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When We Fell for Harry Potter

July 23, 2012

By Karen Ruben

My son, Mark, had the great fortune of being born in 1991, which made him seven years old when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the US. I had heard an interview with J.K. Rowling on public radio and picked up a copy of the book. 

Then my son had the mixed blessing of getting a horrible, terrible, wonderful, flu and we suddenly had a week of down time. I read that first book out loud to him between naps and tiny sips of ginger ale. We both LOVED IT!

The only problem was, we wanted more. Joanne Rowling was somewhere working feverishly on the sequels but it was not fast enough for us. The anticipation was killing us in that delicious way that only unwritten sequels can do. We had to fill the time somehow. I credit Rowling for turning us on to a genre with so many great authors and books.

First, we read a lot of Roald Dahl. Our favorites were Matilda, the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Then we found C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. Those were fun! By then Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, a little darker and scarier than the first one.  Fantastic!

A teacher introduced Mark to Madeleine L’Engle,starting with A Wrinkle in Time. By now, Mark didn’t need me to read these books, but I was hooked, so we passed them back and forth. Sometimes I couldn’t wait for him to fall asleep at night so I could have my turn. Somewhere in there we found The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Wonderful!

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series beginning with The Golden Compass was a great read. During a particularly long stretch between Potter books (was Rowling on vacation or something?) we read the big, fat, fun Diana Wynne Jones books, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volumes I and II. Eventually we both read JRR Tolkien. Our favorite is The Hobbit.

Fortunately for Mark, he was growing up as Rowling was writing, so as the Harry Potter books became darker and scarier he grew older and braver. By the time the last Potter book came out he had sort of outgrown the genre and was reading more serious stuff. But really, can you be too old for Harry Potter?  Mark was relieved of all household duties when The Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. He was too distracted to do anything anyway and I wanted him to HURRY UP and finish so I could have my turn!

All of the books mentioned here deal with some level of dark magic, good threatened by evil, mystery and fantastical suspense. They are not for everyone. But, if you liked Harry Potter, you may get a similar, wonderful fix from some of these too.

If this type of book interests you, we would love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mimoe permalink
    July 26, 2012 9:12 pm

    What a great selection of wonderful readings that can be shared by the entire family. .. and what a wonderful foundation these were to fuel Mark’s love for reading.

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