Harry Potter and the Issue of Banned Books
Rowling, J. (1997). Harry potter and the scorcer’s stone. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Sometimes you have to try things more than once; this was true for me of the Harry Potter series when I was younger. As a young reader I was easily distracted. Unless a book hit the ground running, I usually didn’t have the stamina to get past the exposition. This typified my relationship with the Harry Potter books and many other literary works as a young adolescent. I still remember my initial experience with Rowling’s first installment, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read one chapter of the book, and decided I didn’t want to spend my time on it. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I didn’t understand why people liked it, I didn’t understand why people hated it, and I didn’t understand why it was banned in some libraries. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I was able to delve into the series and find out about all the commotion. Many conservative parents disapproved of the book. Some thought it filled children’s heads with nonsensical, sinister thoughts about witchcraft and dark magic. After reading the books myself, it’s not hard to see why. The whimsical world of Harry Potter is enough to leave kids running into walls and jumping in toilets to find the real world of witches and wizards hidden right before their eyes (and if you’re not familiar with the series that sentence probably sounds even stranger). The books and movie series gained such a large fan base that it could even be seen by some parents as a cult following. However, once kids get over the disappointment that their Hogwarts acceptance letter is never going to come, it makes all the hysteria seem just plain silly. Avid readers don’t just love the book for its sense of whimsy and fantasy; they love it for its exquisite writing, depth of plot, and reader relatability.
Beyond the obvious presence of magic and witchcraft, the Harry Potter series has enduring themes that resonate with readers of all ages. Even in tough times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. True friends are the ones that stand by your side no matter what. Always do the right thing whatever the cost. Even after death, there is hope for a greater life. And this series definitely has one feature that is sure to hook young readers: emotion. Countless great relationships with reading start when a mere book can make its reader feel such an emotional connection that goes beyond the pages themselves. Speaking from personal experience, the moment Harry triumphs over his enemy and the embodiment of evil itself, I was nearly moved to tears. Reading can be a religious experience when the lessons learned touch the reader’s heart. After a rocky beginning, this became my relationship with Harry Potter. It may sound cheesy, but this young adult, 7 book, pop culture series reminded me once again how important it is to fight for the good in world in the midst of such devastating evil.
So is it okay to take the possibility of such a reading experience away from a young adolescent? I don’t think so. Because with every book there is a lesson to be learned.