Letter from a Reader: ‘How Harry Potter Changed My Life’

The letter below is a ‘thank you’ to me, oddly enough, when it is readers like this that I am most thankful for. The hero of the story, though, isn’t Gilderoy Granger but the High School teacher that recognized the brilliant light shining beneath the surface of this struggling student. There should be an Albus Dumbledore Award for mentors with this kind of penetrating vision and a heart of solid light to act on what s/he saw. I look forward, of course, to meeting this reader at Ascendio 2012 and serious readers with a similar experience, that is, all of us whose lives have been enriched and forever changed, made more real by their contact with ‘The Boy Who Lived.’

Mr. Granger,

When I told my story last year at LeakyCon it was suggested by numerous people that I share it with you.  During the chaos I never did catch up with you, meet you, or get to share my Potter story.  When Ascendio 2012 promoted your blog post today, well, I remembered this and thought it would be an excellent time to share.

I grew up loathing reading and writing.  I am dyslexic.  I struggled so much, especially with writing and school.

In my high school senior year (2001), though, I had the most amazing English teacher.  He realized I wasn’t causing problems, that I was smart, and I could do this.  He gifted me the first Harry Potter book.  For the first time in my life I stayed up the entire night reading.  I finished the book.  I continued to devour the series.  I wrote essays.  I linked things we talked about in all of my classes to things in the Harry Potter books.  I went on to college, I majored in English.  I did my undergrad thesis on Harry Potter.

I went on to Grad school.  I studied for my MA in Education and English.  I wrote everything about Harry Potter.  I went from not reading or writing to loving both.  I was able to understand things and make links I had never before been able to do.  I have now been a conference presenter, published writer (newspapers) and will continue on to present again I hope.  I have even started contemplating submitting articles to scholarly journals.

Without Harry none of this would have been possible.  I was able to take something I loved, and overcome my struggles in multiple subjects and become successful.

I cannot wait to hear you speak at Ascendio 2012.  I would also like to thank you for bringing Harry Potter and the magic to Academia; without people like you paving the way my professors would have never taken me seriously.

Thank you.

[Name withheld by request]


  1. Wow. This is the best kind of testimonial and illustrates the power of inspiration, in this case for an absolute, continuing good. How wonderful!

  2. This is such a great letter. It must make you feel very proud as well, John. As he said, if people like you hadn’t started talking about the depth of Harry Potter, then he likely wouldn’t have been taken seriously. And congratulations to this person for all his successes – and to the high school teacher who paid attention to this student and found just the right way to encourage reading.

    I hope that this story finds its way, somehow, to Jo Rowling. There is truly something magical in the Harry Potter books.

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