The original book might have come out in 1997, but Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone set off a chain reaction that has rippled throughout the world as generations of children grew up devouring the books, films, memorabilia, and more. It's more than just a book or series of books: it's a way of life for many Potter-generation kids who are now becoming parents themselves.
As for how the books shaped multiple generations, it's been said that people who read Harry Potter tend to develop (or further hone) traits like empathy, honesty, integrity, loyalty, and a handful of other positive personality components. As far as parenting goes, who wouldn't want their children to be familiar with and learn those values?
So it shouldn't be surprising that so many people who are Potter-generation parents have many things in common when it comes to raising kids. They can be embarrassing, sure, but they also have their kids' best interests at heart with everything from their self-esteem to their ability to read and comprehend quality literature.
Though there have been critics who poke fun at people—parents, in particular—for placing such a high level of importance on a fictional universe, Potter-generation parents are creating a movement that embodies everything J.K. Rowling taught them to stand up for. Here are 20 things they tend to have in common in that endeavor.
A lot of adults these days aren't really fans of reading. But Potter-generation parents? Not only were we reading the books as they were being published, but we also learned to love reading more than we would have otherwise. After all, it's impossible to name another series that was iconic as Harry Potter was in the '90s (and beyond). So it makes sense that as parents, we're stocking our shelves with tons of books, and not just ones by Rowling. Our kids will know all the classics, sure, but they'll also get to experience all kinds of other stories, too.
While the classic versions of Harry Potter, whether hard-cover or soft, are still hugely popular these days, some even fetching a pretty penny online, parents who grew up with the stories are finding new ways to enjoy them (and with their kids, too). Now there are illustrated versions of the books (although we're still waiting around for the entire illustrated series to drop), plus you can get every one of the movies in just a few clicks on Amazon. Because after all, you can never have too much Harry Potter, whatever form it comes in. At least, that's what we're teaching our kids.
For a lot of parents who were part of the Potter generation, it's always been in the back of their minds that they'd share HP with their own kids one day. Of course, it wasn't a question of if, but rather, when. After all, kids are really impressionable, and starting when they're babies, we begin making choices for them that will impact the rest of their lives. The thing is, choosing to introduce them to the literal magic that is Harry Potter is one of the most important decisions we'll make. What's not so important is the timing, though sooner is better than later.
As a mom who purchased the entire set of Harry Potter DVDs "for the kids," I can attest to the fact that most Potter-generation parents really aren't all that altruistic. I mean, we want our kids to read and learn and enjoy life, right, but we also want to watch (and re-watch) the Harry Potter films multiple times. And who else loves to watch the same movie over and over? Our toddlers! Of course, the more verbal your kid is, the more you'll have to field questions about what's happening and why, but that was going to come at some point already, anyway.
Plenty of people who are now adults have expressed the ways that reading Harry Potter helped them manage a variety of difficult situations in childhood. From the kids who were reluctant readers due to dyslexia to the kids who, like Harry, had also lost one or both parents, an entire generation learned both to love reading and to believe in themselves. This early connection with literature helped morph those reluctant kids into voracious readers in their teens and through to adulthood, something that they're now passing on to the next generation. And it didn't take reading boring books to do it!
Even though J.K. Rowling's series is aimed at upper elementary to early teen ages, the books clearly appeal to people of all ages. And that includes kids who aren't even ready to read yet but who are learning the HP lore from their parents or older siblings. Even if your kids can't read yet, as a Potter-generation parent, you've probably already introduced them to the stories and beloved characters. You may even have decorated your infant's nursery with colors from your favorite Hogwarts house, and that contributed to their desire to know what the Harry Potter series is all about.
Plenty of parents joke about taking their 11-year-old offspring to Platform 9 3/4 and convincing them to run their trolleys into the concrete barrier. But there are Potter-generation parents who are less devious about their plans to continue the magic with their kids. They might feel inspired to write their kids' Hogwarts acceptance letters, take them to pick out a wand, or just visit one of the magical Harry Potter exhibits at their favorite theme park. As grown-up kids who wished so much for the magic of the books to be real, it's tough to let the magic fade for our own kids as they grow up.
Although every Potter-generation parent no doubt wishes the stories of Harry and his friends would never end, technically, they already did. But with J.K. Rowling's crazy success and her drive to satiate fans, she's gone on to create Pottermore, an online website solely dedicated to the HP fanbase, plus she's been involved in projects like the live production of The Cursed Child and, of course, Fantastic Beasts. She's also impressively active on Twitter, constantly sharing tidbits that frequently knock our socks off, like the origins of Voldemort's snake, Nagini. Really, J.K.? Can't we leave anything to our kids' imaginations?
If you're a Potter-generation parent whose kids are either too young for the movies or just haven't seen them yet, it's almost jarring when you see one of the actors in another film or project and automatically think "that's Harry" or "that's Ron" or "that's Hermione." Because, after all, to us, those actors were most iconic in the Harry Potter franchise, and though we don't begrudge them the opportunity to add to their acting resumes, we just can't get used to the fact that Hermione is now Belle and other such confusing scenarios. And sure, they've grown up a bit, but to us, they'll always be that magical trio.
While some Potter-gen parents may have been waiting with bated breath for their offspring to be old enough to enjoy the Potter-verse, many of us are sorely disappointed. Maybe your kids just aren't into the stories, or maybe they read the books but didn't feel the same attachment to them as you did. Either way, it's frustrating as a well-meaning parent when your kid just doesn't get how iconic the character of Dumbledore was, or how Snape was such a complex and layered being. Uncovering the mysteries of Harry Potter was one of the delights of our childhoods, so it's tough to see our kids pass on it.
On the other hand, there are plenty of kids in the up-and-coming generation who are just as thrilled about HP as we were (let's be honest, we still are). That means lots of in-depth discussions about character development, discrepancies between the books and movies, and waiting on the edge of our seats as the Fantastic Beasts franchise made its debut and as it continues to roll out new films. Especially if your spouse isn't a mega-fan, having a child who's as into the magical universe as you are is a serious parenting accomplishment. We have done something right as parents, thank you very much.
As parents who are passionate about literature (albeit, usually a very specific kind of literature), Potter-generation moms and dads recognize that there's immense educational value in J.K. Rowling's books. Not only is there great vocabulary and imaginative happenings, but there are also stories about friendship, honesty, love, and more. The values that we want to instill in our kids are already in these books, so why wouldn't we encourage our kids to explore this magical universe? Besides, it's a journey we're taking together, and anything that gets parents more involved in their kids' reading, and their education overall, is phenomenal.
Kids these days will never understand the excitement of waiting for the newest Harry Potter release, both the books and the movies, but at least we can experience the joyous occasion that is Fantastic Beasts together! Part of what Potter-gen parents love so much about J.K. Rowling's universe is that it doesn't stop with Harry and his offspring. The development of the backstory via Fantastic Beasts gives us even more to geek out over with our kids, and to see them just as excited as we are is highly rewarding. And since they're slated to produce a total of six of the current installment of the HP universe, there's a lot of bonding to be had with our kiddos.
Handing our kids the Harry Potter novels or setting them down in front of the movies comes with a certain amount of trust in them and in our parenting. After all, the series deals with a lot of tough topics. From navigating friendships and loyalty to staying true to who you are no matter what dark things you're facing, these books are serious subject matter. But for Potter-generation parents, we can use Potterisms to explain things, like how the kids fighting back against Umbridge (and Voldemort, of course) was both the right thing and the hardest thing to do—something that's also applicable in the real world.
One of the most fun things about Hogwarts is all the traditions and meaning behind the houses. Therefore, Sorting is one of the most important steps to welcoming your newest Potter-gen tot into the fold. Potter-generation parents are always on the lookout for certain traits in their kids, trying to ensure they nurture their kids' positive traits and their natural tendencies toward things they're good at or passionate about. Regardless of whatever House our kids are, we know we're going to help shape them into upstanding magical citizens—but we do need to know what color wardrobe to invest in and what color to paint the nursery.
As a parent, you probably deal with the struggle of watching your kid make friends with children you wish they would have stayed away from instead. From kids who have a tendency to pick on others to those who are almost annoyingly upbeat and curious, you probably don't like every one of your child's friends. And so Potter-gen parents might find themselves considering what House their kids' friends would be in, whether their most annoying personality traits may turn out to be beneficial in tough situations, and whether they speak Parseltongue at home with mom and dad (or in other, more mysterious places).
Most parents who approve of their kids reading Harry Potter—and those who have read it for themselves—tend to be a bit more open-minded than parents who outright refuse to let their kids indulge in the stories. But the thing is, as a parent, having a bit of a magical spirit is a surprisingly positive thing. It helps us connect with our kids, keeps us grounded, and kind of helps keep us feeling young. After all, what good is being a grown-up if you don't get to act a little childish every so often with your own kids? And that includes buying yourself an Elder Wand replica for your birthday if you want it!
While there have been a handful of blockbuster hits—both in terms of book series and movies—since Harry and his friends made their way into our hearts, nothing truly compares. As well-thought-out and far-reaching as J.K. Rowling's universe is, you really can't stack a single book or series of books up against it. And today, as much as some books have taken off, no other world has inspired or connected as many people as Harry Potter did, and continues to do, since the first novel debuted. And the comparisons with Twilight? Most Potter-gen parents are not impressed by your lack of respect for J.K. Rowling, thank you very much.
Although there are some classic novels—including series—that have stuck around over the decades (and even centuries), they often tend to fade after a while. Books like The Boxcar Children, for example, were huge with many millennials. But now? You're hard-pressed to find them on a library book shelf, let alone in a modern book store. The same goes for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, as unfortunate as that is for many avid readers of our generation. We just hope HP has the staying power that so many other beloved stories we recall from our childhoods seem to lack.
Many Potter-generation parents are already at the point where they're embarrassing their kids with their lack of modern text-speak or the fact that they're lagging behind when it comes to current trends (Fortnite dances, anyone?). And while we acknowledge that we are, in fact, getting old, we refuse to outright accept it. We might be "too old" for re-reading Harry Potter or binge-watching the movies multiple times or catching the midnight release of the next installment of Fantastic Beasts, but we won't apologize for it. After all, it's up to us to inspire the next generation and keep the HP universe alive.