(Image above: Photographer unknown.)
I would say that J.K. Rowling's books had a profound effect on a good chunk of my childhood. My parents and siblings loved the books, especially my father.
He and I used to stay up at Barnes and Noble for their midnight sale to buy a copy of the latest Harry Potter book every time one was released.
I used to sit in the cafe, eating "chocolate frogs" and "Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans" pretending I was in Diagon alley until they called our names, usually around 4 AM.
My father even made his own version of Butter Beer and Pumpkin juice, neither of which were quite as splendid as I had imagined them to be.
I grew up listening to Harry Potter either on tape or by my parents reading it aloud.
We started listening to it in the car on our long road trips every year from Texas to Wisconsin.
When we were home, I used to make forts out of two chairs facing away from each other, with blankets draped across the top making a narrow space I would hide in and make a bed out of sleeping bags and blankets, with a boombox beside me playing chapter after chapter of J.K. Rowling's lovely books to lull me to sleep.
My parents were both witches, but in a pagan sense, nothing like the characters in Harry Potter books. Women and Men were both considered witches, wizards and warlocks were something completely different, and no one could really explain to me what a real equivalent to a wizard or warlock was. No one made candles float in mid-air, or cast spells with a wand. However, the fact that "witch" has been used in so many different ways, from green Wizard of Oz witches, to my parents, to anyone magical and female in the Potter books, made things confusing to me. Especially when I heard about the Potter protesters who were against promoting "witchcraft" to children when I knew from my parents that, other than the word witch, there was absolutely no connection to what my parents were and what the characters in the book were.
From age eight to eleven my mother helped me pretend Harry Potter was real.
She would do something called "Tree Mail". What this was, was me writing a letter to Hogwarts, tying the paper to a tree, then the next day it would be gone and in a few days I would get a reply. She would tell me that an owl had come to pick it up and drop it off.
It was always really exciting for me to find a scroll in a tree, but really anything in the mail was terribly wonderful to me.
Some of the replies were lessons, English, math, botany, science, and sometimes fictional things like reading Hagrid's monster manual and then writing essays on the creatures.
My mom would always print the letters from Hagrid on a decorated paper that was supposed to look like it had coffee stains on it, despite the stains being slightly purple or pinkish because our printer was low on black ink.
I always knew it was her, just like Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, but when I was Eleven I wrote her the letter shown above which reads: "Dear Dumbledore, I wanted to ask when will I be accepted to Hogwarts. I am 11; I thought 11 was the right age? Please respond. I have a eMail:
Please respond either by Tree Mail or eMail.
P.S. If I am accepted to Hogwarts, I have no money. What am I supposed to do?
Dumbledore never replied, and even though I knew it was not real, a little part of me still hoped I would get whisked away to a fantasy land of wizards and witches. Alas, the day still hasn't come.