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
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