Ready to begin your Hogwarts journey? Who can blame you? Simply flip open the first Harry Potter book and let’s begin.

So, you’ve probably heard of Harry Potter already, right? Probably caught a film on TV, probably got a mate who has a Hogwarts robe. And you’ve probably been thinking – ‘who is this Dumbledore fellow, anyway?’ ‘What is a Wingardium Leviosa?’

So what are the books about, exactly? Like, actually?

Okay: in a nutshell, a young 11-year old boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar called Harry Potter finds out that he’s a wizard with magical powers and must go to a special school to learn how to do magic. Along the way, he learns many secrets about his past, and discovers that not all wizards are good...

You’re going to be reading a lot of strange words

Quaffle. Flobberworm. Riddikulus! Get ready for all manner of weird and wonderful words, guys. These are not your every-day books. But don’t worry, everything will be explained as you go along, and soon, the words of the wizarding world will be a second language! And if you get really stuck, here’s a handy glossary to get you started.

And meet a lot of interesting people

Albus Dumbledore! Professor McGonagall! Who are all these curious people? For a book called “Harry Potter”, you do get a lot of fascinating names in this series... no offence, Harry. You’ll soon learn that wizards and witches are rather different to us, wear different sorts of clothes, and have many different interests. And it’s not just people too – prepare to meet magical creatures and even portraits that talk!

You may know a few things already – but that’s OK

If you’ve not read the books, that doesn’t mean you haven’t seen a Harry Potter film on the television. Or maybe a friend or family-member has told you all about how they’re a Gryffindor, and you’re like, ‘What?’ So you might know bits and bobs about the adventure already – but don’t worry. It’ll all make sense once you start at the beginning. Just maybe ask your friends to be nice and not spoil anything for you!

Things might get a little scary...

Are you squeamish? Be on your guard, then! At Hogwarts school, not everything is as it seems. Sometimes these books get a little frightening, especially when a certain someone called Lord Voldemort makes an appearance... but also watch out for giant spiders, werewolves, and more things we won’t spoil for you now.

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just a book – so you can always snap it shut if things get too much!

And the books will magically start getting bigger and bigger

As you read more Harry Potter books, you’ll learn that there’s just so much in the wizarding world that the books start getting fatter! But trust us, once you’ve read the first one and got hooked in, you’ll be even hungrier for more pages.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Don’t feel bad if you’re not the fastest reader in the world. There are seven Harry Potter books, and that’s a lot of magic to get through! Take your time, because you don’t want to speed through it too fast and miss something – there are loads of important mentions in the books that will become important in later books. We’ll give you a heads up on one: in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone for our US readers), a character called ‘Sirius Black’ is mentioned. Keep an eye on that name in particular...

And once you’re done, that’s definitely not the end

When we first finished the Harry Potter books, to say we were sad is an understatement. But chin up, you’ve actually started reading the stories at an exciting time. Now, there’s a new story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, that looks at the adventures of the wizarding world 19 years later. And then, if you fancy going back in time, you can watch the Fantastic Beasts films, which go all the way back to the 1920s where we meet a host of brand-new witches and wizards.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to read a Harry Potter book (except, maybe, upside down!) so give them a go, and you can always visit if you want to learn more about the wizarding world as you go along.

So, chapter one...

Illustration Jonny Duddle © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc