Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
One of the greatest moments in my life was when I handed this little girl the first Harry Potter book. You see, I was working in the library and we were being slammed by the summer reading program. It was an epically bad day because it was a Saturday and we were always short staffed on Saturdays. On top of this, we were busier than usual, common in summer, and their was a library program for kids that same day, so all those folks were in the library.
This little girl came up to me at the youth desk with her mom. Apparently, this girl had just turned eight years old and her mom had said she could start reading the first installment to the wonderful Harry Potter series when she was eight. So her mother, having not stepped in a library for “twenty years” brought her daughter to the library to make good on her promise.
As it turns out, apparently this girl wasn’t the only one wanting to read the first book of the series. They were all checked out. I told her that we could probably get her one in a few days, but there were none in the library. The girl made a face that broke my heart, and reminded me why I wanted to be a father. Simply, I felt terrible, that this girl had waited her entire life to read this book and yet we couldn’t get her one.
Disappointed, she walked away from the desk and I went on break to go smoke a cigarette and wallow in my sorrow of not be able to change the little girls life.
Upon walking in from my break, I saw the first Harry Potter book that had just been returned. Immediately, I grabbed it and searched everywhere in the library to find the little girl that wanted it so badly. I finally found the girl, right next to the front door, and stopped them before they could leave. And I gave that girl that book.
The smile she returned was one of the best moments in my life. I knew right then and there, that girl’s life was changed, and she would forever be a lover of books and hopefully libraries.
Imagine what would have happened if that little girl came into the library in search of a banned book, and I had to tell her that there’s no way she was getting it? For me, the girl that wanted that book had a responsible mom who wanted her daughter to wait before read it. And she did.
One of the problems facing our country is this believe that you can police what everyone should read. You can’t. This girl’s parents were responsible, like all parents should be in regards to what any child should be exposed to. To celebrate Banned Books Week, today, I think of the eight year old girl who came back in a week later, ready for the second one, in a series that has been called controversial, been pulled off library shelves and in fact, even burned. This series changed her (and my) life.