The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters: Just a Little Bit of Magic
Posted by Stephen
Someone once told me if you have nowhere to go when you write, just tell your story.
So here’s mine.
I finally checked my student inbox for the first time since I graduated almost one month ago. One of the emails referred to my master’s thesis and the number of downloads it has received since publishing. I’m not sure what a good average looks like but I was pleased at the number of downloads so far. I guess this is what happens when you write your thesis on Harry Potter.
Here at Lantern Hollow Press, many of the staff have areas of “expertise” to help you, our readers, navigate the nuances of fantasy, science fiction, and literature. I was not really sure of my area until Rachel reminded me of my recently-earned degree and my love for children’s literature and education. In fact, my topic of Harry Potter came from this love of children’s literature. Of course, this decision to commit one year’s research and writing on this topic must have started somewhere, and this month I will tell my story, my journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
I read the first four books during the fall of 2002. I grew up in overly conservative Christian circles and heard the sermons and messages of the evils of Pokemon, Star Trek, and Harry Potter. In the summer of 2002, I watched the first film with my father, a person also reluctant to read the series, though I feel like my father’s reluctance stemmed from artistic skepticism rather than religious. After the film, my father and I had several discussions about what we saw that was anti-Christian or evil about the series: nothing. Though my father pointed out Harry’s penchant for lying and breaking rules (a topic I will address in a later post), we found absolutely nothing wrong with the film and wondered if the books were the same.
Months later, a family friend gave the first four books to me and my father to read, singing nothing but praises for the books (and he was a very conservative man). I went into the series nervous about the contents. What would I find? Were the sermons true? Is there evil, demonic witchcraft in the series? Does it openly mock God? What did the movie leave out?
I read the first book in a day.
I. Loved. It.
Again, I came to the same conclusion about the book as I had done the movie: nothing, absolutely nothing was wrong, evil, demonic anti-Christian, and anti-God about this series. Instead of atheistic or occultist philosophy, I discovered that Harry and his friends loved each other and sacrificed for each other. As mentioned above, some of the characters are morally ambiguous, but there is a clear distinction between good and evil.
I devoured the others shortly after reading the first book. I was hooked, obsessed. I took the third book to my church’s revival survives and hid it in my Bible case. I brought the fourth book to my relatives’ 50th wedding anniversary, hiding it under a table until my father made me put it away and actually talk to people. I relished the magic, mystery, and adventure of the series. It, like so many other people, had made me an avid reader. . . of children’s literature.
To tell you the truth, I hate to read. I am easily distracted, and I find no pleasure in sitting still. (Ironically, I love to watch, study, and critique films–probably my true area of expertise.) Yet, children’s books hold me, and it all started with Harry Potter. Whether or not they are fantasy, children’s books enchant me. I care for the characters, their lives, and their wants and desires. Their protagonists are no different than you or I–they’re only smaller and probably experiencing their struggles for the first time in their lives. And to me, they all really have a little bit of magic in them.
Posted on June 7, 2013, in Children's Literature, Christianity, Educational Resources, Fantasy, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, Social Commentary, Stephen Parish, The Harry Potter Series and tagged children's literature, Christianity, Good Reading, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, magic. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.