The 'Harry Potter' Effect: A Lifetime of Inspiration from the Unforgettable Wizarding World

The magic spell which charmed my muggle life.

Me reciting a random chapter from each of the seven Harry Potter books

As a child I had a lot of difficulty with socialising (one of my diagnoses is autism) and would dread recess breaks at school. I had trouble fitting in with my peers and my favourite books to read were atlases. Yet in Fourth Grade (aged 9) I had a very kind teacher who was saddened to see a child sitting alone and depressed.

Mum was doing voluntary work at the school, and my teacher met up with her (without me present) and talked about a new book series that she had recently come across. She explained to mum that it was about a young boy named Harry Potter who felt alone and down, until he’d discovered he was a wizard and found a world that he belonged in.

The next day my teacher told me about the Harry Potter series and she felt that I would really like it. She said that during recess breaks I could borrow her copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to read, promising that it would make me enjoy recess. Afterward (in the next school semester) she told me she would read it to the class.

At that time, I must admit, I felt rather skeptical. I hadn’t heard of Harry Potter before. All I gathered was that it was a fiction book, and that was a genre that had never interested me. I much preferred atlases and math books. Yet out of politeness, I read the book later that morning and felt it would be better than sitting around doing nothing.

Amazingly when I had read the first few chapters, I connected with the book immediately. In a mere two weeks I bought my own copy, and have read and reread the books continually for the past 18 years.

The reason why the Harry Potter series connects with me so much is that despite the fact that the wizarding world is unlike our own world in many ways, Harry’s own life is so relatable to a real life person. To begin with, Harry knew nothing at all about the wizarding world, and all of the questions he asks throughout Philosopher’s Stone are the exact same questions that us as the reader would ask.

All seven books in the series are written almost entirely from Harry’s own perspective. Every experience Harry lives through, along with all of his emotions and thought processes are written down in the novels. This taught me a great deal about forming friendships, coping with school, and recognising and handling my emotions.

The books gave me such a sense of inner escape that I learned to recite them so that I could read myself (quietly) to sleep at any time of night. I also found myself hoping that by some miracle I would get a Hogwarts letter on my eleventh birthday. Though typically (and also fully expectedly) no such letter arrived. So for my twelfth birthday I asked Mum for a Harry Potter bedroom, which she painted up to look like a castle with stone walls.

In 2012, Pottermore arrived and I’d finally been sorted into a Hogwarts house (Ravenclaw), and a wand chose me (black walnut and unicorn hair). Later on, I found out my Ilvermorny house was Thunderbird and my patronus was a basset hound.

Unfortunately I live in Australia so there are no Harry Potter parks close by. But as I visit California every now and again, I couldn’t be happier that a new park has opened there. I’ve also been to the Harry Potter park in Orlando (on Halloween of 2011).

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Rebecca Sharrock
Rebecca Sharrock
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Rebecca Sharrock

I'm an autistic person who is making a career from writing, public speaking and advocacy work.

See all posts by Rebecca Sharrock