I cheated. I read the spoilers. I know who lives, who dies in the latest Harry Potter tome. And I'll probably still read it.
When I was a kid, reading a book -- any book -- was my preferred way to spend a morning, noon or night. I'm convinced that reading Little Women at least twice a year between the ages of 9 and 15 should get me some sort of record. I even recall being disappointed when Little House on the Prairie appeared on television, and the rolling hills and trees looked suspiciously more like California than the vast stretches of prairie described in the books I'd read. Not just the one book, but the entire series, and most of the books more than once.
What those books, and the dozens if not hundreds of others I devoured, did for me a therapist would likely have a field day decoding. For a start, they expanded my horizons beyond small-town Mid-West reality. They taught me to ask questions. They taught me to use my imagination.
When I discovered Harry and his pals five or six years ago I was hooked. J.K. Rowling's oh-so-richly created wizarding world jump started my imagination -- who doesn't need that from time to time? I think I read the first two or three books in about a week during a particularly trying summer.
I chuckle first, then get downright annoyed when I hear Rowling's critics claim the books lead young readers to the occult, or trivialize the battle between good and evil. So some kids are wearing capes and waiting for owls to deliver mail; at least they're reading. And asking questions. And imagining.