"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
— The phrase that activates the Marauder's Map of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Twenty years ago, we were invited into Hogwarts. It was 1997 when J.K. Rowling published “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (known in the U.S. as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”). Since then, millions of muggles—the word for the non-magical majority of us—have read the series (in 79 languages) and watched as the books came to life on the big screen.
I first picked up “Sorcerer’s Stone” after graduating from college, and I was skeptical. I mean, aren’t these books for kids? But like so many others, I grew fond of Harry, “The Boy Who Lived.” I avidly read the entire series, laughing and crying as my favorite characters grew up together. I now proudly own a wand. And I share my love of Hogwarts with my children, reading my well-worn books to them every night at bedtime and watching them fall in love with the rich world Rowling created.
Post a Hogwarts acceptance letter. There are some great kits on Etsy, including a personalized letter from Professor McGonagall, a ticket to board the Hogwarts Express, a school supply list and a Hogwarts wax seal. These arrive by mail, not by owl, to avoid suspicion.
You’re in! Now get sorted into your house. Every Hogwarts student dons the sorting hat to find out if they’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin for the duration of their schooling at Hogwarts. You, too, can be sorted at Rowling’s official site, pottermore.com. (I’m a Ravenclaw, naturally).
Deck yourself out in Hogwarts house robes. I bought mine from Universal Studios, the official Harry Potter shop, but there are great robes available at your local costume store at this time of year. (It is almost Halloween, after all)
Eat some magical treats. As they ride the Hogwarts Express, students buy treats from the witch who rolls her cart down the corridor. Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans come in flavors that include peach and earwax. You never know what you’ll get until you bite in to one. Try a Chocolate Frog and find a wizard card inside—just like the ones Ron and Harry collect. You can find these treats on Amazon and at your local candy shop.
Read and re-read the books. There’s so much fantastic detail on every page that it’s a new experience every time you read them. Read the books aloud to your little ones or enjoy them on your own with a cozy fire and a warm blanket. Or, listen to the award-winning audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale—available at your local library or on Audible—which will, at the very least, make your morning commute more bearable.
Erin Hueffner is a writer and mom of two magical girls who live in McFarland. Erin never received her Hogwarts acceptance letter, so instead she attended University of Wisconsin–Madison where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.