JK Rowling Commencement Speech

Have you read or listened to J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech? You can do either here. I’ve read it, but I think I’ll play the recording while I prepare lunch today; I enjoyed the read, and I’d like to hear it in Rowling’s voice.

I pulled a couple of quotes from it that I especially like:

There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.



But what I liked best were her thoughts on imagination:

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.


We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I think this explains why our world leaders should be readers. Readers exercise their imaginations and are better able to imagine Something Better. Maybe in addition to requiring that our President be born in the US, we should require our President to have read a certain number of books. And not just history books, economics books, and the like, silly books, fun books, books that stretch the imagination.

Categories: Reading

3 replies »

  1. Thank you so much, Jen, for the comments on Rowling’s speech. Reading your blog and following your link to read the speech is an awesome way to begin my day today. I found myself encouraged to be more thankful for the little blessings I encounter every day and to be better understanding of those who “choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience”. I look forward to a better world through the power of just one Harvard graduate in that audience to “imagine better”.

  2. I’m glad you liked it, too, Gayle. Some of the Harvard students felt Rowling was undeserving of the gig, but you can’t ever please everyone, so no point dwelling on that. I thought she was great.

  3. What wonderful quotes! I have loved the Harry Potter books, and suspected she was a bright and thoughtful individual. Thanks for the heads up.