I took a bit of offense over the article written by Kim Franke Folstad about the Harry Potter books.
Although she admits that the school system is right in being careful and cautious about not reading the books aloud, she ends the article in a scolding, superior tone, which I didn't appreciate.
I have read the first Harry Potter book myself, in curiosity about what all this hoopla was about, and also to determine for myself if it is something I want my 12- and 9-year-old sons to be reading. After encountering Harry and his antics in just the first book, I was able to firmly and completely make my decision. Absolutely NOT! This would not be a household reading book, nor did I consider it to be good literature (as some have stated), nor pure fictional fun.
I'll admit, Ms. Rowlings is a fabulous author. She spins a story with creativity and engages the reader into wanting to know more, more, more. However, the dangers in the books are all too real. The accounts of witchcraft are too explicit, too detailed, and it is too easy for a child to try to imitate or evoke these spells, even if only for "fun." The descriptions and instructions are there and based on true accounts of wizardry and witchcraft. If you don't believe me, read it for yourself.
A huge concern I have is that the books make Harry and his "kind" to be the superior race, and us poor humans are the inferior ones. Don't you think that this will make kids long and yearn to be witches and warlocks, so that they too can be "superior?" There is danger in that, as it is a real world and not just fictional. The world of wizardry and witchcraft exists, and there is no denying it. That is not my opinion, it is a fact.
The other concern I have is that by the author, Ms. Rowlings' own admission, the series grows "darker" and filled with "more evil" as the action progress from book to book. Do you really want your children so deeply entrenched in this type of reading pleasure? What goes into your eyes (through the printed page) gets into your mind, and your heart, and your actions follow.
Think about that as your children reread Potter for the fourth time and continue to request the sequels. What is getting into their minds and hearts? Is it pure magical fun? How easily can they enter into that magical world? And are they really capable of separating reality from fiction? It's been proven that a 10-year-old doesn't always know the difference.
These stories are exceptionally explicit and detailed into the "how tos of witchcraft. It isn't just fiction, there is a lot of factual information there; it's just masked by a good story line.
I didn't like Ms. Folstad's mention of the books being only $4.99 and a bargain if it "actually makes kids want to read it." If your children wanted to read Playboy, for example, would you let them? Why not, if it "actually made them want to read." It's really not much different. Inappropriate material is just that ... inappropriate, whether it is pornography or witchcraft.
There are plenty of good books out there to capture and stimulate the child's interest without placing him or her in a jeopardizing, compromising position and making him long for and desire something that perhaps he/she shouldn't be tampering with.
I disagree with Ms. Folstad's statement that buying and donating books to the school or public library will make the particular debate disappear. Why would that help? The only thing that will help is for parents to realize the true meaning and plots of the Potter books, and take a stand against them. Figure out for yourself if you want that type of influence in your child's life. If the answer is "no" then keep the debate alive, and continue to educate children, parents and others about it. Perhaps then Harry Potter and his warlocks will not be the superior race; we "humans" will be the ones with the wisdom and foresight to make the proper choices. And it won't take magic to do it.