Harry Potter and the surprise you're never too old for storytime

Published on: 13 September 2016 Author: Julia Golding

Author and mum Julia Golding thought her children were too grown-up to read with her - but then they brought the Harry Potter play along on holiday...

Julia Golding

When my children were at primary school, the days had a definite routine. The last few hours were the busiest: collect from school, various activities and/or screen time, maybe some homework, dinner, bath, and then - like sighting the finishing line in a 10K run - reading together.

It felt magical to lie down on the bed beside them and share a book. That was possibly the first moment we had relaxed together since springing up that morning.

Books from childhood

When they were very little, it was picture books, sometimes the same one over and over like a charm. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy will live with me forever.

When they were older, my husband and I could branch out in other fantastical directions. Peter PanMr GumNarniaHarry PotterThe Hobbit and their graduation piece, the entirety of The Lord of the Rings (each got this once - it takes about half a year to read, roughly the length the story takes in Tolkien's world).

Interspersed with those books would be whatever I was writing at the time. They would get straight from my computer a Cat Royal story, a spy thriller or a Companion's Quartet, and more recently a Victorian superhero tale about Mel Foster and his extraordinary bunch of friends.

Julia Golding
We take reading deadly seriously: waiting for Deathly Hallows in 2007

Harry on holiday

It's now 2016. I thought those reading days were behind us. Our daughter is entering her final year at university. Our oldest son has just started work in his gap year. Only the youngest remains at home as a possible audience but at 14 his reading has to fight off challenges from FIFA or YouTube videos.

So you can imagine my surprise when the eldest (20) was very keen when I suggested we buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to take on holiday with us.

'You and Dad can read it aloud to us. It'll be great.'

It was partly reminiscence at work here - she is in the generation who lined up for midnight openings and we all enjoyed reading the seven books together. Yet, in the case of the play, it was also the only fair way for all of us to hear the next instalment at the same pace. We had to swear NOT TO READ AHEAD.

Finding our inner thesp

Most evenings on holiday we would wrap up with a scene (or 13) of the play. My husband is the most outrageously Scottish Professor McGonagall. We all loved Scorpius - what a great addition to the HP world!

We agreed that most of the problems could have been sorted out with decent family counselling. I won't spoil the plot twists but we found it a fun reading experience for people aged 14 to over 50.

So, are you looking for new ideas? Why not give a play a try with your family? Your younger readers could take part, too - a great way of encouraging them to gain confidence in reading aloud.

After all, it's reading that casts the real magic spell over us.

© Photos and text by Egmont author Julia Golding

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