mittens, and MY prized Hogwarts scarf. I decided that it was time to pass on the torch to the next generation of Harry-readers. I chose today to give it to her because this afternoon, she begins a weekly after-school enrichment program. The class? Hogwarts at Blue Grass. I think she’ll fit right in.