Shared Text: Rep. Giffords Reading Harry Potter

Like all of you, I was horrified by the shootings in Arizona two weeks ago and have followed the story of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery, from the reports of her having died by an assassin’s bullet in her brain to her plans for a move to rehab as early as tomorrow. As we live in a Harry Potter universe, of course, I should not have been surprised that this story, which, for better or worse, overshadows even the murders of tens of thousands of people not far from Arizona, has a Hogwarts element to it. Prof. Freeman alerted me this morning to an article in Entertainment Weekly about the first book Rep. Giffords is reading since being shot: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

What else? Be sure to read the article to the last line. If the Hogwarts Saga were not this generation’s ‘Shared Text,’ could the reporter have used that as her exit line with surety that all her readers would ‘get it’? Of course not.


  1. Plus, check the comments and all the readers did get it! Remarkable.

  2. Louise Freeman says

    If I had to guess, she’s already familiar with and a fan of the book. In the case of a left hemisphere brain injury, the ability to use and comprehend language (spoken and written) is always a concern. For all the reports of her better-than-expected recovery in terms of alertness, mobility, etc., I haven’t heard of her speaking, which is bound to have people worried.

    They probably picked a favorite book of hers, available in large print, to help assess her reading comprehension. If the areas of her brain associated with reading are injured, starting with something familiar would be the first step in rehab. Harry’s a great choice, of course!

  3. Eric, you noticed the same thing I did. Not one of the commenters asked what the reference was – they all got it.

    Her recovery is the most remarkable thing we’ve seen. I would also guess it’s something she is familiar with – aren’t her children still young? – and in earlier reports she seemed to respond better to people she knew. It would make sense that they would give her a book that is familiar, and I love it that they gave her Harry Potter.

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