I began reading in kindergarten. First my dad read to me, then I began picking up my own books. By first grade, I was devouring Magic Treehouse books. I enjoyed reading, but I wouldn’t say I was in love with it.
In the third grade, I began reading Harry Potter. I was completely against it at first, but my sister eventually convinced me to give it a try. That’s when I fell in love. I zipped through each book, and because I volunteered in the library, I got to check out the next book before my library day (nerd perks! 😛). When we reached 1000 books, the librarian (who we’d become very close with) celebrated by giving us small gifts. I was given a Harry Potter bookmark that I used day in and day out.
At the age of 9 I had a few friends, but I didn’t have a best friend, nor anyone I was super close to. So Harry, Ron, and Hermione became my best friends. When I sat on the bus by myself, I wasn’t completely alone. “Harry’s my best friend,” I’d joke. And it wasn’t a lie.
I carried the books with me everywhere–they never left my side. I didn’t even dare put them in my backpack. The books became a part of who I was.
I had become obsessed with Harry Potter. I was now dressing as the characters from a series I’d previously scoffed at. When I went to Harry Potter Universal Studios, I wore a long sleeved, white button down shirt and a black cloak in 90º+ weather, because I had to be “authentic”.
Time went on, I entered fourth grade, and I finally found a best friend, a few actually. But I never let go of reading. In fact, it was during fourth grade that I fell in love with writing.
Ever since, I have not been able to let go of reading, and I hope I never do. Now, at almost 16, I can proudly declare myself a Ravenclaw (back then Gryffindor seemed like the only respectable option), and I continue to reference Harry Potter with my friends.
I don’t know for certain, but I have a hunch that if not for Harry Potter, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with reading so deeply. It wasn’t just the escape, it was the friendship and the loyalty. Harry never abandoned me. He didn’t eat lunch with his other friends. He didn’t tease me about the boy I liked. And he never made me feel like I was alone.
It’s a message I still have to remind myself of today, when high school drama is at its highest and nothing seems to be going right — that happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.