October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Jacqueline Cano from Virginia.
When I am asked what my favorite book is, I am met with a challenge. How can I choose just one? There are thousands of books that have been written; there are thousands more to be written yet. How can I be expected to pick one? I’ve read hundreds of books. I couldn’t name them all if you paid me. But certain stories stick. And the series that sticks out most to me is Harry Potter.
And it isn’t just me. Mention Harry Potter and nearly everyone knows what you’re talking about. Some people will be enthused. Others will recognize it with apathy. There are also the ones who are fervently against it, but we mustn’t let those Muggles get us down. That’s one of the things I love about Harry Potter– the recognizable quality it holds. Harry Potter, which has been translated into 77 different languages, brings people of different ages and cultures together. It’s not some cool underground thing. It’s a unifying literary power.
Why do so many people care so much about a boy who grew up in the cupboard under the stairs? Why do so many people appreciate this made up story? What magic could it possibly hold? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you what I think.
It started out as a book, for one. Books are the most magical invention of man. It’s well written; it’s not an especially difficult book, but it’s not simplistic either, and every word in it breaths life. The story sucks you in. The details are what make it so believable. The sentences are filled with adverbs, letting us see exactly what happened and how. The scenery is drawn out so clearly in our minds. And those are just the literal details. Everything in Harry Potter has a back story. There is a rich fictional history behind everything that feels immensely real.
The characters are human in every sense of the word. They fight. They love. They react and express a wide range of emotions. They do good but still make mistakes–they all have flaws. They’re vulnerable, and as human and alive as you or I. The way they interact with each other is one of my favourite things. Then again, I’ve always had a weird fascination with human relationships.
Plus, Harry Potter teaches us, about Good versus Evil (with a true sense of the word evil), about love, growing up, friendship, prejudice, and loss, just to name a few. I remember reading an interview with J.K. Rowling where she claimed she didn’t write to teach children lessons, but she taught us. Or at least she gave us a way to teach ourselves through the view of the world she armed us with. Rowling helped us grow up through Harry Potter though admittedly this isn’t the same for those who were introduced later in life. She showed us that status and family names mean nothing but that despite this, some people still believe them to be of great importance. She showed us that we make our own futures, that we’re capable of being brilliant.
Rowling didn’t sugarcoat things. She showed us how truly awful things and people could be. She showed us that we ourselves are capable of doing wrong. More than that, she showed us that we are everything, good and bad, that it’s all in how we choose.
Harry Potter left behind tons of loyal followers. Rowling gave us a legacy. We may not be able to join Dumbledore’s Army, but we can join the Harry Potter Alliance, which is just as good, helping the community while being around a bunch of like-minded witches and wizards-I mean fans. The HPA highlights all the good we learned from Harry Potter.
Helping others is fantastic, but regretfully, we don’t do it as often as we should. So, what about the fun that comes out of this? Earlier this year I went on a trip to Hogsmeade in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. It was amazing. It was like stepping into the movie. I almost cried.
The best part of it was the collective awe.
In other sections of the park you saw the normal family arguments. But stepping into that section made it all go away. It was truly magical. And it felt genuinely good. Especially seeing how much it means to other people. And hearing grown adults freak out with joy in other languages.
I love Harry Potter. It may be just a story, but it is a large part of me. There is an instant bond that I feel with other fans that is unique. Finding someone who identifies with your House is spectacular. I am a proud self-proclaimed Slytherin (although Pottermore seems to think I should be in Gryffindor) and it’s nice to find similar, though hard to find fellow Slytherins because of the stigma still surrounding it. People look at you like you might be evil, but that is a misconception us Slytherins must unite to overturn. Same goes for all the houses really. Hufflepuffs aren’t lame. Ravenclaws aren’t heartless intellectual robots. And Gryffindor’s aren’t arrogant. We’re all just people with different main qualities.
Thanks for reading my post–I hope you enjoyed it. Now go read something else. Might I suggest revisiting the Harry Potter series?
And remember, draco dormiens nunquam titallandus.
Jacqueline Cano is a 16 year old high school junior in Virginia. She enjoys school, and her favorite subjects are JROTC and history. When she’s not reading or writing, she can usually be found listening to music or lost in her thoughts. More of her work can be found on Figment.