Twenty years ago, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” hit bookshelves, and introduced a World of magic that resonated with millions of children. Now as Harry Potter turns 37 those who grew up with Harry Potter are reminded once more of the magic. When Hagrid brought Harry that squished "Happee Birthdae" cake in the hut in the middle of the sea, Harry finally found hope, and the magical journey began.

Rowling's 'Harry Potter' magic not limited to books

The fantastical world that JK Rowling made produced magic that is not limited to the books and movies.

It also showed its impact in the real world. A study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology which was cited by Scientific American from 2013, showed that reading literary fiction results in better social perception and increased empathy in its readers. As it turned out, fantasy books like "Harry Potter" could be a great help to educators in teaching values like tolerance – something that is desperately needed in today’s society.

Rowling’s books connect not only with kids but with adults as well. An article in the Free Press Journal noted that adults, too, need to disappear into fantasy worlds, maybe even more than kids do. Such elements of escapism made the series even more relatable to the audience.

Harry Potter’s story gets progressively darker in the books, and as he matures, he encounters problems in the wizarding world that are quite similar to the real world. For those who grew up during the books' initial release, these moments made Harry more than a character, it made him their friend. The series not only showed Harry struggling with himself, it also serves as a commentary to what the real world is dealing with, including inequality between pure bloods, half-bloods, and muggle-born wizards, werewolf infection which can serve as metaphor for HIV and AIDS problems, and even political inaction shown by the Minister of Magic’s refusal to admit the presence of evil and danger.

Potter fall out - loyalty, love, and friendship

The "Harry Potter" series also showed that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. While comics and fairy tales showed knights in shining armors, Harry, who felt ignored and mistreated his whole life has it in him to save the world. There’s the wise, old Dumbledore, who was not only a teacher and a mentor but a friend.

There’s Dobby the house-elf, a protector more than anything. There’s Hermione, whose smarts got them out of sticky situations and of course, there is Ron and his unwavering loyalty. Snape, whose unrelenting love put himself in danger to fight for a cause.

For all the magic, Harry Potter showed children love, loyalty, friendship. And best of all, as Dumbledore put it, it taught its audience that “happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”