To be honest, I’ll probably continue to reread the Harry Potter series until the day I die. It’s like that tear-jerking fan quote, which people have wrongfully attributed to Alan Rickman (because it makes it more “meaningful,” even if it’s a lie): “When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ And I will say, ‘Always’.”
It doesn’t matter that Harry Potter isn’t the most well-written series (don’t throw stones at me! It’s a children’s book turned young adult! It was meant for younger audiences and therefore has a more simplistic writing style!). I was eleven when I read the first book, and for almost every year after that, until I turned seventeen, I grew up with Harry and got to go through the books at the same age as the characters. The story has a great message, and it’s something that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. Harry Potter, arguably, is one of the books that made me want to become a writer in the first place.
It’s nostalgia at play, really.
When Calvin is old enough to really understand what’s going on, I plan on reading the Harry Potter series to him (and to whatever siblings he has at the time). I also plan on reading some of my other favorite books from my adolescence, including The Giver, The Sight and Firebringer, as well as the Artemis Fowl series (even though this series started to really grate on my nerves by the end–and I guess there are new books now!). And, when my husband and I were up in Spokane visiting family, I spontaneously bought another book I love if only for nostalgia’s sake: Inkheart.
To be honest, I haven’t read Inkheart in years. Ten years, to be precise. I picked it up my freshman year of high school and ripped through the whole thing cover-to-cover in a matter of days. Later I found out there were two more books to the series, Inkspell and Inkdeath. I haven’t read either of them because I heard that my favorite character died in the second one and I didn’t want to deal with that (little did I know at the time that my favorite characters were doomed to die so I should have just gotten over it while I was young). I found the whole series for just fifteen bucks at a Hastings up in Washington, so of course, I bought it.
I’m a little nervous to reread the series, to tell you the truth. Unlike Harry Potter, I didn’t really grow up with Inkheart. The characters aren’t as ingrained in my childhood memories as those from JK Rowling’s wizarding world are. At the same time, though, I remember really, truly loving the first novel, and I couldn’t help but pick it up.
But I’m a very different reader now than I was in high school. I’ve mentioned a couple of times in a few blogs why I don’t read young adult novels. They don’t challenge me as a writer and they don’t truly grip me as a reader because I now struggle to really relate to the main characters’ problems. Mostly, though, I enjoy reading writing designed for older audiences because it (typically) is more detailed and rich than young adult novels are, even if the stories are equally powerful.
I also didn’t enjoy The Hunger Games as much as I was led to believe I was, so naturally, I’m a little skeptical of jumping into another three-book-long, young adult series, even if it is one that I have a prior emotional connection to.
Regardless, young adult novels like Inkheart, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games are excellent for storytime with children. Not only do they bridge the gap between kid’s stories and adult’s stories, but they are not so complex that children cannot understand them while being sufficiently complex enough to keep kids on the edge of their seats, waiting to know what happened.
So, for the next few months before Calvin’s born, I’m going to reread Inkheart and start on the rest of the series to see if I really do love it as much as I used to. Hopefully I do, because I’m sure I’ll be reading it out loud to my kids someday–and then they can deal with the nostalgia-attachment to old books that I’m dealing with now!