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Why You Should Read Harry Potter

Updated on October 21, 2010
M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer has been an avid reader for more than 20 years, with a preference for speculative fiction, and a minor in English.

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.

Witch Craft:

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.

Merchandising

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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    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      6 years ago from United States

      grinnin1 - Harry Potter has definitely created a unique situation in which an entire generation is growing up hungry for books. I'm hoping to catch that generation as it gets older with my own book, but in general, I'm happy that more people are reading. Thanks for the comment!

    • grinnin1 profile image

      grinnin1 

      6 years ago from st louis,mo

      So, so right on! I am an absolute fan of J.K. Rowling. I think the depth and breadth and scope of her characters, the twisting plots and alternating use of humor and terror and intrique are reminiscent of Shakespeare! She is wonderful and I enjoyed reading these as much or more than my kids did! Thanks for a great hub!

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      7 years ago from United States

      purp-drag913 - I was about 17 when I read the first Harry Potter novel and, once I fell in love with the story, I was incredibly disappointed that I was too old to receive my Hogwarts letter. Obviously there is no such thing, but it was that seed of a thought; that desire, that drove me to write my novel. I couldn't go to Hogwarts, so I was going to make a world all my own. That's pretty powerful stuff and J. K. Rowling should be very proud of the impact she has left on young readers. Thank you for the comment!

    • purp-drag913 profile image

      purp-drag913 

      7 years ago from West Michigan, USA.

      Great article, Dremer! What struck me were several things.

      1. My youngest daughter was Harry's age when she read the first book, and it got her caught up with her reading skill to her grade level.

      2. After she talked me into reading it, I was truly amazed at Rowling's descriptives. I could actually imagine myself there, first in Surry, then London, and on the Hogwarts Express to the school.

      3. I loved how the books aged Harry. I expected something like "The Hardy Boys," who never age; they just go onto the next mysery. The reading skill got more complex as the series went along. Had to use a Dictionary by book four.

      4. The grace and style of her writing. Need I say more?

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      7 years ago from United States

      visionandfocus - You're right, the internet is considerably more dangerous than any Harry Potter book. They may have witchcraft as a theme, but the internet actually has methods of performing witchcraft (rituals and herbs and such). If they would read the books, I'm confident they wouldn't be so afraid of them. Thanks for the comment!

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 

      7 years ago from North York, Canada

      I'm constantly amazed by people who form opinions (always negative) about books they have not read. I actually know someone who does not allow his children to read them (as if that would stop them) 'because they are un-Christian', and yet allows his children free rein of the internet. Oh yeah, there are more dangerous things in the HP books than on the net. What a smart chap.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Tahamtan - You're right, by killing off great characters she really created a sense of danger throughout each book. As an author you want your readers to be afraid when the villain shows up, and I think that Rowling did a great job making it work. Thanks for the comment!

    • Tahamtan profile image

      Tahamtan 

      7 years ago

      I loved Harry Potter. I just was amazed by how creative Rowling was and man.... Lots of effort. Besides the main story line, I really could relate with the main characters and as much as the death moments of some of the heroes saddened me, I think those were part of the plan to make the story more realistic and make the reader believe it since even the greatest characters could die as well.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      8 years ago from United States

      satomko - That's true. If one issue is offensive enough to someone, it can be easy for them to ignore all the other aspects of the book. There is so much more to Harry Potter than what I mentioned above. It could be discussed for hours.

    • satomko profile image

      Seth Tomko 

      8 years ago from Macon, GA

      Good analysis. The real problem is that people who take issue with the Harry Potter books don't want to have a real dialogue about the strengths, weaknesses, and merits of the books.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Aya_Hajime - I think the low point in the series was half-blood prince, for me at least. It just didn't seem to have the same flow or sense of adventure that the previous ones had. Maybe it was the darker themes, but they pulled it off a heck of a lot better in the sixth movie.

      Jaynie2000 - You're right, this is a great series for families to share. My mother, my nephew, and myself all like the books and we're in completely different age brackets.

      Lora Palmer - Magic definitely comes in many different forms. Like you pointed out, the Chronicles of Narnia have their fair share of magical creatures and objects. But there are also old favorites like the Wizard of Oz and the Never-ending Story that use magic. Harry Potter just harnesses the magic into something tangible every character can learn and use.

      Thanks for all your comments!

    • Lora Palmer profile image

      Lora Palmer 

      8 years ago from Warrington, Pennsylvania

      Great hub, and not just because I'm an avid fan of the books! You've definitely made a lot of great points here. The magic issue is especially the major point of controversy, and what a lot of people don't get is that magic in the Harry Potter books is different from magic that we think of typically. In the Harry Potter universe, magic doesn't involve calling upon outside entities that could potentially be dangerous. Instead, it's simply a God-given genetic ability.

      I think people realize that there's also magic in Narnia and in fairy tales, but object specifically to the use of "spells" in the Harry Potter books. But that comes from a misunderstanding of its use in the books. The "spells" are simply language to focus the words to create an action in the world, harnessing an innate ability. Otherwise, the kids would simply be creating random, uncontrollable magic causing unwanted things to happen when they're scared and angry. That's why they need training. Anyway, the "spells" in the books are not spells as we typically think of them, because they're mose definitely *not* asking some sort of questionable outside entity to do something.

    • Jaynie2000 profile image

      Jaynie2000 

      8 years ago

      These are some of my very favorite stories. You are so correct, they are not just for kids! However, my kids love it when I read the series aloud to them. Makes for great family together time.

    • Aya_Hajime profile image

      Aya_Hajime 

      8 years ago

      I had a lot of fun reading the Harry Potter books. I especially enjoyed reading the first few books up until about the Wizard tournament.

      The last couple of books I did not enjoy as much, but overall, the whole series was very entertaining. I also like the movies - I think they have done a good job with those.

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