Why You Should Read Harry Potter
I realize that by writing this article I'm at risk of sounding overly promotional (when reading the title). However I wrote this as a means to address a lot of the reasons people have given for not reading the Harry Potter series. That's not to say everyone will love it. Just because I hold it up on a pedestal doesn't mean you will. My hope is only that you, after reading this, give the books a try rather than disregard them based on one of the issues I'm about to list below. It would be a shame that anyone would pass up one of this generations greatest book series (if not the greatest) because of a misguided view of the books.
I'm going to start by addressing the most familiar reason people refused to read these books; witch craft. When Harry Potter first started to become popular an uproar materialized, claiming that these whimsical little books promoted the use of witchcraft, and is therefore promoting the devil. This argument isn't as common as it used to be, but every now and again you'll meet someone who gives you the stink eye when you mention the boy wizard. Generally this tends to come from people who have not read the book, because after they read it; they realize there isn't anything evil about it (any more than the Chronicles of Narnia or Percy Jackson and the Olympians). This is because these books do not promote evil. They are fictional stories about children growing up and struggling to make the world right. The three main characters are eleven in the first book. Harry, our main character, is new to the world of magic and serves as our eyes and ears. Ron is the second youngest in a huge family and is trying to make a name for himself among the long legacy before him. And Hermione is the bookworm that is a prodigy even though she didn't come from a wizard family. These three children go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where they learn how to use their abilities and solve mysteries. However since I discovered the series, I have never once heard Professor Mcgonagall tell her students to transfigure their books into demons, or professor Flitwick tell his students to charm stars and circles into their foreheads. Even the frequently evil Professor Snape never once asked Harry to brew a potion that would kill all of humanity.
What we have here is one of the oldest stories ever told: good versus evil and the importance of loved ones in our lives. The book is categorized as a fantasy and it earns that title with droves of spells and amazing creatures, but there are a great many human ideals and emotions in the book (just like any other well told story). These children act like normal children, get into trouble like normal children, and make bonds like normal children. The only difference is that these normal children happen to be learning magic instead of arithmetic, (I think a lot of people would prefer magic). But the magic they learn isn’t something they use to worship the devil, or to do evil deeds. The villains use it for evil, but they're supposed to; villains will use anything for evil, that's why they're villains. Harry and his friends use magic like we use our knowledge in anything else; problem solving and as an aid in everyday matters.
Anyway the Harry Potter series doesn't promote the devil through association with witchcraft. While there are some people whose minds will never be changed on this issue, I make to them the following counter argument: Magic, and therefore witchcraft, is in many other stories other than Harry Potter. Stories that today we may not regard as fantasy. I'm not going to name names, because I don't want to offend anyone, but think of a story you hold in high regard and ask yourself if it contains an element of magic; something that seems impossible. If that story helped you or, at least, didn't harm you, then Harry Potter is no threat to you or your children.
Books for Kids
Moving onto the next reason that readers might avoid Harry Potter: the age factor. Walk into any local library and you will find Harry Potter under the juvenile, young adult, or childrens section. This may put off certain people because either they don’t see it, or they think the book is beneath them. Well let me tell you right now that this book is anything but beneath you.
The ideas and emotions expressed in these books are just as real and complex as you would hope for in a well written book. Anyone can instantly relate back to their childhood and the sense of discovery and growing up. These books manage to bring the child out in you, even if you haven’t seen a classroom for fifty years. Harry has to be one of the easiest characters to identify with. He has a horrible family, his life sucks, and in the real world no one knows who he is. Remind you of anyone? Yourself perhaps? Although even if your family is a dream and you are a happy millionaire you can still love these books. Harry is the child within all of us, and you will love him, I guarantee it.
I would also like to point out J. K. Rowling’s seamless writing style. Some childrens books are noticeably watered down for young readers, but it isn’t so here. J. K. Rowling manages to say exactly what needs to be said and nothing that doesn’t. I have heard that some readers glaze, or skip over long winded descriptions or other parts of a book they find uninteresting, but that doesn’t happen here. Every single word has a purpose; every sentence brings you more into the story and has the potential hints to solving the ultimate mystery. Your eyes glide unhindered across the page to the point that you often forget you're reading a book. And the story moves along in such a way that you never feel like you're missing the good stuff or that the author is just shoveling over filler material to balloon the page count.
While reading the book is easy, it doesn't insult your intelligence either. The book gives you the information you need with wonderful descriptions that make the world come alive. it is beautiful writing. I myself strive to be like J. K. Rowling in her style; it is the way words were meant to be read, simple, to the point, but immersive enough to give a grand, accurate picture of what is happening. I do understand, however, that not everyone enjoys her writing style, and if you have read the book I will respect that. Just because I think she writes well doesn't mean everyone else will. That is largely based on an opinion you have to form by reading the author's words.
The last argument I will make regarding age is this: Imagine a normal day in the life of you; family, job, general stress, etc. You go out to check the mail and find an unusual letter. You don’t know what it is or who it is from, but the writing on the outside is in a shiny green ink and finely hand-written.
You open the envelope, curious to see what’s inside and you find a letter, written in the same green ink. Your eyes glance down the page, reading line after line, but not really comprehending it. Then it hits you; the letter is telling you that you're a wizard. You; a regular person going about your daily life, is actually a being of immense magical power. Not only that but the letter is also inviting you to learn in a magical school how to use your abilities and meet an entire world of hidden people, beasts, and locations. And of course there's that last little bit that identifies you as both a savior and the most famous person in this world you never knew existed.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't be excited in that situation.
I just described the beginning of the first Harry Potter book. Now whether or not you're a fan of the fantasy genre, it's hard to deny that learning you had a wonderful gift that would transport you to a world most of society doesn't even know about, would be a phenomenal experience. The Harry Potter books bring out our most desired dreams and fantasies and then throws them at a boy who we can easily identify with.
I also want to point out that you shouldn’t look at this series as a lighthearted fairy tale either. There is a very dark side to the wizarding world as well, just like our own world. And many times J. K. Rowling hits on some sensitive subjects and adult situations.
Now maybe the reason you've shied away from these books is because of all the media, hype and merchandising surrounding it. An over-abundance of exposure can turn people off to a franchise. I know because I have been a victim of it myself. I disliked Pokémon for no reason other than it was everywhere. This often results in a distortion of what the original product really is. In the case of Pokémon, the general public was introduced to it as a money-making fad that brainwashed our children into 'catching them all'. While that assessment isn't entirely wrong, that is not what the core product was. The source of all this was a well designed role playing video game. I didn't even realize it was a video game until long after seeing the Pokémon name plastered on advertisements and television. Much like Harry Potter, it ballooned into something different; something more mainstream that caught the attention of people who wouldn't have otherwise known about it. In some cases this gave the wrong impression. But the books are what they've always been; books. So when you see a Harry Potter brand dinner plate or action figure, don’t judge the books on those. If you see the movies and think it is nothing special, don’t judge the books on those either.
The only real way to experience the Harry Potter series is to read it. It isn't the same to eat off a picture of him, trip over an action figure or even watch the movies. They are all different incarnations of the same book, but none of them can totally recreate the source material.
So if you're one of those people who say; “I’m not going to be sucked into that fad,” ask yourself this question; why is Harry Potter still popular? Most fads emerge and disappear relatively quickly, but Harry Potter is still around, just like Pokémon. The reason isn't because the publisher discovered the secret to fad immortality, it's because the core product is still good. The Harry Potter books are consistently amazing and, even though I have never played a Pokémon game, I assume they are no different. If you continue to produce a good product, it will continue to sell and/or be popular.
With this in mind I'm going to issue a challenge to those who have avoided Harry Potter, for whatever reason, to pick up the first book: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.) and give it a read. Don’t let the media, the labels, or opinions of others direct your interpretation. You have your own opinion and the only way to use it is to read the book and form one. If you don’t like it, no problem, it's impossible for everyone to like it. But at least, after reading it, you will have evidence to back up any disagreement or disapproval you might have. But don’t avoid an amazing story, that you could very well love, just because you think it’s not for you. The books are popular for a reason, and that is all you need to know.
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