Thanks to Harry Potter

It’s been a long time since I’ve read to my granddaughters. When they were very little, we spent a great deal of time with books, gazing at them, turning pages, exclaiming. And I read, but not for very long continuously.

As they got older and our together time involved picking them up from daycare, then school, afternoons and early evenings before bed were filled with playing games and cooking together—along with a bit of reading. And now with Covid, we no longer have the luxury of the three of us curling up and diving into a book. We are “together” on Zoom, when I offer my writing workshops to the girls, which inevitably involve some reading but not the deep dive kind. Or we’re outside taking walks or gardening.

But this weekend, the three of us ended up together with a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” on our deck under the redwoods, and the girls asked me to read to them while they braided friendship bracelets.

Within the first few pages, I realized they were both intimately familiar with the book. Poppy, who is seven, had listened on Audible; and Amelie had both listened and read the book herself. “But that doesn’t matter, Gram,” they both exclaimed. “We love the book. You’ll see; it’s great!”

So I started reading about the Dursley’s and their huge son, Dudley, and how they shunned the Potters, Mrs. Durlsely’s sister and her family, because they were weird and different. “But you’ll see, Gram, the book doesn’t really think that,” Amelie jumped in., giving me the perfect opportunity to explain the concept of narrator to the girls.

When we reached the part about the strange cat that sat waiting and watching for hours at a time, Poppy exclaimed, “You’re going to love this Gram. Wait ‘til you see what happens with the cat!” And indeed, I did love the cat and began to wonder why I had never let Harry Potter and his world into my life.

As I read, the girls sat braiding their three strands of thread each, looking up at me, then down at their progress on the bracelets. I had originally planned to ask each of them to read for a bit, but quickly became so absorbed in the book and the camaraderie of the three of us enjoying the plot, the humor, and each other, that I forgot all about being spelled. And the more I read, and the more Amelie and Poppy listened and commented, the more immediate Harry Potter’s world became for us. Within minutes, we were off on the same adventure, everything else falling away.

As the three of us sat under the redwoods, all our attention focused on the same story, with me reading the words offered on the page, nothing more was asked of us. With no pressure, no demands, no obligations, we could surrender, a grandma and her two adored granddaughters, to the story unfolding for us. The three of us as together and intimate as we’ve ever been, one Saturday afternoon, in the middle of the Covid pandemic.

Landscape Underfoot

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