Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Confession: I Have Never Read Harry Potter

It's true. I have never read Harry Potter. I admitted this here on our blog over a decade ago and have still not read the series. I started the first book 10 times and never got past page 63. It wasn't that I didn't like the book. It just wasn't a priority for me when it first came out.  And then all of a sudden there were 7 books--each one longer than the last, and reading the whole series seemed like an overwhelming endeavor. And there are so many new books I am dying to read, taking the time to read Harry Potter has not been a priority. until now.

Last year, I attended two of the Scholastic Reading Summits. (The Summit is always one of my favorite days of summer, BTW.). Scholastic was celebrating 20 years of Harry Potter and the new paperback editions of the book were available.  And after the summits, Scholastic sent me this fabulous boxed set! Thank you Scholastic!  I took this gift as a bit of a sign that maybe it was time to read the books!I don't keep it a secret that I haven't read the Harry Potter books but sitting in that room at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Chicago, I realized how many of the references I just don't get. I was sad that I wasn't part of this conversation around books that so many people in my world have experienced.

Also, this summer, we are taking a trip to Disney and may spend a day at Universal's Harry Potter World. My family is obsessed with Harry Potter. All of them read the books more than once and one of the movies seems to be on quite often at our house.  I walk into the family room and my husband and daughter are often on the couch rewatching one of their favorites.  They are all abuzz about the things we'll do and they keep making references to the story and characters that I just don't understand.

So I decided it was time to read the books. For many reasons. I teach 5th grade and the first few books are perfect for 5th graders.  I have huge Harry Potter fans in my classroom each year and it seems crazy that I haven't read them. And how can I miss out on experiencing Harry Potter world as someone who read and loved the books?

In my post from 2007, I said, " If I read it later, which I very well may do, I will know so much from the talk, the media, just by being part of the world. I won't come at it as everyone else did. "   I get the jokes in the world enough to know they are Harry Potter references but I don't really understand them. I told my family last week, before starting the first book, "I kind of know all the characters and what happens from just living in the world."  They both looked at each other and rolled their eyes. And really, I know better than that.  Hearing about a book and a set of characters does not compare to experiencing the story. Of all the things I know in the world to be true, I do know this.

Last week, I read book one of Harry Potter. I enjoyed it. Totally enjoyed it. And I have started on Book 2.  I am not sure I will read all 7 in a row but I think you can say I am hooked and I am confident I will finish the series in the near future.  I am so happy to be reading them. And I am hoping to watch the movies after I read each book, when I can.

I share this babbling story of my Harry Potter reading for several reasons:

1. We all have these "book gaps"--books that is seems everyone has read but books that we've missed somehow. It seems to be a point of shame for readers who pride ourselves on keeping up and that's silly so I wanted to make this book gap public. It is never too late to enjoy a good book.

2. Sometimes we forget about the great books that aren't brand new. I have spent the last several years reading books as they are published, keeping up on the best and newest books that I sometimes forget about the fabulous books I've missed in my reading life. For my students, I am worried that I have focused too much on the new books and have forgotten to highlight all the great books from  past years. Lesson to self.

3.  Hearing about a book, walking through a room where the movie is playing does not compare to reading the actual book. Just a reminder.

4.  The thought of reading the Harry Potter series has been overwhelming to me. Most of my family and friends read the books one per year as they were published.  That seemed doable. But now that there are seven (and some are very long), it seems to overwhelming. I wonder if our kids feel that way about some of our series and classics?

5.  I imagine there are other teachers out there who have not read Harry Potter. If anyone wants to read it for the first time with me this summer, would love to have a little support group as I think I might be the only reading teacher who has never read it.

I'll keep you posted!


  1. Franki,
    True confessions. I have not read Harry Potter either. Oh the shame. My husband, a middle school Language Arts teacher, read it alongside our daughter years ago. I remember them rushing out at midnight at the sweet release of each new book (something digital reading certainly has changed).

    I knew I should read it, but then the movies came out. At that point, I knew so much about the storyline it was hard to motivate myself to read the book --- especially with seven books looming ahead. It was hard to invest the time when I knew so much about how it was going to end. Of course, my husband and daughter are probably quite right when they say I have to experience every word.

    I appreciated your points about book gaps. We do all have them. I have been thinking a lot about #2. New picture books are released at a rate my wallet cannot handle. While I'm continually amazed by the work of authors and illustrators, I can't help but think about all of the wonderful picture books we leave behind. I actually have a stack of past picture books pulled to share on my blog after I share my stack this weekend at the local "Build Your Stack" event. Every book I selected made me think of a past book I have loved.

    Thanks for the fun post! Maybe you've inspired me to rethink picking up Harry Potter --- or maybe I'll continue working through my stack of new books released. Good problems.

  2. Glad you enjoyed Book 1, Franki, and I hope you enjoy the others. Like many, I read them as they came out, rabidly enough that I bought the third one from the UK, because they published it a little earlier there. But I can see reading all 7 at once being a bit daunting. Good luck figuring out the right pace for you.

  3. I have not read Harry Potter either, even though I have had many students and teachers tell me I need to read it!! I have tried, like you, and never made it past the beginning. Maybe I will try again this summer, but as you mentioned, there always seems to be something else I would rather read!

  4. It's really comforting to know that someone who I consider a reading giant has not read Harry Potter. I made it through the first 1.5 books and never went any further. Coincidentally, I had ordered the set for our classroom, because several of my kids has asked for them, and they arrived yesterday. Maybe I will pick them up and try again. But they are really long!!!!


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