Monday, May 23, 2016

Enter Harry Potter


I met Harry Potter in my impressionable early teen years and, like many of you, grew up with him. I read the last book in the series right after the birth of my first child, a son. I remember this clearly for one reason. I had my son in a bassinet right next to me. He was doing nothing but sleeping or breast feeding, but I still felt guilty for not giving that poor sleepy baby my undivided attention. Sorry, baby H. Mommy has got a previous engagement with a wizard named Harry. You will have to eat without me staring at you the whole time. 

I don't do books, any books, in small chunks. I'm a read it to the end sort of person.

But somehow, my son survived me reading Harry Potter in the first few weeks of his innocent life.

And I had never been more satisfied, more thrilled, with the ending of any book or series. It was brilliant.

From that moment on, I became somewhat of a crazy person, trying to create the perfect set of circumstances and timing for my son's eventual introduction to Harry Potter.

When he was three and four, his daddy was telling him the condensed, mostly child-appropriate versions of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

Sorry Luke my kid already knew Darth Vader was your father BEFORE he saw the movie.

I looked at Harry Potter, set it aside and pulled out The Mouse and The Motorcycle, Ramona, and Charlotte's Web.

He loved them. But he played Star Wars and talked about hobbits.

My mom got a Harry Potter Lego game on her phone. I told her and him it was too hard for him to play and did that until he didn't beg to play it whenever we were with her.

But he's played Lego Star Wars a million times.

I didn't let him watch the movies. I kept the exploding cultural movement, including amusement parks and fan art, away from him.

But he had Star Wars action figures.

He did watch Harry Potter Puppet Pals. (I'm Harry Potter, Harry, Harry Potter.) I relented. But, hey, no spoilers! And I think he was under three at the time.

Then something happened. It's called Third Grade. And my little boy started swallowing books whole. We read all five Fable Haven books together, but meanwhile he read the Percy Jackson series by himself. And the Hobbit. We read at least four Redwall books, and still ended up scouring the book shelves. He brought home dragon books, monster books, wizard books, and books about mythical creatures.

In December, I knew it was time.

I'd planned this with precision, but I still hesitated. I wanted the perfect time, and I knew the last books would have more moments of the dark, sad, and deep. I wanted to make sure he was ready to face that. I put it off until spring. But I knew if I didn't open that door with him soon, he'd open it on his own. I was literally telling him to wait.

Wait and read it with me.

Because I'm crazy like that. I wanted to be there when he first heard the story, when he first discovered Harry was a wizard, that owls can bring letters, that wands pick the wizard and flying on brooms can be a sport. I wanted to gift wrap all that wonder, give it to him as undiluted and unsoiled as it came to me, and I wanted to be there for the opening.

And so it began. After years of training him not to ask for more chapters when our bedtime reading was done, I read late, pass bedtimes, and often in the middle of the day to him. The kid is smarter than me. He picks out parts of the book and predicts endings I never saw coming. But I guess he's had training in the form of Tolkien and Brandon Mull, among others.

We finished the first book in record time. And I wanted to savor things. I'd waited years for this. We could read a different book between one and two, couldn't we?

Sure.

Unless he finds book two in the school library and sneaks it out and starts reading it on his own.

Yes. He did that.

And yes, I made him stop and reread the part he already read with me. Remember that I'm crazy?

We are now almost through book two of Harry Potter and our wizard friend has come to stay. BOOM. Like that.

Yesterday, he repeated wingardium leviosa so many times it got stuck in my head. Then he started singing it. I had to tell him to stop. He found another spell to sing about.

Enter Harry Potter.
.
No closing that door again. And my two year old daughter will never get the pure, unspoiled version.

Because he's already taught her to ride brooms in the backyard.

They say you're less crazy with the second child.

Maybe that's because we don't get a choice.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WIP: Values-Centered Activities for Young Women

I've been working on a new non-fiction book the last six months, Values-Based Activities for Young Women. Ask for it in LDS bookstores at the end of May/beginning of June.


This helpful book features forty-eight activities centered on the eight values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. Along with the main activities, the book provides alternate ideas, additional resources, charts, cutouts, recipes, and a short play for a group to perform. From easy, last-minute planning, to coordinating bigger projects, each value section contains ideas to fit a variety of needs. Leaders can use this book to connect the values to activity nights in purposeful, fun, and engaging ways.


As part of this project, I've set up a Pinterest page with links to tutorials that might be helpful for some of the activity ideas. I'll be adding to it as I find things that would be helpful. Follow it at www.pinterest.com/jolyndbrown/yw-value-based-activity-tutorials/