19 years ago I was a young teacher getting excited for the start of the summer holidays. I was pregnant with my first child and I planned to spend the summer holidays relaxing by catching up on my reading. As a primary teacher I was been keen to read children's fiction, eager to keep up with reading trends and always on the lookout for something new to read to the children in my class.
I vividly remember settling down to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in my garden. It was a beautiful sunny day, one of those days where you're surrounded by the sounds of lawnmowers, children playing, and bees flitting from flower to flower. But I don't remember any of those details because I was hooked in the world of muggles and wizards. I don't even remember stopping to have lunch.
At last, I'd found an author as exciting as Roald Dahl, but in the early summer of '98 there was only one book published - I had to wait for the release of The Chamber of Secrets.
The first class I read Harry Potter to was a fabulous Primary Six class in a school where literacy was poor. But I had a secret weapon. I had a young wizard who was really an ordinary boy trying to make sense of the world of grown-ups. In many ways, he was just like them.
And I was right to place my trust in the book. A couple of chapters in and they were hooked. And then something incredible happened...
I went out to the line to collect the children in and I couldn't believe it, several of them had nagged their mum to buy them the book and they were standing in line reading. And it didn't stop there. The fever spread.
When I went out to the line the next morning more children had a copy of the book in their hands. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that, for many of these children, Harry Potter was the first book they ever owned.
We agreed as a class to go back to the beginning of the book and they would sit with their own copy and follow along as I read the chapters aloud. They were even reading in the dinner hall. Many of them read ahead to the end, but they vowed to keep the ending a secret.
We wrote to the little known J.K. Rowling that year and she wrote back to tell us she was busy working on the third book of the series. The children were delighted with her letter and I'm sure they were among the first to get their hands on a copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.