Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Our First Read Aloud)

This blog entry will Chronicle (pun intended) a father and son’s first time reading Harry Potter together. I’ll update it after each chapter so that I can capture the most memorable moments. Come back often and check in on our progress and leave us a note or feedback!

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I know Jax and I will.

Finally! “I did my waiting! Twelve years of it!” (Ok maybe seven years of waiting)! But, the day has finally arrived!!! Tonight Jax and I begin our journey at 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging… to Platform 9 3/4 and finally on to Hogwarts! Wish us luck… then again, we won’t need luck… we’ll be with Professor Dumbledore.

Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived

We first meet the Dursleys and learn of the peculiar happenings surrounding the arrival of Harry Potter on their doorstep.

Jax: “Wait, Harry’s parents are dead, why didn’t Voldemort kill him too????” “Why can’t they say his name?”

Me: Stop asking great questions, damn it! This is going to be harder than I thought!!!

Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass

We finally get to see some magic happen (albeit unbeknownst to the new reader). Harry grows his hair back in one night, flies to the top of the school roof and helps a snake escape from the zoo after literally having a conversation with it, but Jax is most interested in the VCR Dudley gets for his birthday and “why the heck would a kid want to watch a movie on a tape when he could just use Netflix”.

Chapter 3: The Letters From No One

Tonight was a little difficult to get going on the reading (Jax wants to also read his other chapter book that he’s been reading), but I remember it took me a few chapters (and a few tries) to get into this first book when I started too. This chapter, luckily has a little of everything to really hook the reader. Give us a little bit of magic, some funny scenes (everyone getting hit with Dudley’s Smelting stick), a bunch of “bad words” and a shocking “to be continued” chapter ending! This may be the chapter that has him craving more!

Jax summary of this chapter: Harry gets in trouble because someone keeps sending him like two-hundred forty thousand letters. Uncle Vernon let’s Harry have a bigger room so he doesn’t have to stay in the cupboard anymore, but then says a bunch of bad words like “STUPID and DAMN!” (Jax needed to repeat these words multiple times to really drive home their importance, LOL). So then they tried to get away, so the mailman wouldn’t bring anymore letters to a house across the sea, but someone found them on Harry’s eleventh birthday! I think it might be Dumbledore!!!

Chapter 4: The Keeper of the Keys

Wait, Dad are you telling me I’m a wizard too?

Tonight, Jax was excited to meet Hagrid again. although not as excited to find out that my Hagrid voice sounded more like a defunct pirate. I

was worried a bit about this chapter as we hear a lot about death and literally get a visual of the green flash that kills Harry’s parents and almost kills him. Jax handed it well and inferred the flash of green light was from “Voldemort’s Stupid Wand!” I’d say even JKR herself couldn’t have described it better.

He also got to open the letter that Hagrid gave Harry which he was excited about. Since the book we are reading has lots of pop-up type 3D visuals in it, there’s some manipulatives that add to the experience as we read. After we finished the chapter I showed him the Hogwarts Letter that I had made for him when he was born. He was wide eyed when he asked if he had to start going to Hogwarts for second grade.

Chapter 5: Diagon Alley

I absolutely love this chapter more every time I read it. JK Rowling’s description of where to find the Leaky Cauldron completely throws the reader’s mind for a loop… it’s one of the most important and fascinating ideas about the wizarding world: “it has always been there, if one has the knowledge to find it.” This is the chapter that hooks so many readers, that makes the Lunas and the Nevilles feel at home. After a few reads I always interpreted this chapter (or more specifically the entering of Diagon Alley) as a place for anyone who feels different: that they can find the place where they belong, as long as they know where to look.

This chapter has really begun to peak Jax’ curiosity the most so far. So much so, that we only got through the first half of the the chapter tonight.

He realized it was the “same place” he had been two years ago and actually asked how people become wizards.

The following interaction actually happened:

Jax: “Wait, Dad. How do they all know him… did they read about him in the newspaper?… but I thought only old people read the newspaper?”

Me: “I guess wizards and old people read the newspaper.”

Jax: “But dad… you read the newspaper?”

Me: “That’s because I’m a wizard.”

Jax: “No, it’s because you’re an old man!”

Chapter 5 continued… After resuming the chapter Jax reminded me that Harry needed to buy his supplies and loved the “fold out” of Diagon Alley this book provided. (Maybe a trip to the Wizarding World at Universal is in store soon?)

The most intriguing part of this chapter was in Olivander’s Wand Shop. Jax face when Hagrid lied to Mr. Olivander about “never using his wand anymore” was priceless. He obviously remembered Hagrid’s pink umbrella. Of course then we learned that Harry’s wand’s Phoenix feather had a brother… and that feather belonged to VOL- He-Must-Not-Be-Named (I loved LOVED Jax catching himself, making sure he didn’t say VOLDEMORT! 💀

We ended the chapter with Harry heading back to the Dursley’s until the start of term and right as Jax’ eyes closed for the night.

Chapter 6: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

The chapters themselves are cliffhangers and illicit multiple questions during the reading… try reading a chapter after spending a day visiting Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I literally couldn’t read two sentences with out Jax interjecting or questioning something about a character or place that was mentioned… (and it was amazing), every single question gave me goosebumps! He’s starting to catch on.

Our trip to Platform 9 3/4 this past week added a special touch to this chapter

This is where so much of the book and really more importantly the entire series status to come together. we meet Neville and Hermione and Draco shows his true colors. The chapter is full of foreshadowing, things that I still sometimes notice for the first time all these reads later!

“Dad, wait!!!! Platform 9 3/4 we were there”… “Dad, remember when Harry, Ron and Hermione were outside our room on the train”…………..…. “OK, wait, Draco doesn’t like Hagrid? Remember we say him on the ride? He was holding his umbrella too!!!”

Every word he wanted to reread and every picture he wanted to inspect! It gave me goosebumps! I was closing my eyes as the chapter came to a close and Jax asked if he could stay up and look back at the previous chapters (he promised he wouldn’t read ahead! I hope he doesn’t… but I know I would if I were him!)

Chapter 7: The Sorting Hat

Damn you, Peeves! That damn poltergeist is such a minor character and used for comic relief… but according to Jax, “he’s the funniest so far!!!” Ok, yes he blows raspberries and makes farting noises, but geez Jax… grow up a little bit!

This chapter importantly introduces us to many new characters, the Hogwarts Houses and also forces us to really think about the preconceived notions that we bring with us as we read. Which brings us to the first really, really tough question of our reading.

“Why Slytherin Dad?”

It’s no secret that I’m a Slytherin. It’s tattooed on my arm:

Our hero, who we are experiencing the book through, has very strong feelings about Slytherin:

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin. “Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. ... You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you're sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!”

Jax has a very valid question, “Why are you in Slytherin? Dad, that’s where the bad guys go!”

I’m having an existential crisis at this point in the book. This chapter doesn’t become so much about comprehension, foreshadowing or character introductions… I had to navigate how NOT TO explain the thematic elements, the changes in characters as they develop though a story and most importantly about not judging a book by its cover.

We’re just not there yet. Jax is not there yet. Harry isn’t there yet either and that’s OK.

Chapter 8: The Potions Master

Wizards Unite: Harry Potter- Go

Rubeus Jackson

Pete Scamander

So I’m not a Pokémon person, but a few years back there was that Pokémon GO game that was crazy big. Well the Harry Potter franchise just finally came out with their own Pokémon Go type game. This game is very similar in that you’re hunting around looking for traces of dark magic and doing it in real time.

I’ve never really gotten into the video game world and definitely never got into any type of the cell phone game hype. The thing is, like Ron Weasley at any of the Hogwarts feasts, I’m literally about to gorge myself on every bit of information I can get my hands on when it comes to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

The best part of that is that Mike Dan is dropped at excited to get out there and help save the Wizarding community as I am. Playing a game like this lets parents engage actively as opposed to passively where you sit and watch TV. Yes, I realize you’re still holding a phone and that the dreaded “screen time” counter is running, but you’re outside and moving. It’s exciting and allows families to interact with the Harry Potter world as well. What better way to continue to develop my son’s love for the Wizarding World then to chase creatures around our neighborhood.

So far Jax and I have subdued a troll who was loose on the town green and rescued Hagrid who was trapped in Aragog’s massive spiderweb. We also were lucky enough to stop and capture a bunch of Cornish Pixies who were trying to destroy our man cave and honestly, we did a much better job than Professor Lockhart could ever do!

I am enjoying spending more time with Jax outside, but I have to admit, I’m not a super parent. I’m not always completely happy to come home after a 13 hour day and play a game. Honestly, the majority of my parent life is spent living the tired parent zone. So with this game, I really appreciate how it has motivated me to get outside with Jax even if I’m still in my shirt and tie after a long day.

I hate to say it, but as someone who was trying to avoid long periods of TV time and electronics the first couple years of Jackson’s life… it has just become convenient while trying to get ready in the morning to throw on the TV or iPad especially with two kids now. Putting together four lunches, getting everyone changed and then figuring out schedules for the day and just getting out the door is a project. Same goes for trying to unwind after work and school. Lately however, everyone has a newfound enthusiasm for getting outside to take Buster and Max for a walk. Give it a bit and Oliver is going to be out there wrangling up Fantastic Beasts too. He’s a beast himself so I won’t be too long before he realizes what’s going on.

This “game” has been out for less than 24 hours and Jax is already begging to play every walking second. Last night before bed he asked me, “how many minutes before we can play Harry Potter- Go again?!??” This morning in the car… “Dad, can I have your phone? Lets park. I want to look for creatures to catch!!!” And honestly, I’d rather that then dad can I have your phone to watch Paw Patrol.

… luckily I handed my phone over, because Jax was able to subdue a fully grown Mountain Troll and let’s face it, even Hermione couldn’t do that!!!

Top Ten Ways You Know You’re Obsessed With Harry Potter

Are you Harry Potter obsessed?  Are you a Potterhead?  If so, then get your quill ready to check off each item below… if you find at least 8/10 of these apply to you, then I’d say you’re well on your way to receiving your Hogwarts letter:

10. You own multiple copies of each book.

Regular Editions, Ten and Twenty Year Anniversary Editions, Special Cover Edition, Re-ReReleased Extra New Art Editions with a forward from J.K. Rowling’s editor’s granddaughter… we’ve seen them all… and we own them all. If it’s reprinted we’re rebuying!

9. You make sure other people enjoy the series as much as you do\

When you watch the movies with someone else, you watch them to make sure they laugh and cry at the right parts! It’s critical they other see the series exactly like you do! If they don’t cry when (SPOILER ALERT) Hedwig dies they need to be disowned from your life!

8. You have your own Harry Potter Shrine

Your office, bedroom or bookshelf is a museum of all things Harry Potter. Legos, Funko Pop! Buttons and stickers. If it’s HP related you have it on display!

7. Harry Potter Tattoos anyone? 

Whether it’s the obligatory All Was Well… or a basic Always, or something much more complex… every obsessed potter fan has or wants a Harry Potter Tattoo.

6. You listen to a Potter Podcast

If your ear buds are in I bet you’re listening to Mugglecast or The Leaky Cauldron. If not go download them now… Tell Andrew Sims I sent you!

5. The only reason you exercise is to earn your Potter related race medals

Virtual races are all the rage today, and for good reason. The proceeds raised go to charity and your race race hardware are Harry Potter themed. MILES MANAGED!!!

4. You’ve dressed your kids/pets up as Harry Potter characters

There’s only two reasons to have children. The first is to have them do chores and house work for you. The second… of course it’s to wrap them up in a cute Gryffindor scarf or capture them wearing the sorting hat.

3. You’ve been sorted into one of the Hogwarts Houses

Every Potter obsessed fan knows their house… and they are steadfast in their house loyalty. Hopefully those pesky Pottermore quizzes sorted you into the house you always thought you belonged to. (And no not all Slytherins are bad… I’m not!)

2. You follow J.K. Rowling on twitter

You Tweet at her on a regular basis desperately hoping for her to recognize you. Most of us Potterheads have at least 9 3/4 of our tweets dedicated to tagging or mentioning our author-hero.

1. You encourage (force) your children to love the Potter World as you do.

They don’t really have a choice right? It’s Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts… those are bedtime books and the only presents they get for holidays are Potter related!

Visiting with an Old Friend: Harry Potter


“There’s no way I’m reading this book.” I think I tried at least half a dozen times before finally giving up and looking for an Internet summary for a young-adult lit class in college. You see I was a “track star” and didn’t have the time for a story about witches and trolls or whatever these books were all about. It wasn’t until months later, during a dull summer afternoon I gave the Boy Wizard and his Lightening Bolt Scar another shot.

Fifteen-ish years… seven books, eight movies, three trips to the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando and an sleeve of Harry Potter tattoos later, I’m on the verge of attending a midnight release of another Harry Potter book.

I am 37 years old and just became an elementary school principal and I now have a son who turned three this past spring and another who is five months old. Like most of us who are now in our 30s, we grew up alongside the amazing world of Harry Potter, and the impact it has made on our life is hard to quantify. For my generation, (although I joined the wizarding world a little later than most of my peers), Harry Potter is a close friend and trusted companion. We came of age with the the young boy who found who he really was after leaving the “cupboard under the stairs” and we have now taken him into adulthood with us. I can’t imagine a childhood without him, and I’m so glad he’s stuck around as I’ve grown older.

The books came to me at a time when reading was a chore… an assignment or research needed for a paper. I was in college and hadn’t been really interested in a book since The Catcher in the Rye or A Separate Peace which I read early on in high school. I was interested in my track practice schedule and where my next track meet was. I didn’t have time for “reading for fun.” I was never really a fan of the fantasy genre. I never really got into Star Wars and at the time had only read one book in the Chronicles of Narnia series (The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, of course for a class assignment).

All that until I met a young wizard when I was in my early twenties. I was immediately… pardon the pun… enchanted by J.K. Rowling’s… pardon the pun again… magical way of spinning a tale. Harry, Ron and Hermione felt like old friends and Hogwarts felt like home. I had never interacted with text the way I did with these books. I had heard of “page-turners” before, but never held one myself. That was until that dull summer day all those years ago.

I tore through the first book in a few weeks, the second in about the same. Then came the Prisoner of Azkaban, my favorite of the series, which I devoured in three days on a trip to Boston. Book four, the longest of the series, took me about a week and was the first book I reread multiple times. The Order of the Phoenix was the first book I bought the day it was released and got through it in a few days. Then came book six, The Half Blood Prince. My first midnight release party. That night I asked Stephanie to marry me, gave her a ring and we sprinted to a small Indy bookstore on the Wildwood boardwalk to wait in line with hundreds of other people. I celebrated my engagement by reading in the hotel lobby until five in the morning and had the book finished on the beach the next day. The final book was an incredibly sad, yet even more exciting day for me. The last time I’d travel to Hogwarts with my friends, but also finally a chance to see our story to the finish line. I picked my preordered copy up at 8:00am and read 36 chapters and one epilogue (759 pages) in 17 hours. I stopped to eat and shower (I read during bathroom breaks too).

Luckily, the Potter fandom has created a life-line for the stories years after the books and movies came to an end. The stories’ centralized themes of friendship, love and leadership helped me be more self-reflective and even inspired others to create charities like the Harry Potter Alliance and Hogwarts’ Running Club. A recent study led by top professors across the world states that “people who grew up reading Harry Potter are more politically engaged and develop keener social perception and increased empathy.”


It’s been years since I picked up a new Potter book, but my time in the Wizarding World has still been busy. From Mugglenet.com and MuggleCast, to Pottermore online, movies, plays… and now as an educator and father introducing a new generation to my “old friends” and Professor Dumbledore’s wise words. My sons’ newborn photos (above) were done with a Harry Potter theme, (I’m sure he will love me sharing them when he’s in his teens). That’s what this series is all about… learning to love reading, whether it’s for the first time or like me learning to love reading again later in life.

I’m excited to bring my sons to Hogwarts for the first time and introduce them to my old friends. I’m interested to see if they’ll be sorted into Slytherin like their father… although based on Jackson’s adventurous, brave and quite daring side… I have a feeling he might be a Gryffindor, Oliver… Slytherin, (before the sorting hat even touches his head)… just like that Boy Wizard with the Lightening Bolt Scar I’m sure they’ll be in awe of the wizarding world. No matter the house they’re sorted into, or what it takes for my boys to become interested in the series, I think we’ll all be awaiting our Hogwarts letters together.

Here are some other Harry Potter related blogs I’ve written: 

https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2018/06/23/top-ten-ways-you-know-youre-obsessed-with-harry-potter/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/florida-trip-told-through-harry-potter-quotes/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/jax-tattoo/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/my-son-is-a-parseltongue/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/backtohogwarts/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/jackson-and-the-deathly-hallows/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/for-in-dreams/