Happy 20th anniversary to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!  We put the books out on display at work today, and I felt so happy and proud to see them standing there at the front of the library. I can hardly believe it’s been that long,  it seems just yesterday that I fell in love with the magical world of witches and wizards and the great big castle filled with wonders and horrors. Oh, how I adore those old and battered books.

Harry Potter meant so much to me when I was a kid. The books brought me a lot of comfort and hope at a time when I was really struggling to fit in and make friends with my peers. They made me feel like it was okay to be different, a little weird and a little wonky. Just so long as you had your wand at the ready!

I grew up immersed in a place where you were valued for your bravery, your cleverness, your daring and your loyalty. A place where it was love, above it all, which conquered. A place where the superficial things didn’t much matter but instead seemed to slip away as I read. Gone were the difficult school days, the harsh words and the disdainful looks. Here was Harry and here was I and together we could prevail and be victorious. It was a true sanctuary.

And oh my goodness – the adventures the books would take me on! The thrills they gave me! What a reading experience that was, to be so engulfed in darkness that I could hardly see a way out, to come through it all unscathed. It was surreal to look up and realise that the world was, in fact, not falling apart in front of my eyes, but instead lay quite still. A silent witness to the challenges I overcame together with Harry.

I still listen to the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry almost every night, and it is such a wondrous and magical way to fall asleep. I don’t think I’ll ever quite outgrow the way in which I can disappear in Harry’s story, and what a comfort that is.

So today I want to say, to JK Rowling, who saved me, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for my childhood adventure.

And now I’ll leave you with a favourite quote of mine.

‘Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.’ – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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