.03: What is your favorite series.
I am going to try really hard not to make this entire challenge about Harry Potter! But, there isn't another series that I can legitimately call my favorite because, well, Harry Potter.
I missed out on the hype until the release of Book 4, in July 2000. I don't actually remember where the first four books that I own actually came from - if they were gifts, or if I bought them, but I do know that the first couple languished on my bookshelves for a couple of years. I finally read the first four when I threw all of them into the car on a whim as we were leaving for a vacation at a rental house in Central Oregon. I read all four in the course of that week - book 1 was engaging, book 2, which is still my least favorite of the series, kept me interested, but book 3 plunged me so deep into J.K. Rowlings world that I emerged, after book 4, shaking my head and having difficulty re-engaging with the rest of the world. It was the book hangover to end all book hangovers.
By the time that Book 6 was released, my daughter and I were completely immersed in the Harry Potter world. We went to the midnight release party - I still have a picture of her dressed up in Harry Potter glasses, and a robe from that night. She was nine years old. It may have been the first time she stayed out after one a.m.
Harry Potter, for me, is inextricably intertwined with the childhoods of my children. I have seen all of the movies with them, and read the entire series aloud to my son (every single word of every single page). I cannot imagine another series that will surpass it.
Now, I'm going to share something that I posted on July 14, 2011, the night that my 2 kids and I went to the midnight release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II:
Eleven years ago, I read a story about an eleven year old boy named Harry Potter to my then four year old daughter. It wasn't the first book I had read aloud to her, nor would it be the last, but it may have been the most important.
Because that book began a love affair and an enchantment that has spanned a decade. Together she and I read the books, watched the movies, talked about Harry, Hermione, Ron and the others as though they were real and beloved friends. We worried for them, laughed at them, and watched them grow up. As they grew up, so did my sweet Caitlyn. The year that she was eight, we spent an entire summer listening to the audio books, read by the incomparable Jim Dale, in the evenings.
Nearly five years ago, when she was eleven, the same age that Harry had been when the series started, we went to the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Both of us spent the weeks leading up to the book release wondering and worrying. What if Harry didn't make it? What if Hermione died? When we arrived home, she went to bed, and I cracked open the book and read, all night, until it was done. Then the next morning, I handed it to her, my face still streaked with tears, and told her that it was wonderful. As sad as I was to close the book for the first time, I consoled myself with the fact that it wasn't over. There were still the movies to come.
Tonight, she, now 15, and I, will sit in a darkened movie theater and, for the very last time, have an experience with Harry Potter that is new. So, I am sure that I am not alone when I say that this is a bittersweet prospect indeed. Tonight, I say goodbye to Harry Potter for real. My Caitlyn isn't a little girl any more, and though she will be with me in the theater, in a very real sense, when I say goodbye to Harry, Ron and Hermione, I say a sort of a goodbye to her, too. To the magical part of her childhood that can never be recaptured because it is gone. She will sit with her friends, not with me, and that is OK, because she is 15, not 5. And I, no doubt, will cry, not just because it will be wonderful, and because Harry will survive and win and vanquish Voldemort once an for all, but because this is an ending for me and my baby girl. For eleven years we have shared these stories, and they were important to us.
I cannot be the only mother who feels this way about this series. So, goodbye Harry, and Ron, and Hermione. And Molly, always one of my favorite characters, and Luna, and Professor Lupin. Your world is as real to me as my own. I know that I will still be able to escape into it, but it will never be the same, it will never be new, again. That is the monumental gift of JK Rowling.
This is all still true, save one thing. It was not the last new experience I had with Harry Potter. After seeing the movie, Nick and I were inspired to read the books together so that he could experience them in their original form. He was diagnosed with autism when he was three, and reads very slowly. A read aloud seemed to be the perfect solution to an intractable problem - the prospect of reading the books was, to him, monumentally intimidating. Thus was born "the reading streak" which is in its third year. It took us nearly a year to read the entire series.
This is why Harry Potter is my favorite series. It makes me emotional thinking about the impact that J.K. Rowling, through her stories, has had on my family.