It is been ages since my last post. A new job and older, busier kids has pushed my blogging to the back burner for a while, but rest assured, we are all still reading together. I hope you have been, too! Allow me to share a short story about the powerful beauty of reading great books, for it is something for which I have been feeling incredibly grateful lately.
My son (age 9) and I have been reading the Harry Potter series together over the past few years. We read books 1-3 over the summer before second grade. He was instantly obsessed and begged me to keep reading. As anyone who has read the series can attest, book 4 starts to get a bit dark and heavy, so we made him wait to read The Goblet of Fire.
This past summer, we re-read books 1-3 aloud together and then moved on to book 4. He continued to eat these stories up. Not a single chapter ended without him pleading, "Keep reading!" I was worried that the end of that story would be upsetting or too scary, but interestingly, he thought the The Prisoner of Azkaban was more intense. We read book 5, and no sooner had we read the last page and closed the book than he was pulling book 6 off the shelf.
Last night, we finished The Half-Blood Prince. Those last few chapters are so emotional, and he watched me read on, tears streaming down my face at times. I watched him, too, wondering how he would react to what was happening to these characters we have come to love and consider friends. (For the record, I cried in books 4 and 5, too.) While he is old enough to love the adventure and incredible stories in these books, he is obviously still far too young to appreciate some of the other elements that make these stories so brilliant. Some people might argue that he is too young to read this series, but as with so many great books, he will read them again as he grows older and will appreciate them in a different way each time.
Now, I have read this series several times before on my own, well before I having children of my own. As I read them now, I obviously know the truth about these characters and what lies ahead. I recognize the moments that upon first read, seem insignificant, but in reality, have a far deeper meaning that cannot be understood until much later in the series. Rowling weaves these characters and stories together in a way that is positively brilliant. I know the answers to all of the questions my son has been wondering all along, just as I did when I was reading these books for the first time. (Whose side is Snape really on, anyway?) It is such an amazing experience to read these stories, armed with this knowledge, alongside someone who is experiencing it all for the first time. How wonderful, too, to read stories that inspire such imagination, compassion, and emotion! To laugh and cry with the characters and experience the world from their perspectives. To get so drawn into a story that reality fades away temporarily while you are completely immersed in another world. This is the magic of story. To experience this while snuggled up with my (not so) little one makes it even better. Reading is such a beautiful gift!
As I already mentioned, the end of book 6 gets me right in the feels, but when we read the last page and turned out the light last night, I was overcome by even more emotion. There was my sweet boy, to whom I have read every day since he was born, snuggled up beside me, taking up almost an entire twin bed now. He could certainly be reading these books on his own, but loves reading them aloud with me as much as I love reading them with him. I know the many moments we have spent reading these books together will remain among my most cherished memories of his childhood. I have a feeling he will remember them just as fondly. I'll admit that my sappy self is also a bit sad that there is only one book left. Fortunately, right about the time we finish The Deathly Hallows, my daughter will be eager and ready to read them all with us, as well. And so the magic will continue...