When Are You Going to Outgrow Harry Potter?

by Amy Luder

When I was younger, Harry was my best friend. We were conveniently the same age at the same time, so we effectively grew up together. Harry was my solace and my confidant. I knew that no matter how bad my day had been, I could always rely on Harry and his friends to cheer me up. We had many similarities (with the exception that a Dark Lord didn’t try and kill me every year), I really felt like I could relate to Harry in ways I couldn’t relate to my ‘real life’ friends.

I naturally decorated my bedroom and school books in dedication to the Harry Potter series and attentively followed the fandom sites so that I could have my daily dose of Potter. I attended midnight showings and queued to get the books the minute that they were released. I ensured that I read the new books within a day so that I couldn’t stumble upon any spoilers. The Deathly Hallows was released when I was sixteen. I felt as if part of me had died and I went through a mourning process. It was then that I started being told I would outgrow Harry Potter, finally, now it was ‘over’. However, there were still four movies to be released. How could I outgrow something that was still such an integral part of my life?

With each movie that was released, those words were repeated again and again – “Isn’t it time you outgrew Harry Potter?” I couldn’t understand, Harry was part of who I was, how could you outgrow something so entwined with your own identity? In June 2011 I was married, I didn’t need to think twice about where we should go for our Honeymoon – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. With less than a month to the final movie release, this felt like a fitting trip to dedicate to Harry. The experience was one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have, but it was mixed with such sadness, it was almost time to say bye to Harry. Would this be the time I would outgrow Harry?

The very same night that I had visited the theme park, JK Rowling surprised me again, she announced Pottermore! Whilst we were still in Florida, I ensured I was part of the Beta program. How could I outgrow Potter now, after JK Rowling had given us this amazing gift? Three weeks after my return to England, it was time to witness the last movie. So I devotedly queued for the final midnight showing. It was a bittersweet experience but the announcement of Pottermore made it slightly easier to handle. How could I outgrow Harry now? There was so much happening in the Potter world!

I decided the best tribute to Harry that I could offer now, was a Harry Potter tattoo. I spent a long time scouring the books looking for the perfect dedication. I finally settled with the quote “It’s real for us.” Why? Well this summarised my relationship with Harry perfectly, Snape couldn’t have put it better. Harry really did feel real to me and as Dumbledore said “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Soon after, Pottermore was finally opened and I was sorted into Hufflepuff. Suddenly I had a whole new community I belonged to and more amazing writing from JK Rowling to discover. Now was certainly not the time to outgrow Harry, especially with the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio. The studio is only four hours away from me, so I made the pilgrimage. This awakened a whole new love for the Potter film series; there was no chance of me outgrowing Harry Potter any time soon, not after this newfound appreciation of the Potter universe.

So when will I outgrow Harry? I honestly don’t feel I ever will. How can I outgrow such a central part of my life? Particularly now there are such frequent new developments in the Potter world! Pottermore is ever expanding, as are the size and amount of Potter theme parks and the biggest thing of all, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is yet to come. Although not focusing on Harry himself, this is going to be such a huge insight into the Potter world and finally focusing on a fellow Hufflepuff. I even have the perfect excuse (if I even need one) to become completely immersed in these movies. I have a new baby son, (unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to call him Harry) whose mind is just waiting to be filled with Harry Potter. I’m so excited to experience Fantastic Beasts with him, to be able to buy the memorabilia and decorate his bedroom with all things Scamander. I just hope that when he is old enough, he will love the Potter books and movies, as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, as much as I do.

With so much to look forward to, I feel it will be impossible to outgrow Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a vast part of my life and always will be. After all, JK Rowling herself said “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” Always.

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  • Nicole L Rivera

    A girl after my own heart. I fell in love with Harry the summer after I turned 16. The first three books were out. I read them all in a week. When I was on study abroad in college and I was home sick (this is pre-ebook), I went to an Italian book shop and pick up the latest installment (book 5) in English and reread it. There was just something about Harry that made me feel okay, made me feel home. When will we out grow Harry? I hope never. The question should be, when will we fully grow into Harry?
    Great post!

  • Clara Scholz

    I can totally relate you you, honestly. When I was nine years old I read Order of the Phoenix and fell in love with the series. It sounds crazy, as JK doesn’t write in TOO much detail, but sometimes it’s like Harry’s world is more real to me than my own! It’s not like I don’t have a life outside of the books – in fact, I doubt my boyfriend even is aware of my obsession! But there’s something so comforting about the series. When I go to England, I actually feel MORE at home there than I do in Canada! It’s like I’m discovering a lost, British, part of myself. Many years have passed since I was nine, and despite not watching a HP movie every weekend anymore I still feel so in touch with that world, if this doesn’t sound crazy!

  • I’m a year younger than you and went through all those same moments! And frankly, I get tired of this question. I am not going to outgrow Harry (or Disney or dressing up or any of that), and I know that because there are members of my HP Meetup who are my grandmother’s age. To quote the Parselmouths, “This is never, this is never gonna end. It really can’t end, ’cause we’ve made too damn many friends.”

  • declan casey

    The “when will you outgrow harry potter” question always pisses me off. People seem to think it’s this cute, childish little series. I don’t know why. Yes, kids read it, but past the 2nd, maybe 3rd book and movie, it is so clearly not a children’s story anymore. There’s death, violence, torture, incredibly deep messages and themes, sexual tension, tragedy, and some great humor. It’s not something to be outgrown. It’s a series that spans ages 9 or 10 to 100, and really resonates with the 12 to 30 year old crowd. It is more commonly considered a young adult series, and is more on par with series like The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, and novels like The Fault in Our Stars than it is with series like Magic Tree House and Percy Jackson. Hell, some of the content in Harry Potter is even more mature and/or dark than in the first three listed. In fact, Harry Potter gets so dark, I’m surprised kids are even allowed to read them. Again, it is not a series that you grow out of. Harry Potter is about the loss of innocence. By no means are the first two installments completely devoid of dark themes, loss, and violence. But there needs to be that innocence, therefore JK Rowling merely states the violence, but she doesn’t throw it in our faces in the first installments, because her protagonists are younger, more naive, carefree, and they see things through a pair of rose colored spectacles, that, over the course of the series, get slowly destroyed. Throughout the series, the veil of innocence is removed one layer at a time, each veil bringing something new: increased violence and blood, more pressing teenage issues, sexual interest, a more sophisticated sense of humor, and more threat, until we get to the seventh book, where the last layer of innocence has been removed, and we are left with a fairly deadly, bloody, and complicated jumble of destruction, tragedy, and hopelessness. This is a perfect way to show the trials and tribulations of growing up. JK Rowling perfectly mixes high drama and action with more everyday, relaxed situations perfectly. She adds a dash of fantasy with a great helping of reality. The wizarding world really isn’t that far removed from the real one. Deaths occur by both magical and realistic means, and the only way you would know that you were at a school dance for wizards would be the snow falling from the ceiling, for example. They deal with exams and classes, crushes, deal with romance and sexual relationships, navigate friendships, and deal with human issues. Not all characters are black and white, and contrary to popular opinion, the good vs evil theme that runs through the books isn’t that played out. It’s not presented in the outwardly more childish ways in which a superhero film or a star wars film might present it, for example. There’s a subtlety to it. The description of rape through love potion, the incestual habits of pureblood families, and the depiction of obsessive desire and sexual lust as opposed to love, in the case of Bellatrix and Greyback, shows us how dark the books actually are. Patricide, matricide, infanticide, self-mutilation, suicide, tragedy, death by means both realistic and magical, horror, romance, even smaller instances of intoxication and profanity…they all play a part in the series. It’s just told in such an indescribably tactful way that, (and by ‘indescribably tactful’ I don’t mean filtered or watered down. When things were dark in HP, as they often were, they weren’t sugar coated,) even with these things present in the books, it appeals to a wide range of people, both young and old, and I think it’s down to the fact that, if given an explanation for the dark, violent scenes, or scenes that involve messier teenage/adult issues, they’ll be able to deal with extreme violence and emotional stress. Kids can handle far more than what we give them credit for. Alongside these, we get messages of the importance of trust, self-sacrifice, friendship, love, and the negatives of oppressive governments, racial intolerance, and fascism. She has stated that the series is a cry for an end to bigotry. We are given characters that are good, but make mistakes, and characters that are bad, and occasionally work for the force of good. It’s a story that applies to every generation. So, no, you don’t just outgrow Harry Potter. And that is why the series is so special, universal, and magical. The same goes for the movies, too. People just really need to put in the time and read all the books or at least watch all the films. If they’re only reading/watching the first two or three installments, all they’re getting is the initial innocence, and that is the reason why we have so many people who speak of Harry Potter like its a children’s series. Too many people are trying to categorize and patronize the series, labeling it a ‘children’s series’, when they don’t know half of the story yet and haven’t allowed the plot to thicken.

  • Michelle Carroll

    If any of the people who ask have read Joseph Campbell, they would know we never outgrow them. We just update myths to relay the values and morals inherent in our culture. We don’t outgrow Potter, just as we don’t outgrow The Iliad, Beowulf, King Arthur, or Spiderman. It’s the monomyth, yeah.

  • Maggie

    I feel the same way. They say that as children, there are certain things we need to learn, mostly involving fairy tales. But who says we can’t take them with us everywhere we go?