Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week: Harry Potter (series)

Harry Potter has been in the limelight for a number of reasons; reaching the top of the charts in sales, obsessive fans, great gatherings of people dressed up as wizards, movies based on the books which have made millions, children growing inspired to read after reading the books, the list goes on.

One of the reasons Harry Potter is known is because it has been frequently challenged to be banned for it's occult and satanic undertones... well, that's what they think. It was one of the top 10 most challenged books in 2003, 2002, and 2001. It's also listed at number 48 out of 100 of the top 100 most challenged books in 100 years.

I love Harry Potter. I love every single thing about it. I love the story of J.K. Rowling's life and how it was ultimately turned around due to her having a little bit of creativity. I love the stories themselves. I love that they showed me just how quickly I can read if I really set my mind to it. I love how I grew up along side the characters in the books. And I love that these books caused children to read and read and read.

As a child I was always scolded for reading too much. My mother wanted me to take breaks, rest my eyes, go outside and play or watch some tv, and GO TO BED and stop reading with a flashlight under the sheets. I tried to fool her for years. At first, I'd keep the light on and if I heard her coming I'd shut it off but she always caught the light going out from under my door. Then I tried to sit with a flashlight reading the books (we had one of those huge army lights) and she still saw the light under my door. Then I became clever, I got a tiny flashlight and hid under my blankets, but after years of reading when I should be asleep my mother checked on me anyway- discovering me hiding. So to me, I never understood how kids could 'hate' books. I didn't understand how they would find them 'boring'.

I think Harry Potter changed a lot of their minds. With those seven books children realized that reading can be fun and was worthwhile. Suddenly these kids who never picked up a book in their lives were flying through this series before I even picked up The Sorcerer's Stone. No one in no way was going to beat me out to be known as the book worm in school so I picked up the books too.

By that point I was 13 and the third book had been out for awhile. I devoured the first three then began to wait impatiently for the next and the next. And every time I got a hold of one of the Harry Potter books I would read them in a matter of hours. The final book came out the summer before my senior year of college. It was the end of the series and more or less the end of my childhood. That summer I moved out of my childhood home, the first move I ever made in my life, and it was my last summer vacation. Not only that, but I was saying goodbye to a cast of characters whom I had grown up with and felt as familiar with as I did with my friends.

To think of this classic being banned from schools and children being prevented to read about this magical world makes me sick.

I'm sorry if I got this wrong... but aren't the witch trials over? Aren't we done with inquisitions and pointing our fingers screaming 'witch!'? I might be totally wrong... but doesn't banning books kind of remind anyone of the witch trials? "You are evil and wrong and we don't like you. You cause harm and people think bad things. You make little children believe in evil things! You make them READ! How dare you Harry Potter! Take your sorcery and go away!" Because a books content isn't exactly what we agree with we show a form of printed racism towards it? We punish the book? Because these books have witch craft in them and an evil bad guy they will corrupt our children?

I feel that the books, in many ways, can be comparable to other works of literature and even scripture. If we take this from a religious standpoint is there not mere mortals who are set up against evil things (Satan, devils, whatever). Aren't they set up and tempted to turn away from good and yet... they have to make the ultimate sacrifice or decision? Just about every book, every story, every piece of HISTORY has this type of theme. There is evil and there are people who are just trying to surpass it. They're trying to get by on what means they have and live by their morals.

So the characters in Harry Potter fly on brooms and wave wands. So what? It's a book. It's magic and creativity all at your finger tips. It's a chance to escape into this other world and grow and learn with these characters who aren't much different then yourself.

I adore these books and I feel they have no way to harm anyone. If you want to be picky, I feel that real life news events and newspapers have a lot more reading material who could be potentially harmful. These books get kids to read. They get them to open new doors and experience new things. J.K. Rowling has a great vocabulary so not only are these kids learning that reading is fun but they're learning a whole new way to speak too. I love these books, absolutely and positively. These are another group of books where I feel- if I ever have children- I'll read the books to them. I cherish my seven hard cover copies of the books. They sit in order on my book shelf with all of the other random Harry Potter related books. I've seen every one of the movies and stood anxiously on line during opening night. I cheer on J.K. Rowling for continuing the series despite so many cries of 'evil' and 'satanic happenings'. A lot of the accusations could shake a person, but you stood strong and kicked butt in the process.



  1. I love the Harry Potter series! I can't believe they are on the banned book list. I remember getting these books in the mail the day they would come out! They really did make me want to read when I was younger. I reread the sixth and seventh books before the movie came out this summer and they were still as good as I remember them to be. I'm sure I'll be reading them to my kids one day too =)

  2. Those people are idiots, the harry potter books are not evil, and also banning them will just make kids want to read them more.


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