Harry Potter and the Banned Book Brigade
Harry Potter Controversy
When we think of Harry Potter, we see a lighting bolt shaped scar across the forehead of a four eyed kid with a stick that does magic things like make light or zap people. On the other hand, we might envision children dressed in wizard robes surrounding a theater just opening up for the first showing of the newest film in the series (I'm going to miss those days). I personally remember my mother bringing me home the first book right when it came out and fighting with my twin sister over who gets to read it first, something that would become somewhat of a tradition with each new part in the series. If you're like me, you practically grew up with the kid who once lived in a cupboard. Maybe ol' Harry is even the reason why you got into the whole reading scene in the first place.
Ever cross your mind that there might be real life dementors out there wanting to suck the life out of Harry Potter for good? Me neither. I even get giddy finding out there's a Harry Potter Wikipedia site full of definitions for those unfortunates who have no idea what dementors are. Believe me when I tell you that, yes, there are those out there who hate Harry Potter, and yes, they want to ban these books if they can.
An Overview of the Harry Potter Books and Universe
- An Overview of the Harry Potter Books and Universe
For those few out there who still don't know who Harry Potter is, a brief overview of the Harry Potter Books and universe created by J.K. Rowling.
Why Attack Such a Lovely Series of Books?
"You are protected, in short, by your ability to love! The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort's! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of 11, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart's desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches."
-- Albus Dumbledore
What regular muggles don't recognize is the fact that much of what Harry Potter is about isn't magic tricks or fierce battles but, as cheesy as it sounds, the power of love. Harry derives his greatest strength from the love of his mother, who died for him and left him her protection from harm. In addition to this superpower, he has his closest friends, who back him up, guide him, and just plain help him at his weak points. Harry is able to evade and defeat his mortal enemy, Voldemort, because Voldemort doesn't understand love or see it as a strength. Instead he uses fear and brutality to meet his ends and, as we all know, fails in defeating Harry because of his obvious set backs.
So, how does a book about love develop a following to take it off the bookshelves for good despite the fact that it has proven to help get kids to read again?
One main reason that people are working to ban this book is because they say it is full of bad ideas.
Of course, to figure out the mystery and defeat the bad guys, Harry has to break a couple rules in the novels. In other words, he actively defies authority and is rewarded for it instead of punished, as those against the books would say. What they fail to recognize or just choose to ignore, is the fact that those rules that Harry and his friends twist and break and the figures they challenge all stand in their way for the greater good.
Should children learn to bow their heads to authority just because it's "the right thing to do," despite the fact that lives are being threatened, including their own, if their situation really mirrors Harry's? Furthermore, Harry and his friends undergo punishment, such as detention, for the rules they bend and break so saying they go unpunished for wrongdoing is false.
It's Too Scary
Another big reason why these people believe the series should be banned from the bookshelves is that Harry Potter's story is too scary for the little ones. I don't think I need to say more in arguing this point than: wait until you think they're old enough to read. Taking a book away from the general population just because your child is too young to differentiate between fantasy and reality is a sorry excuse. Plenty of kids out there are old enough to do it. I was 10 years old when I got my hands on the first book of the series and was never too scared to keep reading.
Yes, the further on in the story the darker it gets but there's no reason to let them wait til they're ready to read it instead of just sweeping it out from under them. I was lucky to be able to grow up with Harry so I things never got too intense for me as a young reader. Still, I admit that everyone's different.
Of course the real biggie when it comes to why certain individuals believe Harry Potter books should be banned is magic. Some, like Carol Rockwood of St. Mary Island Church of England school, believe that witchcraft is real, declared evil in the Bible, and should be avoided at all costs. Harry Potter makes magic look fun and makes it a good and bad power and so in her eyes, as I'm sure others with her mindset would agree, it promotes witchcraft and may lead readers down the "wrong path." Rockwood believes that this book takes away from the reality and the seriousness of witchcraft and the strength of the Bible.
Nothing in J.K. Rowling's novels is seriously taken from any witchcraft. Also, there are plenty out there who do not believe witchcraft exists at all, whether they read the novels or not. There is not one single part of the story that is true and children recognize when something is a fantasy and not real. If they, for some reason, did not, it wouldn't be difficult for a parent or guardian to explain and for that child to trust their word over that of a novel.
Should Harry Potter be banned?
Do you think Harry Potter should be banned?
An Agreement Amidst the Argument
What I love about discussing whether or not a book should be banned is the fact that both sides can agree to the power of the book in question. Words have a strength that will always bring books under investigation as to whether or not they deserve a spot on the shelf or in the classroom. No matter what, I believe everyone has the right to every piece of literature ever created so that they can decide for themselves what can be displayed upon their own bookshelf or left abandoned in a bookstore.
© 2011 LisaKoski