The end of Potterthon is upon us, and what a month it's been. We've laughed and cried, and re-read Philosopher's Stone together. Over the weekend, we asked if you'd neen paying attention, and quizzed you in our 'End of Year Examinations', and two of our brightest young witches went head-to-head, in a Team James vs. Team Snape debate that's currently so close I still can't call the results! But all good things must come to an end, and so we thought we'd leave you with something special.
At the beginning of the month, we asked you to share your stories, and let us know what Harry Potter means to you. Your responses have been overwhelmingly lovely, and I am so excited to share them all with you today. An enormous thank you to every one who participated in Potterthon, to everyone who has commented, promoted, shared, or even simply enjoyed the fun: we love you all.
What Harry Potter Means to Me:"I first discovered Harry Potter when I was a young backpacker, travelling around the world. I landed a job as the children’s buyer at Waterstones Booksellers in Dublin, where my new workmates and customers were strangely excited about the upcoming release of a mysterious book called Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. In anticipation of the launch, I devoured the first three books in the series, and I was totally hooked! To celebrate the release of Goblet of Fire, we held a Harry Potter dress up competition in the store. It was so much fun! I remember all these people dressed up in wizard costumes, crowded around the boxes of books, because we weren’t allowed to open them until the designated time. It was inspiring to see so many young children excited about a book, particularly such a massive volume. I overhead a lot of parents asking their child: ‘Are you sure you can read such a big book?’ and the child promising they would, hugging the book even tighter, then sneaking another peek inside. Every person in the store that day (including me) was just dying to get home and start reading. I never dreamed back then that I would end up working for the publisher of Harry Potter in my own country. I guess he changed my life in more ways than one!"
- Sonia, Bloomsbury Australia
"HARRY POTTER was what brought me into the world of words and imagination. My love for books began as soon as I finished THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. I can't thank J.K. Rowling and all the wonderful characters in HARRY POTTER enough."
- Megan K., The Book Galaxy
"I wasn't a reader before Harry Potter came along. But then his life, his world, his problems - they stole my heart. My eyes were opened to wonders of reading, discovering the magical places our imaginations can take us with the help of ink and paper. With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling created a beautiful world where my imagination thrived. I have Harry Potter and his adventures to thank for the reader I am today. When Hagrid took Harry from the Dursleys and on the journey that leads right the way through to Deathly Hallows, I went with them, but my journey was discovering the love of reading."
- Jo, Once Upon a Bookcase
"Harry Potter is what made me first fall in love with reading as a child. It showed me that books can take you somewhere you never thought existed. I have read the series numerous times and I never get tired of it. I have Harry Potter to thank for every book I have read an fallen in love with."
- Teresa, Readers Live A Thousand Lives
"That question comes with a pretty simple answer for me: Harry Potter's just been there. I literally grew up with it, starting 1998 with the Philosopher's Stone: it just slid into my life and became a very vital part of it. I was just in the 3rd Grade and I think reading it is the primary reason for the bunch of books (no, not only Harry Potter) that now reside in my bookshelf. It had the ability to suck me in like only the Neverending Story did before and since that day I was totally addicted and part of the "Potter Generation". The books fit perfectly in my everyday life and later in the series I grew up at the same pace as the characters, they developed as I developed and lived through the same things I did in puberty (ok, I wasn't chased by Voldemort, so what?), sometimes had the same problems as mine and sometimes even acted like I would do. The books held the balance between fiction and reality and I really identified myself with almost all of the characters in some way: it was like making friends. And yes, I still await my Hogwarts acceptance letter, I think it got lost in the mail about 12 years ago. I am absolutely grateful that these books were written and I luckily picked them up somehow and I am sure I wouldn't be the same person if I had not read any of them in my life. I am also sure that, as much as he finally deserves peace, I will miss Harry and his companions terribly in the next few years because with every single story they became more and more real to me and their fading presence will leave a deep hole in my life. Recently I stumbled upon a quote of Alan Rickman, which said exactly what I think of myself in a bunch of years: 'When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, “After all this time?” And I will say, “Always.”'"
- Lilabella - My Hand Full of Letters
"Harry Potter has literally shaped my life to what it is today. I would not be living in the US now if not for the courage I gained from reading about the trio. I would not have many of my closest friends if not for us meeting on a Harry Potter RPG website back in 2006. I would not even be married if not for my hubby listing Harry Potter as his favorite books on his online dating profile!"
Nina, Nina Reads
"I wish that I [could] speak and write in English fluently, so I can tell you what is Harry Potter's effect in my life. Harry Potter means a lot to me. I remember, I'm late to start reading this series. My first time reading Harry Potter was near with the first movie release. I was thinking to read the book first before I watched the movie. And after that time, Harry Potter is became like my obsessed. I was even can quotes almost all the books.
- Kristiana S.
"Instead of just gushing about how Harry Potter brought magic into my life etc. I thought I'd talk about a specific event in my teen years that was VERY Potter-focused -- because we all know Harry Potter has a special place in the hearts of normal people (there are the abnormal people who have avoided HP...they're so not cool)
My twin and I have always been obsessed with Harry Potter, ever since my older sister came home from her first year at High School where she was reading The Philosopher's Stone in her English class. I was only 10 at the time and Harry Potter had been around for 3 years - I was in that age group where getting a Hogwarts letter was still an option...apparently the trip was just a bit too long for the owl with my letter. Anyway, years passed and the Harry Potter obsession just kept growing (who could blame me really?) and all I really wanted was a Harry Potter party. So for my 16th birthday I got my wish!
That's right. I had a Harry Potter 16th Birthday Party, complete with Sorting Hat - the sorting involved picking a House name out of the Goblet of Fire, House rivalry - no-one but Slytherin wanted Slytherin to win, Tournaments - like Jelly-throwing competitions (the jelly was in House colours), QUDDITCH IN THE POOL! (The brooms were noodles) A Witch Cake and ... Hufflepuff winning the Cup. Yeah, that part was unexpected. But oh well, it was so much fun! I could not have asked for a better party - nothing went wrong, everyone had fun and best of all I got to spend my birthday doing nothing but Harry Potter things. The only things that were missing were an Invisibility Cloak and The Marauders -- What can I say: James, Sirius and Remus would have made the party EPIC!
Harry Potter was my first literary obsession and I'm never giving it up. To be touched so much by the world Ms. Rowling created - there's nothing more powerful than her words. "
- Kim, Two Girls and a Novel
"Harry Potter is my childhood and it means a great deal to me. I have so many great memories attached to the books and I love the warm nostalgic feeling I get every single time I pick one up. My favourite memory is when me and my step-mum both bought Order of the Pheonix at Asda and as soon as we got home we started reading and couldn't put it down. My dad was in awe at us both. I remember I couldn't stop laughing at one particular part, I laughed and giggled until my sides hurts. They made my childhood truly magical and gave me friends that I never dreamed of having. I can't thank J.K. Rowling enough for writing these wonderful books that I will continue to treasure until I'm old and wrinkly."
"Harry Potter is what made me love reading so much, and it's also what made me start writing. I love the books so much! I can read them over and over, and it never gets old."
- Hwa Sun
"I first read the Harry Potter books when i was 11, and i became obsessed. Not only did I become obsessed, my friends and half the class did as well. I read all Seven books in under a month, and then read them again beginning to end. We played games, discussed them, quoted them, re-watched all the movies and what ever else was possible. We even taught my best friend's 2 year old brother all the names and spells. It was an epidemic, and unlike other fads this one was so much fun, unlike football cards, marbles, twilight it just brought all these 11 years olds together. The class was never like that before Harry Potter.
Now, most other people have outgrown their Harry Potter love, but i have not. I still pick up the books or watch one of the films when i'm sad or worried. It doesn't matter that i'm almost word perfect, and know the plot inside out. I draw strength from them when things are difficult. And those friendships i made in year 6 through Potter were not a once off, it still helps me make new friends and connect with the ones i already have. The best conversations my brother and I have are about Harry Potter. When my best friend lived overseas for 2 years sending Harry Potter jokes, quotes, links, videos and songs was one of the ways we connected because as great as facebook it was hard to Really Talk, our love of potter made that easier.
I've made new friends through Harry Potter, and it amazes me every time that my Potter-loving Pals are the loveliest, nicest, most intelligent and interesting of people.
I love how utterly average Harry was. That, yes, he could save the whole world but only with lots of help and by being kind and courageous. It didn't take a genius or extrodanary powers it took love, friendship, bravery, determination and all those achievable things.
The magic of Harry Potter doesn't lie at Hogwarts, though i'd love to go to Hogwarts, it lives in the heart of its devoted readers. I don't know what's so special about these books, but the stories that stem from Harry Potter amaze me. It's just Magical."
- Anna, Cherry Banana Split
"Harry Potter is the book series that caused me to enjoy reading. If I never started Harry Potter, I probably would never have read books in elementary school and soon become addicted. Harry Potter is a series of an adventure with terrific characters and surprising revelations. Harry Potter is a boy who faces many obstacles in a wizarding world and boarding school - Hogwarts!- I always wanted to live in. Most of all, it is a series I always sink back into without even trying when I decide to re-read any of the books for I do not know how many time. Harry Potter is an unforgettable story!"
- Rachel, Unforgettable Books
"To me, Harry Potter is a series like no other. I started reading it when I was in 7th Grade, and felt like I was growing up right along with Harry. I've never felt more attached to any other book, nor have I found anything else that I could re-read as often. Every time I pick up the series, it's as though I'm re-reading it for the first time - anticipating outcomes of Quidditch matches even though I already know what will happen, crying when a character I love gets killed, and getting annoyed whenever the Minister of Magic does something stupid. I care about these characters, and I suppose that, to me, Harry Potter is a best friend."
- Kimberly, Love YA Books
"First of all, can I just say, J.K. Rowling is an inspiration to all writers to think they can't make it out there in the big wide world!
Harry Potter, I suppose, started off my love of reading. I watched the movies from a very young age, countless times, and have never gotten tired of them. There's something magical about the books, how J.K. Rowling weaves her words to make the book sound as real as possible.
New words are appearing onto the language, mysteriously-spells from Harry Potter. They're amazing how they're made up! And the dementors...Aaaaaah! Expecto Patronum!"
- Hikma, Wisdom Books
"When I was six years old, my Dad introduced me to the wonderful world that is Harry Potter. Harry Potter means so much to me, especially since before I knew about it I wasn't a big reader at all. Harry Potter introduced me to the amazing world of fantasy, and really brought out my love of reading. All the way till I was nine years old, my Dad would read my brother and I the Harry Potter series until we could read them on our own. My love for Harry Potter grew, and I found myself falling in love with the story. I could read Harry Potter and forget about what was going in my everyday life. For those hours that I would just sit and read, it was like I was in a whole different world.
I will never forget the day I received the last Harry Potter book. I was at sleepaway camp that summer and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mail truck. All of the sudden I see the truck pulling up into camp, and about a 100 girls (including me!) raced after it to get our copy of Harry! The minute the mailman pulled the boxes off the truck, I grabbed mine and sprinted back to my bunk and for the next 48 hours I read the final Harry Potter book. "
- Sarah, Catching Books
"I first discovered Harry Potter when I was in elementary school. I was the small, awkward, smart girl who got bullied a lot and called the ""teachers pet."" I didn't have good self esteem and I didn't like going to school and I really didn't like being smart (I mean, if I got harassed for it, what was the point?) It wasn't until I read the books and was introduced to Hermione Granger and the rest of the cast that I really started feeling better about myself. Hermione made being smart cool and without her and her brains, who knows where Harry and Ron would be! Harry Potter was my childhood. I grew up with all these characters and they helped me be strong and confident and really, really love reading more than I ever did. I learned so many great things from Harry Potter and I'm not sure where I'd be without these books!"
- Kailia Sage, Reading the Best of the Best
"In a way he means my inner child, that part of me that I refuse to let go or forget all because I grew up. We grew up with him, mourned with him, faced hardships with him. In a way we were right there with him, we learned to accept death and ultimately move on. I think Stephen King said it the best, "Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity""
- Duks Castro
"I love it! Loads of people will say "Oh, they're the books that got me into reading etc" But no, for me, they were the books I first thought, "Nah, they can't be as good as the films!" and I got into other books. But when I picked up the first book and read the first page I was intrigued, I always wanted to know what Happened next. Reading Harry Potter is one of the best things that have ever happened to me, encouraging me to become a well-known (fingers crossed) author!"
- Shakira, Shakira's Book Blog 'n' Stuff
"Harry Potter has shaped me, my personality and my life. It's a bit of a cliché, but it doesn't make it any less true. I started reading the books when I was 6 (in 2002) and I remember thinking that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was a very dull book (I had't yet reached the moment when Hagrid bursts in the house and tells Harry he's a wizard). Later on we met Hermione, the whole Weasley family, Dumbledore, McGonagall and all the other character we all love dearly. I learned to love myself because of Hermione and I still think that, after all this time, we are very similar.
Harry Potter is what makes me different from almost everybody around me. There is a huge Potter fanbase in Bulgaria but none of my friends are as passionate about it as me. It may seem stupid or childish to cry to a book or a movie but I think that us Potterheads know what that's like and will prefer to always stay children rather than stare without emotion at the screen or running our eyes indifferently through the pages.
What makes Harry Potter so amazing is the power it held and still holds on millions of people. We always go back to it in the end, don't we? Sometimes when I'm reading the books I have to remind myself that that's what it is, it's just a book. But, frankly, I don't really believe it. It's a tool for wiping the borders of the world and bringing people together, people that wouldn't have met otherwise. It's a book for children and adults alike, and everybody finds a different meaning in it. It's a book that brings love and hope, in my opinion, and it will forever stay in my heart with its amazing characters, stories and tiny details that you notice after reading it a million times. It's magical. And there is no reversing the spell after you come under it."
- Dessie Z.
"I was born as an bookaholic, from as long as I remember from my childhood is reading many-many-many books. But my interest as a teenager grows on books such as thriller or suspence or adventure and historic theme. Never fantasy 'cause I think those books are only for children ( and I'm not children anymore ), until someday someone give me Harry Potter series ( book 1-4 ) and I still not interesting to open those pages .... until one weekend I get so bored and I reach book one, and whoala, just like magic, I've been hipnotize pages after pages and I cannot stop until reach book 4 ... my heart beat so fast, I want more of the sequel which still on writing progress by the author. You can say that Harry Potter is my first-love on fantasy books, and since then I became fantasy lover until now, always craving for more fantasy, so read and read many-many fantasy stories, from Tolkien to CS Lewis, from Paolini to Philip Pullman, from Stephen King to Cornelia Funke, from Stephenie Meyer to Suzanne Collins, where you can name one by name, and the list still growing every second :D Harry Potter are the best influence on my readings :D "
- Hobby Buku, My Fantasy Readings
"What does Harry mean to me? I dont even know where to start. I remember I was living in Bronx, NY at the time. I was at the library checking out books. On my way out the door I found a cart with books on it for 5 and 10 cents. Old copies the library didnt want. I cherished books as a kid. They were my everything. My mom couldnt afford to buy me any copy I wanted so the library was my best friend. Seeing the cart made me super happy and I stopped and pulled out the 50 cents I had in my pocket super excited about owning some new books. Even if they were used and damaged. One of the copies I brought that day was the first Harry Potter book. As soon as I opened it and began reading I was hooked. I was 11 when I read that first copy the same age as Harry, I grew up with the Harry Potter books and feel like they are a huge part of my life that I wouldnt trade for anything. Most people dont understand my attachment to the the series. But to be honest, it changed my life. It was an amazing experience that I lived every step of the way. Thank you J.K. Rowling for this amazing experience."
- Sara A. Stegosaurus Rawr