Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books Week - Day Three

Today I'd like to feature a series of books that has been seriously challenged over the last decade.  It's also been one of the bestselling series of all time.  It's none other than Harry Potter.

Most everyone who knows me knows of my great love for Harry, and I'm not shy about my adulation for J.K Rowling.  So it's no surprise that I'm defending Harry against those who would challenge him.

You may be asking what on earth anyone would have against the boy wizard who leads the ultimate battle of good against evil.  The answer to that is: religion.

Many religious leaders believe the Harry Potter books promote witchcraft.  And sure, the magical world of Hogwarts is the main setting for the books.  But if you look beyond the setting, you will see that the story of Harry is really about friendship, loyalty, and that honor, above all else, is worth more than any magical power.  I don't know any religion that doesn't strive for those ideals.

Beneath every stated challenge ("Witchcraft is evil"), I believe there is another, unstated challenge.  And the unstated challenge to Harry Potter is that parents, teachers, and religious leaders fear that if a child reads about witchcraft, they will start to question their faith.  What's so ironic about this fear is that the major theme of the Harry Potter books is having faith in what you know is right, and staying true to your convictions.  It's about fighting for what you believe in, even to the death.  Religious leaders have started wars over those very same ideas.

And so once again I find myself saying: Read the book before you condemn it.  Read the book with your children.  Talk to them about it.  I dare anyone who picks up a Harry Potter book not to be swept into the story.  Reading these books is a truly magical experience, and it would be a shame to deny that special brand of magic to any child.

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