Today's post is from Nancy with the Girls In The Stacks. The Girls are such awesome ladies and their blog is one of the best out there!! Nancy used to be an aircraft interior designer but now has become a stay at home mom because of her two awesome kids. She currently lives in Colleyville, Texas (Dallas area) where she reads and blogs with the other girls, Shannon and Stacy.
According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling is the #1 most challenged/banned book of the decade (2000-2009).
Eleven years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had bought the newly released Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets novel and was excitedly telling a work friend all about it (and yes, I am an adult who reads children’s fantasy books – and proud of it!). She gave me a hesitant look, then said “Aren’t you worried about reading it because it glorifies devil worship?” My jaw just dropped.
After a moment I asked her if she had read either book (no). Getting up a head of steam, I then told her it was FICTION and I was sure I could tell fact from fiction, AND that I was sure my belief in God was safe even though I was reading about witches and wizards, AND I had never read any parts about devil worship but the minute I ever came upon one I would let her know. I know, I know – I was a smart-aleck, but in my defense, I was pregnant and hormonal, and maybe just a teensy bit defensive of my reading choices.
As I remember at the time, controversy over the book was in the news. Many religious leaders advised their flocks to not let their children read such books, as they thought it could lead to a fascination with the occult. Here I will interject that yes, children do imitate things they read, see and hear. However, swishing a wand and running around the house on a broomstick is pretty tame, especially compared to the stories I hear of children imitating the violence constantly on television, or the never ending stream of trashy reality TV and popular music where bad behavior and sexual promiscuity are the norm.
As a parent, there are things that I don’t want my children learning about until they are older and more mature. I understand and agree that I need to protect my children from growing up too fast. But grow they do – and when they are mature enough to understand the way the world works, I want them to be able to read a book and think critically about it for themselves. I want them to ask the difficult questions about life and have the courage to explore tough situations within the safety of a book as opposed to exploring them in real life.
Banning books removes information from kids when they might really need it most, when they are dealing with pressures and situations with their peers and have questions they are too embarrassed to ask of adults. It also makes those books that much more tantalizing and attractive to curious children. Why not read and discuss them with your children, at an appropriate age? Have an honest and open dialogue with your kids?
When my daughter was 9, we started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud together at bedtime. Even now, at 11, we still read books together. She is a voracious reader, just like her mom, who asks questions about what she reads and loves to share her favorite books with me. Sometimes we talk about the choices characters make – was that the best choice? What could he have done differently? I feel like my daughter is smart enough to know that witches and wizards don’t exist, and that God is the ultimate miracle worker. Yes, I allow my daughter to read Harry Potter – and I’m proud of her.