Reflection Paper #1
Harry Potter: To Ban or not to Ban
Individuals and groups have censored books for as long as people have been
writing them. For the last several years, the largest target for censorship efforts involve
the Harry Potter series, a fantasy series centered around a young boy who discovers that
he is a wizard. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been under fire by both parents
and conservative Christians ever since the books were first published. But what’s the
problem? What is so controversial about the magical, fanciful world of Hogwarts, its
students and the muggle world?
According to Marylaine Block, the author of the article, Afraid of Harry Potter,
parents seem to use the usual reasons like “bad words” or “sexual content” for not
allowing their children to read these books. However, Block suggests that the real
reasons these books are so controversial deals more with the underlying meanings of the
stories. For example, with Harry Potter, it’s not so much the use of magic that bothers
the parents, but the threat that, “…the books show so clearly how many adults are
clueless, humorless muggles,” (Block, 9). There have also been some conservative
Christians who have even used scripture to defend why they don’t want their children
reading the Harry Potter books, (Norton, 286). Deuteronomy 18:9-12 talks about
abstaining from practicing things like divination and sorcery the way the other nations of
that time did. Many of these conservative groups of Christians have even gone so far as
to burn these books along with other controversial books for children.
It simply amazes me that there are still people who believe that burning books
keeps people away from actually reading the books. The truth is that many times when
something is forbidden, it becomes more desirable. The article, In Defense of Book
Burning, written by Will Manley claims that the end result of book burnings is that the
book being burned reaches even greater popularity because it is supposedly forbidden.
The children that are supposedly banned from the book, in turn, will find a way to have
access to the book even more so than before. Likewise, it seems as though the people
using the Deuteronomy scripture believe that one is going to automatically partake of
witchcraft and become a sorcerer simply because he/she read a Harry Potter book.
As a Christian parent, I do not agree with radical ideas like book burnings in order
to protect my daughter from so-called evil ideas. The evil ideas do in fact exist in our
world and the idea that these ideas can be completely burned away from existence is
ludicrous. My job as a Christian parent is to not prevent total access to these ideas,
because it won’t happen, but instead to teach my daughter what is right and what is
I grew up going to church and my parents did a good job teaching me the
difference. Now as an adult when I read books like Harry Potter, I am able to discern
reality from fiction. Even though I thoroughly enjoy these stories and will encourage and
hope my daughter will read them one day, I know that I will never partake of wizardry
myself. If I teach my daughter the same values, then she will rightfully discern good
from evil. We won’t be able to keep all bad and evil things away from our children; it’s
crazy to imagine that we could. However, we can guide them in their thinking and
reasoning which will hopefully lead them to make wise decisions when we’re not present.
Block, M. (2001). Afraid of Harry Potter. Library Talk, 14(2), 9-10. Retrieved June 15,
2010, from Academic Search Complete.
Manley, W. (2002). In defense of book burning. American Libraries, 33(3), 196.
Retrieved June 15, 2010, from Academic Search Complete.
Norton, D. (2007). Through the Eyes of a Child. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice