As fellow Potterheads will know, it's Harry Potter Book Night.
But if the above sentence is all gobbledegook to you, today is a universal celebration of arguably one of the best book series to have ever been written.
If you didn't read the books the first time round when they initially came out, it's not too late to read them for yourself. Or your cat.
However, if you have kids yourself or a loved one or close friend does, you would be doing them a favour by reading these books to them. What some may perceive as just another load of books about a wizard - well they're not incorrect, but they're so much more than that.
They taught many generations of people - from young children to the elderly - so many things about life, love and loss. Even if you're not a fan of magic or fantasy novels, there'll be SOMETHING in there that you can relate to. There are puns, inspirational female characters, characters who make it ok to be smart or bookish. What more could you ask for?!
(Disclaimer: I will do my best throughout this article not to ruin too many things for you, but just be aware that this article may have some SPOILERS in!)
The puns and play on words
Throughout the novels, we are introduced to many different places with funny, made-up names. But they're based on real things! For example, the hidden wizarding street in London where Harry buys all his books, his uniform and - most importantly - his wand and owl, Hedwig, is called Diagon Alley = diagonally. The dodgier end of town is called Knocturn Alley = nocturnally. And of course, Grimmauld Place which Sirius Black bequeathed to Harry, was certainly a grim, old place.
They really put forward the idea of spirit animals
Not only do witches and wizards have the opportunity to transform into animals of their choosing - a witch or wizard who can do this is called an Animagus - but they have one in the shape of a spell that protects them from harm. Their Patronus, that can be summoned by using the spell Expecto Patronum, can save them from having their souls sucked out by Dementors. Nasty business. The animal is determined by "taking the shape of the animal with whom they share the deepest affinity". If you quite like the sound of that, you can find out your own Patronus here.
The clever character names
Harry's godfather and best friend to his deceased parents James and Lily, Sirius Black was one of the most-loved characters throughout the novels. The name Sirius comes from Greek mythology: "Because Orion had cared so much for his hunting dog, Artemis also put up a star for his dog: This is Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens." AND Sirius is an Animagus, who transforms into a dog. It's all so clever!
There's also Hedwig, Harry's owl. Hedwig was bought by Hagrid, Harry's friend and sort-of-guardian, on their aforementioned trip to Diagon Alley as a birthday present. She was a fiercely loyal companion for Harry, even sacrificing herself for him... But we won't go into that. Hedwig is named after Saint Hedwig, who is patron saint of dead children - so it could be thought that she was there to protect him from death.
It teaches you many things - including teaching children to appreciate their parents
Harry's parents died when he was one - his mother's death protected him from harm as her love made it impossible for him to be killed. Oh heck, I'm welling up.
But as Harry lives his entire life without the love of his parents - from ANYONE until he gets to Hogwarts - we can see through his experience how awful it is not to have grown up with your mum and dad and makes you so much more appreciative of your own.
It teaches you that your friends can become your family
Like I said, Harry does not know love of any kind until he gets to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, he meets his two best friends - Ron and Hermione. It is his friendship with them that teaches Harry to love and be loved. Throughout the series, the three of them put themselves in danger for each other time and time again, and shows just how important friendships can be.
It teaches children about loss
The death of Dobby the House Elf who adored Harry was a particularly hard one to bear
Yes, if you're reading the HP books for the first time as an adult, it's likely that you've already come across loss at some point, sadly. But it may be quite difficult to explain the concept of death to an innocent young seven-year-old. The books took you on Harry's journey, and as such, you become quite attached to the characters. And - SPOILERS - some of them die.
It shows the importance of knowledge
Hermoine IS a big of a smarty-pants, any Potter fan can admit that. BUT it is down to her bookworm-y self that the three of them are able to do half the things they accomplish. She's the encyclopedia that they need in almost every scenario, and she's really quite badass. She's made it COOL to be smart.
The female characters are hugely inspirational
Another thing Hermione did, along with ALL of the other female characters across the books, is show that women and girls are just as capable as men and boys. Even though the baddie women are, well, baddies, they're still strong and don't sink into the background just because the men are there. You go, girls!
It teaches you the importance of not judging a book by its cover
In the first couple of books when everything is still quite soft and nice and lovely, Professor Snape is something of an antagonist. Harry's Potions teacher REALLY hates him and seems to unfairly pick on him quite often. As the books go on, we find out that Snape was actually in love with Harry's mother, Lily, and was bullied relentlessly by Harry's father, James. It then transpires that Snape risks himself to keep Harry alive out of his love for Lily - his Patronus even changes to be the same as Lily's. Snape teaches us that people may have things going on that we know nothing about.
If this has managed to sway you to get involved, just click here to see if there are any local events for Harry Potter Book Night.
You can also buy the complete collection of Harry Potter books from Amazon here.
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