Chatting with Chapman: 20 years of “Harry Potter”

I remember when my mom bought my first Harry Potter book.

The year was 2001. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was just about to come out in the United States, and my mom decided that my first “big kid” book should be one about a boy wizard. I vaguely remember struggling through the novel with my mom’s help and excitedly going to see the movie when it came out. I know that I’m not alone in saying that the franchise grew to define my childhood.


From that point on, my young life revolved around Harry Potter. I attended every book release party at Barnes and Noble, and I made my own robes by dyeing my dad’s oversized t-shirts. I day-dreamed about attending Hogwarts, and much like many others, I was heartbroken when my owl didn’t arrive on my 11th birthday.

The Harry Potter franchise was the worldwide phenomenon of my generation. My dad raised me on Star Wars, but Harry Potter was something all our own. Not only did kids love the story, but it helped to raise literacy around the globe. And, the best part was that we got to grow up with the characters.

I think every awkward kid trying to find their place in the world saw a little bit of themselves in Harry. Every girl who had every been shamed for being “too much” or “too weird” saw a strong young woman in Hermione. The magic of J.K. Rowling’s world was that she created a diverse cast of characters that everyone could relate to, and it helped plenty of children and adults alike find a bit of a home in the pages of the books.

I remember the midnight premiere of the final film and the excitement in the air as a crowd of kids who had grown up with the series bonded over tears, both happy and sad, as the story of the boy who lived came to an end.

And, since then the magic hasn’t faded one bit. I have friends who throw Harry Potter Halloween Parties, and we bond over our houses (I am a proud Ravenclaw, in case you are wondering). New stories are still coming out, and Harry Potter World at Universal is one of my favorite theme parks to ever be created.

I know that I’m a huge nerd about a lot of things, but I think that Harry Potter is one of the few things that I can find solidarity in my nerdiness. Twenty years later, and it’s still the franchise that defined a generation. I mean sure, I binge the series every winter, I desperately want my own wand, I can ace trivia and I basically had an excited breakdown when I visited Harry Potter Studios last summer, but that’s totally normal.


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Collegian reporter Chapman Croskell can be reached at or on Twitter @Nescwick.