This should make for a very long series
This should make for a very long series, since there are so many wonderful books that can help us strengthen the relationship with our kids, but of course, there is one series of books that can help us do this while entertaining us and our kids immensely,
and at the same time can aid us in starting some interesting discussions regarding difficult topics that kids experience in our society, including discrimination, bullying, self-esteem issues, and more. I am referring to the Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling.
When we read with our children they receive numerous benefits, such as increasing their attention span by focusing on our voice, feeling closer to us, and avoiding the sensation that reading is a chore, relating reading instead with happiness, family time, and togetherness. If they are a little bit older, and read on their own, reading the same book can help to find topics of mutual interest, as well as become an incentive for conversation among the family.
Reading stimulates imagination, helps with vocabulary and spelling skills, and allows kids to expand their knowledge of the world around them. Reading is important, but reading something that you love is enlightening, healthily addictive, and thrilling.
I have read this series of books many, many times. I was one of those people who preordered the book, and waited impatiently for it to come so that I could read it. I would do so in one night (the fate of Harry Potter was more important than sleeping, of course), and then I would immediately go back to page 1, and start all over again, paying more attention to detail the second time (and the third, and the fourth, and….well, you get my point.)
I love these books, and they have taught me many lessons about life. Lessons that I feel the need to pass on to my students, and of course, to my daughter. But it is not always easy to start talking about these
things, and Harry Potter and his world help open the door to topics that are hard for kids to understand without relating them to something or someone, and for us adults to talk about without feeling inadequate or awkward. When kids look at these topics through the eyes of a little boy who has lost so much, and yet has recovered, they can relate, and the bravery that helps them go through this society everyday becomes attainable, close to them. The magic, of course, makes it that much fun.
This magic world, like ours, is far from perfect. Discrimination is a thing in the Harry Potter universe, a big thing, actually. Many wizards and witches pay more attention to “blood status”, that is, whether the individual comes from a family of “pure magical beings”, than the actual capabilities and qualities of people. There are derogatory names for people who don’t descend from all-magical families. This element of the wizarding society even leads to bullying in school, both by students and teachers, and in other areas of society as well, such as the workplace. We as “muggles”, that is, non magical beings (or so wizards and witches believe) experience many of these things. Discrimination has been a mark of our times, even when we are supposed to have left it behind long ago.
The feelings of inadequacy that we all have gone through at some point in our personal story are well described and well dealt with in the books, with adults being able to aid the kids when they ask for help. Many of the adults in the books have the right idea, they are kind, but firm when it comes to discipline, and the kids know that adults help them become better people, and responsible beings.
Another great lesson that our children can learn when reading these books is persistence. Our hero fails time and again, yet never yields in his attempts to defeat evil. He faces his fears, and believes in himself in the most difficult moments when even his closest friends are doubting him. A beautiful lesson, believe in yourself even if nobody else does, is accompanied by many others, the importance of friendship and
community, how having a great teacher can change you, or even how the love of a mother is unparalleled, priceless and even miraculous.
My 10 year-old daughter started reading the Harry Potter series this past December; she is moving through them fast, and is already on book 4. It has been so much fun discussing the books with her, discovering her insights and ideas about the topics that I’ve mentioned in this article, asking her for predictions about the future of the characters, following her train of thought and seeing how logically she reasons. Once she has read one of the books, we watch the movie based on it and compare both. So far, we both love the books more than the movies, even though most of them are good. I love that she loves to read, because it is one more thing we have in common, one more thing that provides us both with fun times, while also giving us mental and physical benefits.
So give it a shot! Try reading this story with your kids, and let me know how it goes. I promise you, you won’t regret it, and neither will they.