Hey, Hey Harry Potter!

Whenever an anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book or HP's birthday rolls around and I read posts celebrating the milestone, I get nostalgic.

As a fantasy lover, I had HP and the Sorceror's Stone with me on an urgent care visit just after it was published. The doctor and I were chatting about my library work and the large children's book I had in hand. Then he asked if I could answer a reference question. He had been listening to a review of a children's fantasy book on public radio and thought he heard the word "muddles" or "muggles" mentioned. I laughed and said, "This is the book and it's great!" He still read to his teen-age children  and had been intrigued by the review. I laughed and said, "You can't go wrong with this book!"

The moment of kismet told me something special was happening around this book. And the ensuing embrace of the Harry Potter literary universe reinforced that sense.

When the second book was published in Great Britain six months before the American edition, I purchased it immediately on Amazon UK. I did the same for the third book even though the publication was done simultaneously in both countries. I purchased Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone too! I loved reading the British words and expressions in those original versions.

By the third book, we began having a weekly Harry Potter afterschool read-alouds for kids and families. A homeschool parent and I tag-teamed reading for the hour. And it took months. It was heaven. The group became a club that went together to see the first - and subsequent - Harry Potter movies.

Long car trips flew by as my partner and I listened to both the British and American editions of the audiobooks. And of course we purchased the movies for our own home library (although our first loyalty remains with the books).

We began holding Harry Potter sleep-over parties at the library on the eve of publication of the new books. Kids and parents came in costume, we played HP movie soundtrack music over the PA system and we held classes, adventures and feasts. At the stroke of midnight, we would "open" the wholesaler's box with the newest book (all cataloged and covered) and begin reading. The kids were mesmerized until they nodded off (the last one usually hung on until 4 am). When they awoke, the kids were never crabby- they all had been captivated by the magic of the book and the library after hours.

Over the years, we booktalked, recommended read-alikes, talked with kids and parents about the books and kept buying enough copies to fill the requests and always have a least a copy on the shelves.

So here's to JK Rowling and her HP books. They shone a spotlight on reading and enjoying books that lasted long past the time I ever expected! And they enriched my reading and library work immeasurably.

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