My son Ben was in 3rd grade, 9 years old. His teacher at Spofford Pond Elementary School, Samantha Mercier had been to London over spring break and came back with a new book to read the class after lunch. It was called “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. She read this book to the class in 15 minute segments every day.
It started simply enough. I’d ask Ben “How was school?”. One day he answered “Harry has a scar like a lightning bolt”. Another day he answered “Harry can play Quidditch” and “Harry can talk to Snakes”. Soon he was talking about Harry Potter non-stop. Complete obsession. Through Ben I learned about a giant named Hagrid, a school named Hogwarts, and He Who Must Not Be Named. Just what was this Harry Potter? It seems obvious now, but not in the beginning.
I stopped by the classroom one morning to ask the intrepid Mrs. Mercier about this book that had so captivated my son. She said the kids begged her to keep reading it beyond the 15 minutes each day and that she had started rewarding good behavior with additional reading minutes. Wow … a book that 9-year olds can’t stop reading?
By June the book was done and Harry Potter had emerged as the “every kid” hero. On the last day of school Ben came home from Miss Mercier’s class with a package. Taped to his report card was a book, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, the UK edition. This public school teacher had purchased a copy of the second book for every child in her third grade class. My son read that book in 3 days straight and proclaimed it the BEST BOOK EVER. Harry Potter may have been the hero, but the real hero was Samantha Mercier. Maybe the BEST TEACHER EVER for inspiring a love of reading .
I’ll watch the last movie this weekend and will be a little sad to see the end of this beloved series, but I’m sure that Harry Potter will hold a special place for all the kids who grew up with Harry. And for all the Moms and Dads who got to live the experience of growing up with Harry Potter – both the kid in the book and the kids in our house, say a thank you to JK Rowling for inspiring a life long love of reading and the excitement when the Fedex truck appeared with 3 copies of the Deathly Hallows so that no one had to wait to read it .