I used to be absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter.
I waited for my letter every year after the first book came out. I dreamed of making friends when I didn’t have any, like Harry. I dreamed of being understood when no one understood me, like Harry. I dreamed of helping make the world a better, safer place, like Harry and his friends were able to do.
But, my letter never came. And so, sometime in those 19 years of waiting, I stopped dreaming.
Instead, I made real friends. I started going to social events and having deep conversations about life and problems with people who cared. I volunteered for socially aware organizations and stayed up to date on current news. In other words, I grew up, became less dream-y, and entered “the real world.”
Yes, I know that one would expect a 26 year old to be at this level of productive member of society (and hopefully before 26). The part that shocked me, though, is that I didn’t even notice this had happened until I randomly ended up in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.
Walking through Diagon Alley, taking the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts, finally making it to Hogsmeade- there was something really wonderful about being in all the places I dreamed of experiencing and growing in, places that I once felt like I experienced with Harry. And being transported to this place made me realize how much I had changed over the years.
I think I still dream and wonder- not about living in a world of magic where my life falls into place after moderate but predictable plot struggles, but about things like how to end global poverty or impeach unqualified, hypocritical white supremacist presidents who consistently break the law. Adult things. Sure, it’s less often, less wistful, and more actionable, but I think the literature I was exposed to at a young age helped fuel that.
And that’s also my plug for giving kids books.