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July 29, 2006

Question 7: Harry Potter

Blogathon 2006

Maryellen asks: Do you like Harry Potter?

Short Answer: Yes! So much fun.

Long Answer: I suspect that anyone in the library world (or education world) has heard a lot about the various controversies associated with these books. My quick takes on the big two:

The magic/censorship issue: I totally respect a parent's right to determine what his child is or isn't allowed to read when. I do not, however, think a parent has a right to influence what someone else's child is allowed to access, and therefore what is in the library. End of story.

The "But now kids aren't reading good books!" issue: 1. Says who? I don't think we'll have any idea which current novels are "good" until at least a hundred years from now. Just because people like it doesn't mean it's bad. And 2. At least they're reading! I firmly believe that reading anything is better than reading nothing, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading for entertainment.

Posted by Kat at July 29, 2006 05:00 PM

Have you notices the controversies tend to crop up around popular things only? It's almost a sour grapes issue. "Everybody likes it so it must be just horrible. How dare people be happy?" We get it with Pokemon because, they say, it rhymes with "demon" (the Japanese took the words "pocket" and "monster" and joined them). I might mention, so does "sermon". I was so thrilled when Yu-Gi-Oh came under attack. It meant the ratings were good enough Kids WB would finish out the series.

I have a funny story on that topic though. A first grade class was supposed to do a little school play about a fish. The fish was supposed to swim to 32 countries and see a tiny bit of the culture there. So it swam to Germany and saw Octoberfest. It swam to Japan and saw a tea ceremony. It swam to Isreal and saw some people dance a hora. Nothing amazing.

The PTA insisted it be banned because, get this, the fish went to 32 countries. 32 + 1 = 33. 33 * 2 = 66 and that's one digit away from the number of the beast so the play was Satanic. The school cancelled the play.

Yes, the PTA could be proven to be Satanic by the exact same number crunching.

Posted by: Ivy at July 29, 2006 05:07 PM

Seriously! I mean, who else has inspired 8-year olds to read 800-page novels?

(And, in point of fact, it inspired my partner to pick up fiction again -- even if only sporadically -- after a bad lit professor in college turned him off reading.)

Posted by: sprite at July 29, 2006 05:12 PM

I could design a classic literature class around the books, and it would be very thorough. She touches everything. Kafka. Ancient Egypt. Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies. Alchemy. Barely known historical figures like McGonagal. Her Latin is bang on and the Brittish version has the Hogwart's motto, which roughly translates into "Don't tickle a sleeping dragon."

The book has been translated into so many languages, even dead languages (book 1 is out in Attic Greek and Latin and book 2 is coming out in Latin) because they're such a joy to read it takes some of the work out of studying. I want to find the Spanish version next.

Posted by: Ivy at July 29, 2006 05:41 PM

As a rabid Harry Potter fan (who is also writing an HP fanfic for the 'thon) I say "Hear! Hear!" :-)

Posted by: JL at July 29, 2006 05:47 PM

I love Harry Potter - I'll try to check in on you later tonight!

Posted by: trek at July 29, 2006 06:18 PM

Hmm.. Harry Potter. I tend to fall on the "If kids are reading..." side of the fence - because there are so many things that are far less "literary" for kids (Captain Underpants or Gossip Girl, anyone?) that to condemn good old HP for taking kids away from good books, we're in effect, taking away the vast majority of popular children's and teen books. And any time you take (age appropriate) books out of the hands of young people, I think you're doing a great disservice to literacy.

(but personally I'm not a Harry Potter fan)

Posted by: Liz (2) at July 29, 2006 06:28 PM

My cousin's husband didn't want his kids to read the HP books because they "glorified witchcraft". You know, becauese HP was the good character and a wizard. Yeesh. He thought it would ruin their faith in God. If their faith in God is so shaky that HP can destroy it utterly, that's not much faith to begin with.

Personally, reading anything is good.

Posted by: Carrie K at July 29, 2006 11:29 PM
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