Reading about the Harry Potter Alliance was really fascinating and inspiring for me. The Harry Potter series has always been influential in my life. I read the series about once a year and may or may not have multiple Harry Potter tattoos.
This year, I did what I’ve wanted to do for years. I started reading the first Harry Potter book as a shared reading with my fifth graders. I’ve wanted to read Harry Potter with a class since my first year teaching, but I was always intimidated by parent push-back. Many parents won’t let their children read Harry Potter due to the magic. Especially if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. This has always been really hard for me because I know that the Harry Potter stories relate to real-world issues. By placing Harry in a magical world, the discrimination against Muggles and Muggle-borns seems like a fantasy issue. However, it is relevant to many types of real-world discrimination today. The stories teach about acceptance, equality, and friendship. This year I decided to just bite the bullet and read the book with my students. I emailed families letting them know we were going to read it, and not one parent complained. I’ve now begun introducing my students to the magical world that has been so meaningful to me.
Reading about the HPA was wonderful because it shows how Harry Potter can relate to real-world issues and advocacy. I’ve been working with my students on ways that they can be more informed citizens of the world. We’ve been following politicians and scientists on Twitter and using the internet to research and answer questions we have (making sure to keep media bias and sources in mind when researching). We’ve also been looking closely at media and making sure that they can think critically about what they’re seeing in advertisements. I’m excited to continue reading Harry Potter with them to see what ways we can incorporate the lessons from this story into our education about citizenship and civic engagement.