If you’re like me, you grew up with Harry Potter. You remember the feeling of sheer excitement as the books came out one by one, and counting down the days until the movies were released. Unlike George R. R. Martin, J.K. Rowling was able to keep up with the demands of both the moviegoers and the book readers, so our wait between books and movies was reasonable. Now that we’ve seen the pressure Martin is under, we’re able to realize just how incredible that feat was. I remember sincerely praying that Jesus wouldn’t rapture us until the last Harry Potter book was released, and that no one would spoil it for me.
In short: I was — and am still — a true hardcore fan. I even have a Harry Potter-themed tattoo (it’s the sword of Gryffindor through the mouth of the beheaded Nagini, designed by my good friend, UPROXX’s own David Pemberton) and even gave my youngest son the middle name of “James,” just like Harry himself.
The preoccupation with Harry Potter is the biggest “fandom” some of us ever had as children and young adults, before intense fandom was even a “thing” the way it is now. It was the defining cultural phenomenon of our generation, and it makes sense that it would continue to affect us deeply — which is particularly interesting as many of us enter into parenthood.
As we age and grow into the stories with our evolving lives and perspectives, we begin to see ourselves as different characters. When I asked several of my mom-friends which Harry Potter character they identified the most with, the answer was nearly universal: Molly Weasley. She is a character that you probably don’t really “get” until you’re already a parent: The frantic way she worries, the fiercely protective nature, and the constant desire to shower her children with love via homemade goodies. (By comparison, as a teenager, the character I most identified with was Luna Lovegood.)
So how has Harry Potter impacted the parenting style for first-generation readers? I had the opportunity to speak to a few other people to find out: author Christa MacDonald (mother of three), Valerie Leaverton (mother of three), and Alana Acosta-Lahullier (mother of two).
Have you read your books to your children yet?
ALANA: I actually just read the first book to [my five-year-old son]. I had to explain about Harry’s parents a lot because he kept asking about them. He’s never dealt with a death in the family, so I took the opportunity to do my best to explain death to him.
Did he like it?
ALANA: He loved it. I read him the illustrated one. Which, by the way, has gorgeous illustrations. He really liked those a lot. And his reward for finishing the book with me (which took like two months) is that he gets to see the movie now.
When did you first read the Harry Potter books?
ALANA: I first read the Harry Potter books in 2002. I was 23 and still reeling from the death of my mom, so it was a nice escape from my grief.