Bonding Over Harry Potter

By Lyra Pore

Hogwarts. Quidditch. Wands and spells. The first time the Harry Potter series hit bookstores back in the late ‘90s, I couldn’t stand the books.

“I’m too old for this.”  I dismissed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone after just a few pages of reading the book.  If the series had been published when I was in high school, I would have loved it.  But I was by then a new mom to a baby girl my world was filled with diapers and formula, not owls, wizards and some fictional beings misguided by a Nazi-like obsession with the purity of species.

Last Christmas, however, my baby girl who had since turned ten received the children’s edition of the complete Harry Potter set for Christmas. Keen to find some bonding moments with her, I picked up the Philosopher’s Stone and tried reading it again.

I couldn’t have chosen a more auspicious time to take up Harry Potter. My daughter, just like Harry in the first book, was turning 11 in a few days.  And like Percy Weasley, Ron’s older brother, she’d just been elected school prefect.

Over the next two months, the two of us would explore the Harry Potter world together.  It would soon become a family affair too, as my husband and our other children would join us in watching the film adaptation each time we finished a book. Not only did we form a mother-daughter book club, we’d also organized family Friday Night Movies.  We’d all sit on the couch on Fridays, watch the Harry Potter DVD and talk about how the movie differed from the book.

“It wasn’t Neville Longbottom who gave Harry the gillyweed in Goblet of Fire. It was Dobby!”

“How come the other elf Winky wasn’t in any of the movies?”

At times, our Harry Potter journey turned into a writing lesson.  My daughter, who was starting to develop an interest in fiction writing, would comment on J.K. Rowling’s style and how it differed from that of Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series.  I worked in publishing; I took delight in talking about books especially with my children.

The excitement over the release of Deathly Hallows 2 took over our household.  My husband would buy our girls Harry Potter souvenirs that were being sold with every purchase of a local newspaper.  The family also organized a weekend trip to an IMAX theatre to watch the movie in 3D.  Making a day of it, we set out at 9 a.m., picked up some friends who were also going to the movies with us, went to lunch at a restaurant just a short walk from the cinema, and spent the rest of the afternoon not just enjoying the last movie of the series but savouring gelato that IMAX moviegoers could get free for each scoop they bought.

“Lord Voldemort’s wand will be out with the Sunday newspaper,” I told them after dinner on Friday.  “I thought it was Dumbledore’s,” my husband replied. “Oh, you’re right.  It’s Dumbledore’s.  The newspaper says it is.”

Upstairs our two year-old daughter was fast asleep. She’d been playing the whole week with Harry’s wand, yelling “crucio!” and “stupefy!” at her older sisters.