I’m currently reading the Harry Potter series…for the first time. I know, I know–what took me so long?!
Coincidentally, in one of my Human Development classes I recently read a research study called “Putting Harry Potter on the Bench” by Colman Noctor. It proposed something that intrigued me: Harry Potter is the solution to our problems.
Now that sounds a little funny.
The study is from a clinical psychotherapy treatment center where they use Therapeutic Story Time. Early on, the director was having trouble connecting to the youth. But it was all changed for the better when he brought in Harry Potter. Suddenly, the youth opened up about problems they had never discussed before. They talked about their biggest fears and made significant, life-changing goals because they were using Harry Potter to describe their situations and help them overcome their problems. Here are some examples of how the youth applied Harry Potter:
- The Patronus Charm: This taught the youth to think of the happiest thought they have when they are feeling depressed or overcome by sadness (a.k.a., the dementors).
- The Mirror of Erised: The youth talked about what their hopes and dreams are. As the weeks continued and they revisited this topic, their goals helped them improve and work through their problems.
- The Boggarts: In a group discussion, everyone took a turn saying what the boggart would form if they were in front of it. With this prompt, they began sharing their greatest fears. But instead of focusing on the problem, they would say, like in Harry Potter, how to “solve” the problem. Just as Harry learned to use humor to cope with his greatest fear, the teenagers verbalized how they could similarly implement humor to help them cope with their greatest fears.
- Lord Voldemort: Everyone has bad things in their lives they have to defeat. The youth discussed how these hardships are part of us, but overcoming them makes us stronger.
This study amazed me. It reminded me of the power of books. Now, Harry Potter most likely won’t help you through all of your problems, but other books can. Pride and Prejudice can help you learn to not judge others. Les Miserables can inspire you to become a better person, like Jean Valjean. The books you read are always teaching you something.
Here’s a personal example. I couldn’t say my R’s until second grade. I vividly remember reading Wodney Wat (a book we sent out a few months ago in our picture book boxes), and how it made me not to feel alone–that there were others who struggled just as I did.
Now, I’m not saying that all books teach healthy lessons. We need to be careful about what books we read because they all impact us.
So what are your children learning from their books? Maybe they’re learning knowledge, such as numbers, colors, and animals. Or perhaps they’re learning manners and kindness when they read about friendship and respect. Have they learned how to stand up to bullies from Harry standing up to Malfoy?
Books are powerful. Their messages help us cope with problems and challenge us to be better.
What is your favorite book, and how has it helped you? What about your child’s favorite book?