On 4 Privet Drive, Surrey, a baby was delivered to the most unmagical family that ever lived. He was famous in the wizarding world for being the only “boy who lived” after facing the most wicked wizard of all time. Harry Potter is raised by an unkind aunt and uncle who make him sleep in the cupboard under the stairs, wearing their spoiled son’s old clothes. But on Harry’s eleventh birthday, his first-ever letter arrives inviting him to Hogwarts, the most most famous school of wizardry, signed by the headmaster himself. Harry’s oddball friends, eccentric professors, and conniving enemies educate him about magic, friendship, and a world beyond our dreams.
Similar Recommended Readings:
The next book in the Harry Potter series is The Chamber of Secrets, which teaches about prejudice, even in the magic world, through mudbloods and a new friend, an elf named Dobby, who warns Harry about the danger of returning to Hogwarts this year.
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis is also a magical world of strange creatures and supernaturally powerful villains. The two best books to begin with are The Magician’s Nephew, in which a boy discovers his uncle’s magic rings which can transport you to other worlds, or to the wood between worlds. The other one you can also start with is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which 4 children walk through the back of a magic wardrobe into the land of Narnia, where animals talk and think, and it is always winter and never Christmas, because of an evil Queen.
The Hobbit is about a magical creature named Bilbo who had a very comfortable life with no adventures, until a wizard invited 13 dwarves over to search for their leader’s lost treasure, held captive by a dragon in lands they’d only heard legends of. Bilbo is very inexperienced and unsure of his abilities, much like Harry, but discovers courage and friendship in very unlikely places.
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip is about a baby named Nepenthe who is delivered to the librarians on a seaside castle, where she learns to translate between the magic languages in her land. She becomes friends with a boy in the nearby floating magician’s school, who brings her a very old manuscript written in the language of thorns, and tells the legend of the greatest king of their world and his mage, and how they conquered the world.
Matilda is a book written by the same author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl. It’s about a brilliant little girl whose family treats her terribly, but she discovers the world of books and its escapes and lessons, even of revenge on enemies.
Pumpkin Pasties are something Harry tries for the first time on the train to Hogwarts (it’s actually the first item he bites into), and shares with poor Ron, who only had a mushy sandwich from his pocket. They eat them again during one of the Hogwarts dinner feasts, and on Halloween morning, the students wake “to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors.”
Pumpkin Pasty Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting
- salted butter, softened to room temperature
- brown sugar, packed down
- canned 100% pure pumpkin puree
- vanilla extract
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- baking powder
- pumpkin pie spice
- powdered sugar
Pumpkin Pie Spice:
Exact amounts of ingredients as well as instructions can be found on hubpages.com.
- How is it possible that even at the age of eleven Harry Potter had never been anywhere but “school, his cupboard, or Miss Figg’s cabbage-smelling living room”? How did that affect his emotions about going to the zoo on Dudley’s birthday? What might that limited social interaction and experience do to a person long-term? What might Harry have been like if he’d never been invited to Hogwarts?
- Why did Harry’s magic manifest when he was scared or angry? If there were other occurrences, how had he never noticed the coincidence before?
More discussion questions can be found at