I missed the original Harry Potter buzz – I’m not sure how as I worked in a bookstore off and on from 1996-2002, during which the first four books were released. I made up for this last week, when I got swept up in my eight-year-old’s excitement over Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I could not drag the eight-year-old to a midnight release party, so we went to our local bookstore’s breakfast party. We have not yet planned a Harry Potter themed birthday party; I had not even done a quick Pinterest search. So the party details were magical for both of us:

  • From the food – Cauldron Cakes, Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Wizard Balls, and Chocolate Frogs
  • To the drinks – Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, Muggle drinks (coffee), and Polyjuice Potion
  • To the simple decorations – the brick “wall” of Platform 9 3/4 at the store’s entrance, Moaning Myrtle on the toilet lid, and the book display labeled “Owl Emporium”
  • To the activities – wands with simple spell directions by Mr. Olivander, the “Have you seen this wizard poster?,” and endless trivia.

All this fun was topped off with local actors performing the first few scenes (helpful for reading the play script not a book).

I would wager that Harry Potter’s impact on our culture will be studiedIMG_2110 for years, but it did make me wonder how we can capture this excitement around characters and stories for all the books we share with our kids. Probably the most important component is actually sharing the books, which becomes harder as our kids get older.

Recently, my daughter and her friends quizzed the CLiF staff on their Harry knowledge. The quiz’s creation took up a chunk of time – good for me and good for them. Kids love to show they know more than their parents; a kid-created quiz seems like a good way to discuss a shared book. How else can we as parents connect with our kids through the books they read?

CLiF just updated its list of Literacy Activities – many of these could be adapted for family use, Character Facebook profiles, Drop Everything and Read, Question Boards, Dictionary Words to name a few.

Granted, few parents have time to plan themed meals and dress up events around every book, but a simple activity gives our kid’s the space to tell their adults about a book they read or to discuss a book the family read or to understand a book they read that is outside the comfort zone.

Maybe this is how we parents can make Harry’s magic endure – by helping our kids to find a similar (probably not the same) enthusiasm/obsession for other books.

Harry Potter poster spotted in Bath, ME.

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