My dad, Harry Potter and me

Harry Potter. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)
Harry Potter. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers) /

Reading Harry Potter with my dad growing up introduced me to worlds beyond my imagination.

To celebrate Father’s Day and the end of Dad Week, the editorial staff is looking back at the sports and entertainment we will forever associate with our dads.

I’ll never forget my first midnight book release. My family and I were down the shore — that is, of course, Pennsylvania/New Jersey slang for visiting the local beaches in summertime — when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix released stateside. At the time, the boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey housed a pair of now defunct book stores, of which my family frequented often due to our love of reading while relaxing on the beach for our annual week-long vacation.

Midnight book releases, back in the day, were incredibly common for the Harry Potter franchise. Going to your local bookstore — big or small — dressing up in your Harry Potter gear and enjoying the various activities the bookstore provided in the run up to midnight, wherein you’d buy your copy and head home to start reading immediately, were a major part of the fandom.

The one in Ocean City that year was quite tame compared to the big blowouts I remember going to at Borders for the following books. However, I’ll always remember passing the book from my small, 10-year-old hands to my father’s upon getting into the car on our way back to the beach house, letting him crack open the spine and read to me and my family on the trip back.

I was four years old when the first Harry Potter book was published. While I was too young to read the books by myself, my dad eventually took up the mantle of reading them aloud to my sister and I before bed each evening. My dad, if you know him, is not a talkative man, unlike the rest of his family. While he’s not shy exactly, he speaks when he needs to and prefers to be a silent company to my family’s constant chatty nature.

Books, however, were always something my dad enjoyed. So, when given the chance to read a new, popular book series such as Harry Potter to his two daughters, he responded with fervor. While I don’t remember the minuscule details of my father’s reading time with my sister and I — though I definitely recall the names of characters such as Voldemort and Hermione sounding a lot different when given official pronunciations in canon — this time became a sacred one for our family.

Looking back, I don’t think I ever went back and re-read the early Harry Potter books on my own. By the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows rolled around, I was more than capable of reading large novels by myself and I proudly finished the final chapter in Harry’s story in less than 24 hours. However, the majority of my exposure to the world of Harry Potter — in book form — came from my father as we read through a handful of chapters each night.

Nowadays, it’s impossible to talk about Harry Potter without mentioning J. K. Rowling’s long history of transphobia, culminating in a recent essay posted on Twitter. Rowling is, of course, wrong. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. This isn’t up for debate.

Yet, Rowling has made her stance clear, and it’s caused many fans of the series to take a closer look at their relationship with a franchise that they hold dear. Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe put it best, in my opinion, in a recent post for The Trevor Projectspeaking on the legacy this story and these characters have left in fans minds:

"If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much."

Rowling’s comments don’t take away the moments I shared with my dad growing up, from listening to the voices he gave for each character to the anticipation we felt waiting for the next book to release. Those moments are mine and my dad’s, no one else’s, and nothing can taint that for us.

That being said, my Harry Potter fandom has waned over the years as I’ve grown older. While I enjoyed the books growing up, and the movies were a formative part of my teenage years, I grew out of the series over time after awhile. It was no one moment that made me grow apart from the series, I just… moved on.

More from Entertainment

And yet, my dad’s influence on me remained. Harry Potter was one of the first book series I came to enjoy, but it wasn’t the last. Thanks to my dad’s love of fantasy series, as a teenager I picked up The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, the first of dozens of novels in the Shannara series which my dad still reads to this day. In the same vein, I fell in love with the world of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, a series which carried me through high school and into college.

From there, I delved deeper into the diverse world of fantasy — and science fiction — on my own. I fell into the young adult fantasy worlds of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo and the Red Rising saga by Pierce Brown. I picked up famous fantasy series such as Game of ThronesThe Hunger Games and The Kingkiller Chronicle, and watched my dad do the same.

Thanks to my dad’s influence growing up, I eventually found my favorite book series of all time — the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab — which I ended up introducing to him once I was finished.

Unfortunately, I read less often nowadays than I’d like to, for one reason or another. Still, I cherish the memories I have reading Harry Potter with my dad to this day, and how it’s impacted my life in such grand ways.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thank you for showing me some truly incredible worlds hidden in the pages of books.

light. Related Story. My dad, Ferris Bueller and me

For more, explore our Dad Week hub on