So, I haven’t re-read Harry Potter yet this year. I was really hoping that Pottermore would be selling the ebooks by now (it’s only been 6 months :/). Oh well. As soon as they DO release the ebooks, I will read and review them. Until then, here is the discussion post for the first two books by J. K. Rowling based on my memory.
Book 1 & 2 Discussion questions:
- What was your first very first impression of Harry Potter himself? Did your impression change at the end of the first book? I remember feeling so bad for Harry. When his cousin gets tons of presents and his birthday isn’t even remembered. When he’s excited that he actually gets to go to the zoo. I admired him because even though he was obviously neglected and abused, he still had a kind heart. It made me wonder if I would be capable of the same thing.
- At what point in either book did you decide that you did, or didn’t, like the story? When Harry goes to the Leaky Cauldron and realizes that he’s famous was when I completely and irrevocably fell in love with the story. The best books ask the most interesting questions and Harry Potter #1 seemed to ask, “What if you were famous and didn’t know it?” That would never happen in real life and I loved seeing Harry’s reaction to his fame.
- Is there anything you dislike so far? Something you would change if you could? I don’t know if I would change it, but I was surprised at how scary book 2 was. I’m a full grown adult and I couldn’t go to bed until I had finished The Chamber of Secrets because it honestly freaked me out! There’s quite a bit of swearing in the books as well. I would let my kids read them when they were a lot younger if there wasn’t swearing.
- What is it about J.K. Rowling’s writing that makes her books so appealing to so many people? Is it the characters? The plot? Something else? What do you love most about her writing? I think all kids can relate to the struggle Harry and Ron have with school. School is hard even if you are learning about magic. I read somewhere that it’s quote ironic and funny that magic is turned into these dull and tedious subjects. The thing I love about her writing is how good she is at foreshadowing. Every book of hers took me by surprise and yet I should have seen it coming! I don’t know how she does it. Although the movies make it seem like the world she created is dark, I found her writing to be full of funny words and lots of humor. I found so many elements in her books just plain charming.
- In the first book, we are introduced to a very different world than the one we live in. What were some things that blew your mind when you first read about them? The thing that really blew my mind about book 1 was that you completely thought that Snape was the bad guy just because Harry didn’t like him. When I went back and read book 1 again, you can see that there isn’t much going against Snape besides Harry not liking him. What an amazing lesson about what evil really is. How much do we judge people who are different than us and people we just plain don’t like? I’ve never read a book where the antagonist was someone other than the person the protagonist disliked. Harry is so fixated on his dislike of Snape that he forgets the real evil that is lurking in the world. Harry and Snape’s relationship still blows my mind.
- Despite being so different, what do you think makes the wizard world so believable? What makes it a place that people want to escape to? I think the thing that was most believable about her magical world is that things are not always easier with magic. They can do things so easily that we work hard for (like cleaning and making food), but they also have more problems then we do (magical pests that bite, evil lords trying to destroy the world etc.).
- In The Sorcerer’s Stone, Professor Quirrel tells Harry, “There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” What does this statement tell us about Professor Quirrel? Do you agree or disagree with him? This statement totally reminds me of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. I think this is the kind of thing you would say to yourself to justify even the most evil acts. But going down that path takes away the ability to love, which is what I think makes us human.
- In The Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore tells Harry, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” The sorting hat also suggested Harry could fine great fame and glory in Slytherin House. What choices does Harry make that lead him away from darkness? Could he have been the good wizard that he was if some of those choices were different? J.K. Rowling intentionally made Voldemort’s and Harry’s upbringings very similar. Both of them were abused and neglected. But Voldemort chose revenge and power instead of forgiveness. Harry choses to value love and friendship I think in part because it was so rare to him. Harry tries to make the best of what life has given him and move on about the things he can’t change. Voldemort thinks that power is more important than love and he’s quite shocked to find out just how powerful love is.
- If you’re re-reading the series, what are some differences you’ve noticed this time? Are there things you didn’t pick up on before? Or did you find you liked/disliked something differently this time? It’s fun picking up on her very subtle foreshadowing and seeing the small details that you skip over in your mind that end up becoming very important.
- Just for fun: If you could make your own polyjuice potion, who would you disguise yourself as, and why? I would totally want to be Oprah. I wonder what a day in her life is like. Is it really busy? What luxuries does she have that we don’t? Could she just call up any person in the whole world and they’d talk to her?