Relating to Hogwarts and sharing Harry Potter

By JASON MAYFIELD / Guest Columnist

It would be nice to get a “Hey, pay attention and don’t miss this!” alarm on everything important in life that you’re about to dismiss.

In 1998, the first Harry Potter book was published in the United States. I read plenty that year, including a history of a doll and its impact on a small town, but no Potter. By 2002, I was in the classroom teaching and working with identified struggling readers. One student was a Potter fan. It took her most of the year, but she finished all 700-plus pages of the fourth book, “The Goblet of Fire.” I was amazed the series could energize that girl to read, but I did not join her.

In 2006, I began teaching gifted and talented students. Suddenly, just about every conversation I had with students about literature brought the question, “Hey, isn’t that like in (insert name of one of the first six Potter books) when (insert the name of one of the main characters) did (insert something that happened — occasionally, others would then groan because they had not read that far in the series and didn’t know about that major plot-changing event)?”

The large, Potter-sized hole in my brain was beginning to show, and I felt guilty. I persisted in my “skipping Potter” stubbornness, even taking time to read the Twilight series (shudder) in the fall of 2008 before Christmas break rolled around and I figured “Oh, that first Potter book looks small. And it’s by itself on our school’s library shelf, so lonely. I’ll just take it home and say that I’ve read book one.”

Two weeks later, I returned having read the entire series. Of course, I loved it. I regretted all the chances I’d missed to connect the literary terms I knew to the Potter my students knew. I hated I’d skipped all the midnight release parties, those times to show my support to students and their excitement over books.

The movies that accompanied the series fell behind the books, so those releases gave my students and me something to discuss for the last three years. Now, the movies are coming to an end.

The eighth and final film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” comes to Shelby County theaters July 15. I know it’s something I don’t want to miss.

Jason Mayfield is a gifted instructor at Columbiana Middle School.