Lightning Bolt on Forehead

Saw the new (and last) Harry Potter movie the weekend it opened. Not opening night … no, that was reserved for the truly serious fans. I raised two of them, one of whom attended the midnight show dressed as Tonks. One of her party was dressed as a Crookshanks (a cat) and another as Fawkes (a phoenix), so picking the feature-fluid Tonks seemed pretty main stream.

Rowling, Potter and friends (feathered, furred and otherwise) have been a huge part of my kids childhood. My daughter was 7 when the books arrived in the US … my son only 4 … and we read them, chapter by chapter, each night before bed. We started with a very careful review of the small sketch that fronted each chapter, as from then on in, the only pictures seen were the ones created in your own head. Not difficult for 7 but more challenging for 4, who rose to the occasion admirably.

Rowling is adding a new dimension to our Harry Potter experience.  A website called PotterMore, that will be open to the public in October, but is allowing for early registrants to try to catch the site during the registration time, answer a Harry Potter trivia question and then – hopefully – get processed and assigned a new magical user name. A quick and low expectation check found me on the site during registration. While I had a brief debate with myself, I decided to register. I knew the answer to the question, have read every word, seen every movie and even knitted at least two HP scarves and a Weasley-esque sweater.  So … call me SparksSkull. That is what they’ll be calling me at PotterMore.

There are a few more days of registration and then there will be staggered admission into the site for previews and early user feedback. Rowling has promised additional information about the world of Potter as well as access to the digital and ebook versions of the stories. The video she has on the landing page is worth a watch for a literal version of turning words into pictures.

My daughter also got in today … so this will be one more HP thing we can share and for that alone, I am excited. In fact almost everyone in her apartment is now registered and ready for More Potter.

Anyway … back to my title. The scar on Harry’s forehead … said lightning bolt … is a sign of survival, distinction and a healing wound in the book (and lots more … but this is blogging not lit crit), but for the readers, it is a symbol of the lightning flash of inspiration, of thoughts to think and ideas to hatch. That is the true magic of HP.

The books grew more complex, both in the concepts and in the constructs, as Harry and readers grew older. The many-year storyline, kept them guessing and thinking and supposing right along with Harry. I can’t even speak to the hours we discussed Snape and whether he was a bad guy, a good guy or just a guy. The household was always Team Snape, for even at his darkest, we could at least try to explain things so that he was cast in a warmer light.

All of that, from vocab and story structure to character analysis and explaining personal bias, is part of what HP brings to kids. And that is inspirational. And magic, landing like a lightning bolt that doesn’t leave a scar, but certainly leaving an impression.

Words are magic, as the movie version reminds us. And when kids encounter that magic early, the scars are deep and lasting, with amazing results when it comes to reading, writing and test-taking skills.

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