Note: Please, for the sake of my sanity and to facilitate a reasonable discussion, read my previous post on Harry Potter as well as all of the linked posts by Scott Peterson as well as the comments threads on those posts before posting a comment on this thread
Cecelia’s mommy asked a question in the comments on my previous post. My response grew to be too long, so I’m posting it as a new entry.
Just a question: Would not allowing children to read the books and hence not regarding them as children books make anything different? (It is more a theoretical/personal question rather than a “can we change the way society uses the books” question.) IOW, would not permitting children to read the books, at least not until a certain age, provide any redemption based on your post? I hope I was clear…I had trouble phrasing my question.
As a fun bit of fluff reading for mature audiences, sure HP is ok. I’m a bookaholic and I like fluffy fare and I don’t demand moral seriousness of all my reading. But I’m old enough to know that Harry isn’t a good role model.
I also know that a steaddy diet of light reading is not good. I’ve run into problems with that in the past. A couple of years ago I gave up reading all fiction for Lent. This was really necessary for me to break a bad habit that was interfering in my work.
I replaced reading fiction with non fiction spiritual reading. I read Story of a Soul, some Lewis and Chesterton, and I can’t recall what else. I only slipped once when I had a bad cold and was stuck in bed and even then I stuck to rereading The Chronicles of Narnia so was still sort of within the spirit of reading stuff that was spiritually nourishing.
I found after that Lent it was much easier for me to put down the fluffy fiction. I didn’t have the craving for it anymore. And it was much easier to vary my diet with more nourishing works.
I think that experience will help guide me when it comes to feeding books to my kids. I think they should be given lots of stuff that will build them up, nourish their imaginations in a healthy way. Stuff like Narnia and Lord of the Rings and Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I don’t think I would hand HP to a child. But if a child I thought was mature enough to handle it asked to read the books I don’t think I would object. I would, however, make sure to discuss with them the aspects of the books I find problematic.
Scott Peterson writes about his daughter’s reaction to Harry Potter: “Adults, one hopes, can recognize this for the flaw that it is (although again, I have not seen any mention of this kind of concern in a mainstream review). Perhaps some teenagers can discern the flawed nature of Harry�s actions as well. Max, for instance, actually gasped and buried her head when it came to one of Harry�s earlier transgressions and became increasingly distressed with each further moral lapse, sure that they were accruing and that his eventual comeuppance would be more severe and unpleasant indeed. Ah, the faith of a child.”
It sounds to me like he made a good judgement call when he read the book to his daughter. She had a good moral compass and knew when the story wasn’t going the way it should. And it sounds like reading hte book aloud allowed him to deal with questions as they arose.
I think that it has to be a judgment call of the parent, you know your child and whether they are mature enough to deal with a flawed hero and a story with problematic elements.
I forgot to mention in my book review that in her book Real Learning Elizabeth Foss included a review her homeschooled son wrote on HP. He didn’t like the book precisely because Harry gets away with lying and cheating and stealing and he decided he didn’t want to read any more of the HP books. Instead, he recommended the Redwall series.
Which just goes to show the benefits of home schooling, you can train your child’s tastes by the books you select so that when they come across books that are not as healthy, they don’t have a taste for them.
It’s like what happens when you don’t let kids eat sugar. Sometimes when they do encounter it at an older age they actually dislike the taste.
I hope that helps to answer your question. If not, maybe it will at least help you to rephrase it—if so I’ll give it another shot.
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