Harry Potter And The Wizards/Witches Phenomenon (A Children's Literature Analysis)

3998 words - 16 pages

"Magic has a universal appeal. I'd love it to be real." - J.K. RowlingDo popular books that involve witchcraft and/or other forms of "evil" harm children? Or, does utilizing literature that peaks their interest and encourages them to read help the youth of today? With the new Harry Potter craze sweeping the globe, concerned parents, teachers and religious leaders ask the previous questions and ignite great debate. Thoughts, ideas and criticisms have been generated expounding on whether it is acceptable for a wizard to be a children book's hero or heroine. Selling over 130 million copies and printing in 42 languages (Waters, 2002), J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series reaches children of all ages and peaks the interest of many children that otherwise will not read. The series tells the tale of a young boy who, on his eleventh birthday, is told that he is a famous wizard. The novels discuss the trials and tribulations of not only a boy coming of age but also learning about his great new power while fighting of an evil lord (Voldemort, the antagonist) bent on destroying him. This material has created social concerns sparked mainly by devout Christians as to whether or not it should have a place in children's literature. Amid preachers' sermons and book burning demonstrations, concerns brought forth by parents and teachers question the acceptability of using literary materials such as the Harry Potter series to enhance a child's literacy, especially within the classroom.Opponents criticize J.K. Rowling of bringing the occult down on the innocent children of this generation, and some even accuse the author of practicing witchcraft herself (Religious Tolerance, 2003). Very few Evangelical Christian bookstores stock these books. Reverend George Bender of the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Butler County remarks that his church believes that "Harry Potter promotes sorcery, witchcraft-type things, the paranormal, things that are against God. That is really bad," (ABC News, 2001).Pastor Jack Brock of the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, NM believes that the books teach Wicca, a rapidly growing Neopagan religion. He is certain that, "these books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me... Harry Potter books are going to destroy the lives of many young people," (Religious Tolerance, 2003). Many worry that the impact that Harry Potter books are having on popular culture is based on winning the hearts, minds, and allegiance of millions of children while seemingly making light of occult practices.One parent, Stephen Mounce, suggests that the use of these books as a teaching tool in the public school is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of separation of church and state. "The witchcraft, the occult, Satanism, all the dark side that we see in these books - the part about it that disturbs us the most is we believe it's religious. The U.S. Supreme Court has...

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