10 Harry Potter Life Lessons
I’ve never considered Harry Potter to be a series of deeply philosophical books. To me they were children’s adventure stories in the boarding school tradition, and thus it was only to be expected that good thrashed evil. But recently our readers reminded me of their universal wisdom and relevance to today’s world. Here I examine 10 things Harry Potter life lessons gleaned from quotes from the books that can teach kids about life, philosophy and the world, as suggested by our readers…
Potter philosophy – the best Harry Potter life lessons
In September 1988, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in the USA as Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. The change apparently came about when publishers worried American children wouldn’t want to read a book with philosopher in the title. There was even speculation that readers wouldn’t even understand what a philosopher was.
But many more embraced the philosophy in the books; there are tons of online posts and even whole books written about the deeper meanings behind the words. Many argue that Harry Potter scripture could help us live better – and what’s not to love about your kid reading a book where the world’s evil is defeated without it being a frightening or difficult read?
Recently we visited Edinburgh to tour the sites that inspired J.K. Rowling. On our Potter Trail tour the guide quoted some of her favourite parts and I was struck by how lovely they were. So when we wrote about it here on the blog we asked readers to leave a comment about their favourite Harry Potter quote. As entries came in I was unexpectedly moved by people’s thoughts and the quotes they chose. Some I remembered from the books and others I didn’t. Perhaps they weren’t so relevant then?
For this post I’ve pulled together some of the things our readers love about Harry Potter and the lessons they’ve learnt or taught their children through them. Real life wisdom from J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter magic.
1 Shared adversity can make strong bonds
“From that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
It’s Halloween at Hogwarts and a troll is in the building. Prior to this scene Ron and Hermione have been niggling at each other, and Ron proclaims her a nightmare. But then things change quickly. The above quote, from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was one of the first comments we received on our blog post by Kate Davis. “I love this quote as it’s very often during the most difficult times that we find our true friends,” says Kate.
2 Live in the moment, not a moment yet to come
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
“Another great gem from Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) which it made it all the more poignant when he died. How would Harry manage without this wise oracle to guide him?” asks Emma Hunt, who goes on to say, “I like it because it’s so true. We can often get wrapped up in fantasy and forget to live. It could be a game, social media, or anything really. And being as you expect children to be reading this first book, it’s a gem which can be applied in modern day as much as any other time.”
Stuart Hargreaves also quotes the passage, adding: “These words are true, think about it, enjoy life.” And Lis C says “This is my favourite quote because it reminds me of something my dad used to tell us growing up.”
3 There’s light in the dark if we let it in
“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”
A few people added this quote from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which gives us all hope that no matter how difficult, dark and dangerous things get, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Or even in the tunnel itself. The comment that struck me most was from reader Sheena Batey. “We need to cling on to this notion as the darkest times seem to be upon us at the moment.”
Emilie Williams comment also moved me. “It is such a beautiful quote that reminds me that there is always something to be happy and grateful about, and that darkness does not last forever.”
And for reader Rebecca H on the Harry Potter quotation? “I love the message of hope this conveys. So positive!”
4 We all have the capacity for good and evil; the choice is ours
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are”
Sirius Black says this in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Our reader Angela Pagan says, “My son understood this as being good and bad, and he knows it’s his choice to be bad so has to be responsible for his actions on that choice. He’s learned a lot from Harry and friends.”
It’s also a favourite of Rachel Ray: “I love this because we all have potential if we choose to try and reach it and we should all be responsible for our choices and actions.”
5 Select your friends with care
“We cannot choose our fate, but we can choose others. Be careful in knowing that.”
Fiona Waterworth chose this quote from Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. It was said by Dumbledore, one of the wisest men in Harry’s wizarding universe. “I like it because it’s so true, others can affect your fate, if you pick incorrectly,” Fiona tells us.
6 Being brave makes you braver
“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
Ginny Weasley said this about growing up with her brothers Fred and George in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. “I love it because it’s so true, if you dare to try in life, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.” says Stephanie Coals.
7 There are all kinds of courage
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
“I showed this to my daughter when she was being bullied at school,” says Justine Meyer about this quote from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The message? Even small acts of bravery can change the world. “There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore. We might not all be awarded points for it like Neville Longbottom was in the same scene, but it still makes a difference.
8 You never know what’s around the corner
“You’re a wizard Harry.”
The moment in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where Hagrid comes to tell Harry he’s a wizard is pivotal to the story and one that many kids will know off by heart. It’s a turning point where Harry learns about who he really is and figures out why so much of his life hasn’t made sense up until then. Rebecca Duncan says this quote has provided lovely family moments in her home. “My husband says it in a funny voice to my son who ends up in hysterics every time. It’s nice to see them together enjoying something they both like!”
Others value its place in the narrative. “I love this quote because it’s the start of it all!” says Christine.
9 You can get away with a lot if you are honest
“I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”
“It reminds me of my son getting up to mischief!” says Liam Bishop. Like all good kids do.
10 Love is enduring
“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.”
This quote, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, provides the perfect sign off. It’s a favourite of Danielle Vedmore. “I love how much one word shows how much he loved Lily.”
But Suzanne Jackson has the last words of the post. “It means a lot to me, it’s always for me too.”
Thank you for all your quotes and wisdom
Thanks to all these readers and more for joining in and leaving these words of wisdom on our page. We always appreciate your comments.