Written by Jonathan D. Martin
A note from Jamie: Today I have parental bragging honors! I hope by sharing my son Jonathan’s (age 14) post you will be encouraged. It shows what can happen when you fill your kids early years with good books–it eventually translates into a young adult with ideas to share! This is one of his first writing efforts (with Mom as coach), & it won a competition for TJEd High last semester–#proudmama–enjoy:
I carefully walk down the dark stairs, flick the switch, and light floods the kitchen. I cut a thick slice of Daddy’s homemade bread, head towards the refrigerator, and take out the butter. When the bell on the toaster rings, I slather the bread with a thick layer, make my way to the living room, and reach for the paperback on the shelf.
I love waking up, knowing that my favorite book series–and a piece of toast–are just seconds away!
From fire-breathing dragons to evil dark lords, I have a front-row seat to one of the best adventures I’ve ever experienced, alongside an 11-year-old boy named Harry Potter.
This unexpected classic has taught me key life lessons that I will take with me forever. I’d like to share three of them with you:
1. The Importance of Being a Loyal Friend
Through Harry Potter, I’ve learned that friends stick together even in the darkest times. I have seen characters refuse to give up on each other and continue to trust one another, even when it comes at personal cost.
For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry and his friends help an endangered baby dragon escape from their school. In the process, they lose 150 points for their school House, Gryffindor.
Everyone turns on Harry except for his friend, Ron:
“Only Ron stood by him. ‘They’ll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points in all the time they’ve been here, and people still like them.’”
Like a true friend, Ron encourages Harry that things will get better. This inspires me. Even when others turn against my friend, I still want to be there to support him.
2. The Importance of Fighting for What You Believe In
Whether it’s Harry on the front lines of battle, Professor Dumbledore’s calm presence as he mentors students, or Hagrid the Gamekeeper who, after being falsely accused of a crime, continues to fight for freedom, many characters set an example that I want to follow.
Dumbledore sums it up in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when he says,
“We are all facing dark and difficult times…you [will] have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy…”
Fighting for what you believe in doesn’t always mean a physical battle, though. Through my study of the Bible, I’ve noticed that Jesus often chose to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t easy. He fought for what he believed, but not with a sword.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked God if there was another way to save humanity, possibly one that didn’t involve such suffering. But he went on to tell God, “Thy will be done.” He didn’t have to die on the cross; he did it out of his great love for us.
3. The Importance of Not Giving Up
There’s always a chance for good to win, unless we give up hope. In the latter part of the Harry Potter series, certain characters think that evil has already won and wonder if they should just accept it and move on. Fortunately, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, even while occasionally struggling with doubts and fears, persevere in their efforts to destroy the Dark Lord Voldemort and end his regime.
No matter where we find ourselves in life, we have opportunities to practice endurance and not giving up.
Once when I attended a nature class, the mentors chose a difficult project for us to work on. They asked us to construct our own pack frame, a Viking tool similar to a backpack. The process took nearly an entire semester, and involved heating sticks over a fire without burning them, then bending them around a tree while still warm.
After that, parts needed to be carved, shaped and attached to the frame in a specific way. It was hard, but I kept going. Now I look back with pride, knowing that I didn’t quit.
Some people have concerns about Harry Potter because of the magic and wizardry in the novels. John Granger, a homeschooling father and teacher of the classics, felt that way too.
He began to read the first book so he could explain to his daughter why she wasn’t allowed to do so: “I wanted to be able to point to specific passages so she could see for herself why we don’t read such trash; no matter how popular it might be.”
But the quality of the writing, the symbolic imagery, and the spiritual truths he discovered completely changed his mind. He shared his experience in his book Looking For God In Harry Potter:
“The Harry Potter novels, the best-selling books in [modern] publishing history, touch our hearts because they contain themes, imagery, and engaging stories that echo the Great Story we are wired to receive and respond to.”
If you’re skeptical about Harry Potter as well, I encourage you to give the series a try and see what lessons you encounter. Maybe you’ll find, like me, that they become life-changing books similar to The Hunger Games, Narnia and The Giver.
It’s been said that the best books instruct while also delighting, and this unexpected classic does both.
Suddenly I realize that my piece of toast is long gone, and it’s time to get back to reality. I reluctantly dogear the page and start getting ready for my day. I’ll return to my reading as soon as a I can. And no matter what challenges come, I know I’ll face them with courage, these life lessons by my side.
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That was well-written! And I enjoyed reading it!
Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (1/28/19)
Thank you Anne!
Obviously, I now want buttery toast for breakfast! Thank you for the insightful and well-written look at one of our favorite series. This is a great article for new Potter fans and also a nice reading guide for parents. Bravo! I’m also going to show it to my 15-year old as a solid example of how to write a concise blog article. Writing for the web is a different animal and this serves well for that, too! What are you going to do in your free time with a new writer in the house, Jamie!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Laura!
Fantastic! Thank you for you sharing.
Thank you for reading it, Jen!
Fantastic article! Thanks for sharing.
Kris’s latest post: 4 Surprising Ways Playing an Instrument Makes Kids Smarter
Thank you Kris!
Wonderful thoughts. Thank you for this post!
Thank you Amanda!
Caroline Starr Rose
Jonathan! I’m so glad I got to read this. Well done!
Thanks Caroline! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Anna of Stuffedveggies
Great post! So encouraging to see Christian teens writing with such skill!
Thank you Anna!
Yes!! One of my absolute favorite book series!
Purva Brown’s latest post: The Biggest Reason to Homeschool No One Talks About
Mine too, Purva!
Love this, Jonathan and Jamie! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. We feel the same way about the Harry Potter series! 🙂
Thank you for reading it, Charissa! So much to be learned from Harry!
Trishna Martin 🎹🎤
Wow! Hey brother Jonathan! Love what you’ve wrote. That is so cool that you wrote something on Mom’s website! 😀
That post you put on is my TOP favorite thing you wrote! ❤️❤️❤️
You did a good job. I know I don’t like Harry Potter, but when you mention the life lessons from this book series, that made me feel better knowing that we can learn many valuable lessons from amazing Harry Potter. 😎
What a great opportunity that God has given you to share something that you love to read and learn from. Well done, bro! 👏🎶
Thank you Trishna for the kind words!
I love this and completely agree. It’s a wonderful series and I appreciate your taking the time to share about your experience with it. Great job!
Shawna Wingert’s latest post: What I Hope My Children Say About Me Someday
Thank you, Shawna! It was very fun to write it and I learned a lot!
I appreciate the part about those hesitant to read Harry Potter. I fall in that category, and now I’m considering giving the books a try – because of your words. Thanks 👍🏻
I’m glad you are considering giving them a try, Rae! So many lessons to be learned from them (many more then the 3 I wrote about here).
Well done Jonathan! We live in a house divided. Momma and Little Brother love Harry Potter and Daddy and Big Sis do not. Like the Dad you quoted, Daddy wonders about the magic and wizardry. Big Sister just doesn’t like snakes, bullying and dark evil. Little Brother has struggled with reading and Harry Potter excites him like no other books. We have used them as read alouds and now he is starting to read them slowly by himself. I am going to share your article with Big Daddy as you explained yourself well, heart, mind and soul (not to mention including the gospel message!) Looking forward to seeing more of your writing on the blog!
Thank you so much Tracy!
Very impressive. Skilled writing and analysis skills.
Thank you, Arlene!
Jonathan! This is so wonderful. I can see your kitchen! And I definitely want a piece of that toast you describe.
I agree that this book series can teach us a lot, and I think you zeroed in on some of the biggest lessons. I also think it’s very Harry-like (courageous) to take on a topic that divides many people, but you did it well. Way to go!
Thanks Kara for the kind words! The toast is very good 🙂
Melissa Camara Wilkins
Jonathan, I agree–there’s so much depth to Harry Potter. I feel like I discover new layers and truths woven into the fabric of the story every time I reread the series. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us!
Melissa Camara Wilkins’s latest post: What’s Saving My Life: Cold Weather Edition
Same here, Melissa!
I am the mother of 4 little boys, the oldest of which has just started Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (he’s 9), and I am crying right now. This is a hopeful vision of the future, where my boys can find gospel themes in good books and share them with others. Thank you.
Thank you Meredith! I bet that they’ll be able to grasp many more lessons from it as well!
My 14-year old daughter is going to love your article! She is also a loyal Harry Potter fan and faithfully re-reads the series every year. You’ve written this using such great imagery and have definitely provided some compelling reasons for skeptics to give Harry a try! Thanks for sharing this with us, Jonathon!
Sarah Takehara’s latest post: 10 Great Books to Read-Aloud with Children!
I try to reread them every year too, Sarah! I’m glad you liked it!
Very well written and convincing! I started reading the Harry Potter series years ago, and while I enjoyed the first books, I found the later books in the series too dark. As a highly sensitive person like your mom as written about before, I felt the darkness was too much for me. But it’s been quite a few years since I first read them, and your article has convinced me to give them a try again and to search for the lessons in them! Way to go!
Thank you Rebecca! I agree that in the later books the story becomes a bit darker, but personally I feel that’s when the most lessons come to light.
Jonathan, this is fabulous. What a well-written piece about a treasure of a series! You also show courage by writing about this, as it can be a divisive topic sometimes.
I read this to my kiddos before dinner tonight and my Potterheads LOVED it- and they are a bit star-struck because they remember having dinner with you!
Thanks Cait! Tell your kids I hope to see them again soon and that I’m glad they liked the essay!
Jonathan, I’m so glad to read your perspective on Harry Potter. I am excited to share this series with my kids when they are ready (it will be a new read for me, too!). I know I will remember your inspiring words about these essential life lessons as I read.
Thank you Kelly! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
What a thoughtful perspective on the many lessons in Harry Potter and such a well written blog piece! Thank you for bravely sharing.
Nicola’s latest post: February 2019