Racing to the finish line.

Two years ago – was it really on two?! – I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and started reading to Gracie about the Boy Who Lived. The Ex and I decided Gracie could start reading the Harry Potter series when she turned eight. She had been asking for ever so long and we felt she was ready. She was…and she wasn’t. She gulped the story down, eyes wide, predicting plot points with terrifying accuracy. But the chapters…the chapters were a little long for her. She was stuck: she wanted to find out what happened, but her eyes got bored of reading 30 pages at a stretch.

And so one of my favorite traditions at Casa de Katie was born.

I would read a chapter each night to Gracie-girl each night after dessert and before bedtime. That first book we spent reading snuggled up in my bed while Bee-baby got some much coveted screen time. By the time Gracie and I had made our way through Book Two, Bee-girl had started listening in each night, and our nightly ritual was moved out to the living room. We also started another habit: after we read ahead enough, we would watch a peek of the movie to catch us up. I found it helped cement what was being read, and helped keep Bee invested in a story that was still a bit of a reach for her. It worked for us. And so I read on…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Gracie couldn’t believe that a bad guy would get away and the good guy forced to go on the run. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I saw the moment Gracie became a die-hard fan (and when she fell for Cedric Diggory and I giggled). The Order of the Phoenix, when both girls thought I was making up the character death at the end of the story. And then The HalfBlood Prince, when I was convinced that I was raising a psychopath. Bee was dismayed at Dumbledore’s death. I sobbed and bawled my way through the entire story. Gracie? She sighed at me, patted my shoulder, and asked if I wanted her to read. Because my emotions were getting in her way of finding out what was going on. Hmph.

Last week I picked up the last book. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Gracie and I got into a rather amusing argument over Hallows vs. Hollows, and then to cheer her up when she figured out she was wrong, I told her about the Saturday seven years ago when the book appeared on my doorstep and I spent the entire. day. reading. I started at almost 12 noon, and I finished at 9-something that night. Except for a fifteen-minute break for dinner (that I was forced to take), I didn’t stop once. I read the book from cover to cover, used quite a few tissues, and then burst into tears again because the series was over and what fixes that kind of emptiness? Nothing.

Except, apparently, sharing the series with your daughters.

I read more than sixty pages out loud last night, three chapters’ worth, and Gracie was beyond upset with me when I insisted she go to bed and refused to read a fourth. I understand her impatience: I couldn’t put the book down either, so long and not very long ago. It warms my heart when she begs for more. I also thought it was interesting the way the girls put their heads together, conferred for a bit, and decided to hold off on the movies until we finish the book. Nothing makes me happier than when the girls agree on something so easily, especially when it’s about reading.

I know there will be other books, other series to enjoy. We’ve always been a family who read out loud together, and I know that will continue. But my heart is still a little sad that the pages are rushing by and Harry’s adventures will soon come to an end. I hope they remember these few years when we immersed ourselves in Hogwarts and the Burrow and the hidden worlds of London. I hope they remember the magic. And I hope the magic holds true for them again when it’s their turn to read Harry’s story out loud to their children, their daughters. I’m sure it will. And if not…Grandma will always step in to lend her voice to the adventures.

Harry

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2 Responses to “Racing to the finish line.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    They will remember. I still remember sitting on the kitchen floor, eating lunch while my mom read Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Litte – I was in kindergarten. And I remember being stuggled on the couch with my mom and my brother while we read The Box Car Children. Your girls will remember.

  2. Jeyna Grace Says:

    Haha! I, too, felt nothing when Dumbledore died… mainly because I never quite liked him. Maybe Gracie does not really like him too.

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