“It’s getting late,” his mother said as she poked her head into Sebastian’s room, “you have to get up early tomorrow!”
“I still want to finish this chapter,” he begged, “it’s so exciting right now!”
“All right! But just this one chapter. If only you were as persistent in reading the textbooks,” she added jokingly.
Sebastian read two chapters. Afterwards he put the book on the lap of his giant teddy bear sitting by the bed and turned off the light with a sigh. Perhaps today he would be able to take a little of the adventures of Harry Potter into his dreams.
Although he was tired, he couldn’t fall asleep right away.
What was that?
Sebastian heard a rustling sound, like someone turning pages in a book.
Blinking cautiously, he opened his eyes and saw in the pale glow of the streetlight outside his window that the teddy bear beside his bed had opened the book and was reading.
He rubbed his eyes. But that wasn’t his teddy bear at all, for this one suddenly had a thick red beard and long red hair. Wasn’t that Hagrid, the giant and Harry Potter’s friend? Before Sebastian could marvel, there was a mighty rustle and an old man with a long white beard floated through the closed window in the beam of the streetlight. His long nose and glasses with crescent-shaped lenses clearly identified him as Dumbledore, the great wizard.
“Hagrid, would you like a mint?”
“Not until I finish studying this chapter, after all, I want to pass the entrance exam to the Order of the Phoenix.”
“Very commendable, dear friend,” Dumbledore nodded, popping a piece of candy into his own mouth.
“If only I could get all these words into my head,” Hagrid sighed.
“Reading is important, that’s what I keep telling Harry. You have to go about it the right way, though!”
“And how do you go about it properly?”
Dumbledore took a seat on the bookshelf across from Sebastian’s bed, having pushed aside a few books with his wand, which now floated in the air next to the shelf.
“It is important for the members of our order to know as much as possible about magic,” he began to teach in an insistent voice. “The most important can be found in books like the one you are reading now. I could recite it by heart, but that’s a magic trick and it doesn’t apply to the entrance test. But I will tell you the best way to learn it.”
Hagrid flipped the book closed and looked at Dumbledore eagerly. The latter smoothed his long beard and said:
“First you must get an overview, that is, read the preface and introduction written by my own hand. You should also skim the table of contents and all the chapter headings first. The book in your hand also has an index at the very end, in which all important magic words are arranged according to the witch alphabet. You should look through that for familiar terms. Next, you should read through one chapter at a time carefully, always thinking about what questions your magic teacher might ask about the text. Write these questions on question cards, such as such important questions for every wizard: “Why do you need magic herbs?” “What do spiders prefer to eat?” How can you defeat a Death Eater?”
The first time you review the chapter, write the answers in key words on the back of the cards. You always carry these cards with you and can work through them on breaks during your long walks.”
“But what do I do if I don’t know what’s important and what isn’t in a text?” objected Hagrid.
“Then ask yourself what is important to you personally and what can help you in the future when you do magic. Because that’s all that will be asked in the entrance exam.”
“Is that all there is to learning?”
“Almost, because making the flashcards is the most time-consuming work, but from time to time you should write the answers to the questions aloud in complete sentences and check them with the help of the answer on the back. Above all, you should always check the whole book to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. If you notice any gaps, you must write additional cards for them.”
Dumbledore rose from the shelf at these words and conjured the floating books back into place. Hagrid also rose ponderously, the thick book he had been holding on his lap all this time falling to the floor with a crash.
Sebastian startled, scooting up in his bed and rubbing his eyes in amazement. The room looked unchanged, except for the book lying on the floor next to his bed. Shaking his head, he picked it up and put it on the shelf with the other books that had been floating in the air moments before.
Glancing at his alarm clock, he realized it was only one in the morning. Sebastian climbed back into his bed and pulled the covers over his head. This time it took a little longer for him to fall asleep.