Books: The Legend of Harry Potter

I am currently reading my seven-year-old son the Harry Potter books, one chapter at a time, each night before bed. I've read them all before, of course, but it's something else to see it through the eyes of a young child, or at the least someone much younger than I was when I read the books myself—someone within the target demographic, I suppose, though the Harry Potter franchise certainly shattered the idea that kids' books were only for kids.

The other day, Alexander said to me, "Well, some say Harry Potter was real and some say he wasn't."


Me: "Um, no. He wasn't real."

Alexander: "But that's how it is with legends, you know. Some people think they really happened and some say they're just stories."

Me: "Okay, yes, but Harry Potter is really just a story. He's not a legend."

Despite continued conversation on the subject, I'm not certain my son is convinced Harry Potter didn't (or doesn't) exist. Or, at the very least, that there isn't a Hogwarts somewhere in the world, and that when he turns ten or eleven, an owl will arrive with a letter for him. Universal Studios would blow his mind.

It's funny because Alexander is an extremely rational child, very serious. We discuss things like string theory, and he has already decided to go to CalTech (as soon as possible, in fact, as he was asking the other day if they'd take him at age fourteen . . .) But he's also still a child, and willing in that way of children to accept things like magic and dragons as a natural part of the world. These things are, to him, very possible and believable. Even when string theory is not. (Vibrating strings? Sure, okay. Prove it.)

In any case, I'll continue to enjoy reading these books to him for as long as he'll allow it. He could read them for himself, of course, but he likes that I do all the voices. We've read The Hobbit (and then he re-read it again on his own), and some Judy Blume, and after Harry Potter, Alexander wants to do The Lord of the Rings . . . Not sure I have the stamina for those, though. I suggested Frankenstein, thinking to get in some old-school classics, but for whatever reason my young scientist is very, very bothered by that story and refuses to hear it. Maybe I'll try some Diana Wynne Jones on him (Chrestomanci is a favorite of mine) . . . Gotta get it all in now, while he'll let me. Though I can console myself with the fact that there are yet two more little ones waiting in the wings, and they'll be over Dr. Seuss soon enough and ready for legends of their own.

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