As the new Harry Potter film marks the close of a series that has brought much controversy to our new millennium, it seems only fitting to reflect on what lessons might be learned by our journey with Harry. To echo reader response theorists Louise Rosenblatt, Donald Graves, and Constance Weaver, reading only results in meaning when we transact with the text and bring our own unique experiences to it. So in reflecting on Harry Potter, I share the meaning that I have found in Harry Potter as an educator, parent, and Christian.
As an Educator
Harry first caught my attention as I began my graduate work because he had an entire world reading. Young and old stood in line together swapping theories of what would happen in the next Harry Potter adventure. They dressed in costume and presented at conferences. They scribbled theories on walls about whether Snape was good or evil and if Harry would marry Hermione or Ginny. Communities grappled with this new phenomenon and argued about how the series might affect our youth. Some found it evil and decided to ban it from libraries—along with other classics like Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Gone with the Wind.