Posts Tagged ‘ harry potter ’

Why I’ll Never Stop Loving Harry Potter – and Reading

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4

Like many, many other fans I was incredibly sad to finish reading the Harry Potter series in 2007. For several years I had cheered for Harry playing against Slytherin, wished that I had my own pet owl, and teared up when Ron and Hermione finally acknowledged their crushes on each other.

Sure, there were still more movies that had yet to come out, but something about having the chance to snuggle up on my couch with a blanket and my new Harry Potter book was a feeling I knew I would miss.

Fortunately, that feeling never exactly came true. Myself and other Harry Potter fans got a special “Halloween treat” today—even more insight into the wizarding world today with the release of J.K. Rowling’s back-story on the malicious and bow-bedecked character, Dolores Umbridge, among a few other new tales.

It’s one of many new stories that have been released on Rowling’s site, Pottermore, since July (though you can read the Umbridge profile and a few other stories on Today.com, too).

And for someone like me who’s read every book at least five times (and had an HP-themed birthday party, beach towel, and board game set), it’s nice that a set of characters I’ve known for so long can still come back with new life, many years later.

In fact, it’s something that I’ve had the chance to grow up with. The seventh and final book came out when I was in high school, I dressed up and traveled with new college friends to see the first part of the Deathly Hallows movie in theaters at midnight, and when I studied abroad in London I spent plenty of time posing for pictures in front of the “real” Platform 9 3/4. And still, I’m looking forward to more HP surprises in store like the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them movie trilogy that was announced last year.

And while reading the new tales on my desktop screen isn’t quite the same as curling up on my parent’s sofa, it’s a comforting feeling to know that the books we read as kids have the ability to leave such a mark on us down the road. As a ten-year-old I identified with Hermione so much—she owned a cat (me too!), she loved school (same here!) and she had teeth that were in dire need of braces (just like me!). And I still remember those thoughts I had so long ago every time I get to see or read a new Harry Potter installation. It’s those tiny details about a book that can make reading so, well, magical.

Of course, the great thing about books is that you can always go back and crack open your favorite ones again (and share them with your kids too!). Luckily, I can say I’ve read several books that have left an impression on me years later. Here are a few:

What were the books you loved to read growing up? Share your favorites in the comments! 

3 Things to Help Kids Read
3 Things to Help Kids Read
3 Things to Help Kids Read

Photo of Platform 9 3/4 courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Harry Potter and the Lesson of Acceptance

Friday, August 15th, 2014

I was in fifth grade when J.K. Rowling released Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S. I didn’t read it until the seventh grade, but I tore through the first few books and became one of those kids who couldn’t wait until the next edition came out. Through seven novels, Harry Potter taught my generation a lot—and does so for millions of kid readers all over the world to this day. Researchers recently revealed that Harry Potter taught us much more than the rules of Quidditch.

As reported in The New York Times, the Journal of Applied Psychology recently published a study revealing that story-reading can affect how kids feel about currently stigmatized groups in our society, from immigrants to homosexuals. Specifically, kids who “read stories about characters from a culture similar to their own cooperating with characters from an unfamiliar culture, they later display fewer stereotypes, and more positive attitudes, about the people belonging to the dissimilar group.”

I remember when Draco Malfoy called Hermione Granger a Mudblood for the first time. It made my blood boil. I felt triumphant when Harry stood up for his friend. And that’s exactly the point. I had sympathy for Hermione. I felt nasty treatment towards her as an outsider was outrageous. This study shows much the same. Kids who read and discussed passages like these (about the in-group , like Harry, interacting positively with the out-group, like Hermione) held more positive views about the out-group of their own culture, like immigrants. On the other hand, kids who read and discussed Harry Potter passages that didn’t address prejudice, showed no change in their attitudes towards ostracized groups. As Harry entertained me, he also taught me.
He teaches the power of our own choices when he chooses Gryffindor under the Sorting Hat. He teaches what it is to fight for a greater cause. He teaches us to treat each other kindly, Muggle or Mudblood or Pure Blood.

This is exciting news not only for readers of Harry Potter, but any book that captures similar situations. Kids can learn to be more compassionate, accepting, and tolerant through reading. If that’s not a reason raise a reader, I don’t know what is.

Read with your kids or find other fun activities using Parents’ activity finder.

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Photograph: Shutterstock.com

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Honoring National Adoption Day: Illustrator Mary GrandPré Talks About Adopting Her Daughter

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Red crochet booties for a girlNovember is National Adoption Month, and this Saturday (November 23) is National Adoption Day. My colleague Lisa Milbrand, who adopted two children from China, recently wrote about her mixed feelings on “Gotcha Day,” when parents celebrate the day they adopted their child.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Harry Potter illustrator Mary GrandPré. She shared her experience adopting her daughter, Julia, from China seven years ago. Read the excerpt from the interview below.

Q: I watched an ArtOrg video from 2005 where you mentioned your adoption process. Can you speak a little about that experience?

A: I’m an older mom and I’m married to a man who has three adult children, so he was quite a trouper to want to go through this again, and I owe him, big-time. It was an amazing experience. I had always wanted to adopt a girl from China, and after we had lived in Florida for a couple of years, we went to China and we were matched with a baby girl. The process in China [means] … you don’t know who you are going to get. I’m not sure how they match, but they did an amazing job; it was like they picked the right girl for us. We had to wait about a week, [but] we were in China for two weeks. So we were doing all this touring and we were seeing the most amazing things, but all I could think about was having a baby, getting the baby, getting my girl. I couldn’t even concentrate. It was like I was in labor.

Even though she has grown brothers and sisters, Julia’s basically an only child. I never knew that having a child could be so life-changing and so wonderful. There are a lot of issues that come up with her birth parents [that] we’ve talked about it. A lot of people that adopt from China talk about it like [the child was] abandoned, [but] we don’t want to bring that up in our house and we don’t talk about it in that way because we don’t believe that she was abandoned. We talk to her about the one-child rule in China and how her parents didn’t have a choice. We want her to understand where she came from and why that situation was part of her life, and that her birth parents undoubtedly loved her because they put her in a place to be found.

We honor her birth parents. We honor her mother on Mother’s Day and we honor her father on Father’s Day, and we make cookies and we put them in a special mailbox in the backyard. We talk about it as much as she wants to, and we watch [what we call] the “Gotcha Day” video every “Gotcha Day.” [That’s the] the day we got her [when she was almost 2]. She was screaming her head off and didn’t want anything to do with us, but she thinks it’s quite funny now. I think she viewed me as threat because she was connected to her nanny quite a bit. By the time we got back home and the big dogs greeted us at the door, she was on me and she liked me. So from then on it was fine.

We’re going back to China in a couple of years, and Julia is very excited. She’s very proud of her heritage and she has dual citizenship.

 Read the full interview with Mary GrandPré and children’s book author Jennifer Dewing.

 

Image: Crocheted booties for a girl via Shutterstock

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