When I was in fourth grade, my grandparents gave me the first three Harry Potter books for Christmas. I was hooked after only a few chapters, and I raced through them all before the break was over. I waited impatiently for the next book to come out, completely unaware of what I would go through over the next 12 years. A few months later, I vividly remember sitting at my kitchen table the night after the fourth book came out, with goosebumps as I read about Voldemort’s return in the final pages. The fifth book was released several years later during my first year at TIP, and there were a few anxious weeks before I could get my hands on a copy of the book to see what new adventures were in store for the trio. By the time the sixth book was released, I had caught up to Harry in age and was able to drive myself to buy the book at midnight.
But the release of the seventh book is still my favorite Harry Potter related memory, as I waited in line at midnight at a bookstore in Oban, Scotland to buy the book, and bonded with strangers of various nationalities over our shared love of this wonderful world. The universal appeal of Harry Potter became real to me that night, as I saw how much this book series meant to each and every one of us waiting in line. While I don’t love the movies with the same passion as the books, they have grown on me over the years, and it’s been nothing but enjoyable to see the stories and characters that I love so dearly come to life on the big screen.
So, thanks Jo, for creating one of the stories that defined my childhood, for the pleasure of getting to grow up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of mystery, magic, and imagination, but most importantly, thanks for showing me that stories can still change the world.