In honor of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone;

Those who know me well, know very well that I love to read. I used to read all the time and would zoom through books. (I’d still read like crazy if I had more hours in the day!) My parents quickly learned it was cheaper to just take me to the library than buying me a new book every three days (or less!). But it wasn’t always that way. Due to a teacher with a Harry Potter obsession, everything changed.

In second grade (or maybe first?) I had to see a specialized reading teacher. I had a special book I would need to read twice and once out loud. My reading comprehension wasn’t the best. I liked books. I didn’t love them.

Then came fourth grade. New school. New friends. And a new goofy teacher. She decided to read a chapter of the first Harry Potter book to us every week. Most kids goofed off, growing bored. I sat there, wanting to hear more. Why couldn’t we read TWO chapters a week? Once the book was finished, she told us that there was more books in the series (I think only up to Goblet of Fire was out at this time) and encouraged us to try reading them on our own. If we needed help with certain words or to talk about the story, we could come to her before or after school.

I told my mom about them. She bought me every single book. I couldn’t put them down. I went through countless book lights and batteries, staying up past my bed time to finish the next chapter, or three.

As the years progressed, Mom made sure to preorder every single book until the very end. It was bittersweet when Deathly Hollows was announced as the last novel. (Well until the screenplay in 2016).

Because of Harry Potter, I became an avid reader. The summer months would find me with my nose in a book. I would enroll in summer reading programs at the library, filling up countless logs with the books I read.

I went from reading on my grade level, to being a sixth-grader reading on a tenth-grade plus level. While my friends read Young Adult novels around 100 pages, I sought out 600 page books with intricate storylines. Something that would be harder to read and take me more than a day to get through. While my friends gave book reports on Meg Cabot books, I did mine on “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Eragon.” I went from being in regular reading classes to being in the advanced classes (one year my class only had a handful of students in it!). I pushed myself to take Honors English throughout high school, looking for more complex novels that would challenge me.

Thank you J.K. Rowling for influencing my love of reading. You opened a whole new world to me. I hope you never stop writing.