The Harry Potter series will always be my go-to for Back to School. I usually re-read the books in September because the stories always span over the months of the academic school year, and so enhances the feeling of young adult nostalgia. So for your reading pleasure, I decided to compile a list of the best back to school scenes in the series.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: When Harry is Told that he is a Wizard
Ok I am pretty sure this one goes without saying. When Harry was 11 years old and found out he is a wizard, leaving behind his awful life at the Dursleys, it was the best feeling as a reader. The back to school scene in book 1 introduced us to the whole wizarding world: Diagon Alley, Gringotts, Florean Fortescue’s, Flourish and Blotts, platform 9 ¾ and of course Hogwarts. The halls, the floors, the classrooms, and the grounds were described in a way that we could almost smell the treacle tart through the pages. This is the best back to school scene because this is where that fictional world, which is all too real to some of us, took shape.
Yer a wizard Harry.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: When the Wizarding World Becomes Real
The Prisoner of Azkaban is by far my favourite book in the series. I enjoyed the back to school scene in this one because this is where the story begins to take a bit of a darker turn. Harry has just spent his summer in Diagon Alley, enjoying everything the wizarding world has to offer and things that he never was able to fully enjoy before turning 11. He has a sense of freedom for the first time in his life, which is why the presence of the Dementors is that much more daunting. Harry has only ever felt at home at Hogwarts, and these prison guards have the effect of creating a prison within his home; a real disappointment after Harry has spent most of his summer living carefree. We are introduced to the Wizard Prison as well as the Minister for Magic, so the world outside of Hogwarts starts to take shape.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: When the Triwizard Tournament is Introduced
The Goblet of Fire starts off with very eventful chapters, we get to see what Voldemort and Wormtail are up to, and then we are privy to the happenings at the Quidditch World Cup. The back to school scene in book 4 is special because it is announced that the Triwizard Tournament will be held at Hogwarts, and we learn about the event. I love this scene because Harry, Ron and Hermione have just had an intense encounter with a Death Eater, everything is getting more serious, there is uncertainty over Voldemort, but they can still be young and carefree in this scene.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: at Number 12, Grimmauld Place
For the first time ever, we can experience Harry having a summer with some semblance of a family. Even though the story is Dark after the events at the end of book 4, and the Ministry is refusing to believe the truth of what is going on, Harry is able to spend time with Sirius, the Weasleys and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, his return to Hogwarts is tainted by the introduction of Professor Umbridge, a.k.a evil incarnate. I think that book 5 does have some of the best school scenes because of the discovery of the Room of Requirement, and the DA. Up until then, Harry, Ron and Hermione mostly keep to themselves within their little group of friends, but in Order of the Phoenix, we learn a lot more about the other students and really feel like we are observing as another DA member.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: When Harry wins at Potions Class
At this point in the series, things are dark. Yes, the Ministry has finally acknowledged Voldemort’s return, but Harry lost Sirius. Despite this, I felt that the back to school scene in Slughorn’s potions class is probably one of the most entertaining insights into what academic life would be at Hogwarts, aside from when the impostor Mad Eye Moody demonstrates the Unforgivable Curses in book 4. I believe that the little sassy notes written in the margins of the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book are exactly what you would see in a used textbook. When Harry wins that bottle of Felix Felicis, I cheered him on because that scene represented us all, that one time we had a win in that class that had always been our worst subject.
There is no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.
You may be saying “what about when Harry and Ron fly the Ford Anglia back to Hogwarts in Chamber of Secrets? Well, honestly, that scene stresses me out more than anything. Of all the decisions they could have made in that moment, they made the WORST. Not only that, they are so hungry throughout the entire journey, only to arrive at school and have missed the feast. So, while I do understand that this was an exciting way of returning to Hogwarts, I am so into food that this scene is my actual worst nightmare.
There has been recent controversy around the author of the series. She has created a fictional world that we so love, that gave us comfort and excitement. J.K. Rowling’s opinions are not our own, and we wrote this article to celebrate the halls of our beloved Hogwarts.