Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest blogger: Martha Boice

We at Fine Print are very excited to occasionally share contributions by local authors. We have asked them to share their thoughts about their favorite book, something they've read recently, or the role reading has played in their lives. Today's offering is from Martha Boice, who has written Maps of the Shaker West: A Journey of Discovery and Dating an Historic Home in Montgomery County, Ohio.
I read the first Harry Potter book about a decade ago. I enjoyed the movie, too. But the series did not take on significance until last summer when our eleven-year old grandson, Sebastian, and I attended an intergenerational Road Scholar program in Orlando. We put on the “Sorting Hat” and were placed in Ravenclaw House. We worked hard all week to do well so that Ravenclaw would get more points and “win” for the week.

Two college professors came one day to share their wisdom about the Harry Potter books. One compared the system of being assigned to Houses in the Harry Potter books with Plato's Republic. He drew a triangle on the board and divided it into three parts horizontally. The smallest group at the top were the guardians or philosopher kings who lived in shared quarters and were characterized by wisdom. The middle group constituted the soldiers or police who showed courage. The lower and largest group were the workers in the Republic, defined by self-discipline. We discussed how it feels to be assigned to a group. Slavery and the Indian caste system were brought into the discussion. There was also wand making one morning and a lively Quiddich game that afternoon. Butterbeer recipes were created and sampled another afternoon. Most of the grandparents knew a little about Harry Potter, but the kids "knew it all."

We visited the Harry Potter area of the Universal Island of Adventure theme park. There was a scavenger hunt to find and photograph various pieces of Harry Potter lore. It was amazing to me that books created by an imaginative woman, J.K. Rowling, could transform the world for young people as well as adults—even the older variety. More amazing is that most of the young people from 8 to 12 had read the last book of more than 700 pages. Sebastian had gone to a book store opening at midnight to get his copy when the last volume arrived. Now the books are on my reading list, too.

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