Are Harry Potter novels good for children?

Sep 13, 2015 by     No Comments    Posted under: Fiction, Opinions

Over the past decade and a half, the immensely admired Harry Potter novels written by J. K. Rowling have stirred a debate in many families. According to a number of observers, the novels contain harmless and exploratory stories for children. On the flip side, several observers choose to portray them as tales that pull children towards serious magic. Harry Potter novels essentially narrate a series of events that take place in the life of Harry, a young boy-wizard, whose parents were murdered by Lord Voldemort, a powerful evil wizard. Each of the seven novels in the series unfolds a year of Harry’s life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Since the release of the first Harry Potter movie, the novels have garnered massive popularity and people across the world are increasingly becoming fascinated by them. Young readers have demonstrated a sense of enthusiasm that has not been witnessed in terms of novels for a long period of time. According to the biggest booksellers, Harry Potter novel series has been one of the best sellers in history. Taking into consideration this massive fan-following and fame, it is pretty evident that Harry Potter has intensely impacted the society and will continue to have an impact on modern culture.

In this era of media’s dominance, Harry Potter novels are in sharp contrast to internet, television and video games. These novels have lured children away from the trappings of electronic media and other forms of entertainment. A number of critics have hailed Potter novels as a “literary phenomenon” because people of all age groups, from nine-year-olds to young adults and adults, get consumed by the books that are several hundred pages long and still wish to read more. Critics have also noted that Potter novels have become a benchmark and have inspired children to read other novels.

Salman Hameed, the owner of a popular bookstore in Karachi, reveals that children often come to his store and ask for novels that are as good as Harry Potter novels. Tayyaba Omer, a mother of two residing in Lahore, believes that Harry Potter books have encouraged her children to read other books with eventful plots. She adds that her twelve year old daughter has developed a routine of reading only after reading the Harry Potter books. Conversely, Rabia Waqas, a mother of four living in Jhelum, says that she would not advocate that Harry Potter books have solved all the reading problems of the youth because they end up distracting children from their school work.

Children who are too young to read can also gain from having Harry Potter books read out to them. Reading adventurous and fascinating tales out loud results in the sharing of emotions with each other. Such books usually leave children wanting to listen to another story, and so on. Pleasing literary experiences as a child encourage compassion in readers and allow parents to face the need for fantasy and imagination in their children. Therefore, while many parents are content by how Harry Potter novels have motivated their children to read, a number of parents want their children to read Harry Potter novels simply because these novels can help children to appreciate good moral principles.

Through the course of the seven-novel Potter series, the characters grow, learn more about themselves, and consistently present good examples for children. Harry and his friends are young wizards who manage to overcome the adversities in their lives through sheer bravery. In the first novel, they come face-to-face with a number of tests in order to defeat Lord Voldemort. Ron, a loyal friend, puts himself on the line and uses his analytical skills to proceed from a chess obstacle. Hermione, an intelligent student, employs her logical skills to solve several puzzles. Harry, a brave boy, goes on to fight and defeat the enemy. In all of the books, Harry puts himself in dangerous and life-threatening situations for the sake of people he cares for. The books deal with universal subjects such as loyalty, love and courage. Through their adventures, Harry and his friends learn to value friendship, family and good morals. Thus, the characters of Harry Potter books endorse the significance of family and friendship, bravery and determination, self-sufficiency and acceptance for those who are different.

However, detractors of Harry Potter maintain that a number of characters in the books are depicted as immoral. According to Rowling, this was done deliberately to show what evil can do. Rowling believes that she made the correct decision to have evil characters because she could not lie about immorality not existing in the world. Lord Voldemort is a dark wizard who has the power to make other wizards follow him in his wrong-doings. He symbolizes a struggle between right and wrong that facilitates young readers to make ethical choices in their lives. If evil was not portrayed in literature, then children would have no concept of what is sanctified and what is not. In addition, Rowling allowed the characters to go through inner struggles. Such sincere emotions are reflected in good stories as they translate a powerful moral message into the minds of readers.

Many people also have the inclination to underestimate Harry Potter series just because it falls in the children’s category. However, people across the world have been introduced to the phenomenon of Harry Potter and the sheer recognition that the novels and movies have garnered demonstrates that they cannot be disregarded. In fact, the widespread fame of Harry Potter has resulted in many schools adding Potter novels to their curriculum. The novels not only offer interesting stories but also present an eloquent use of English language.

A vast majority of people tend to back Rowling owing to her efforts in developing children’s literature; however, opponents are quick to point out that her novels contain the use of witchcraft and magic, things that children should not be exposed to. According to them, children who become mesmerized by magical spells may eventually enter the real world of occult. Proponents of Rowling argue that this is essentially a weak claim as not all fantasy stories attract children towards doing what their characters do. If Peter Pan does not teach children to run away from their homes and Treasure Island does not urge young readers to become pirates, then Harry Potter does not tempt children to become magicians. Novelists only use fantasy as a “prop” and it is different from tempting children to become magicians in reality. In essence, Potter books only present a lighthearted insight into the world of occult and magic.

It is understandable that a prominent work of literature also attracts a host of critics; however, what one cannot deny is that Harry Potter has redefined children’s literature and modern culture. The use of imagination to write a tale is often incorporated in schools and is a critical aspect of the learning process. It is a fact that fantasy holds a section of a child’s thoughts and Potter novels convey this yearning for strange, otherworldly experiences that our lives do not provide to us. Such desires should not be pushed back but should be met with pleasure because they can lead us to real things. They can be used by parents and teachers as catalysts for conversations about faith, ethics and things in general. The message of the books is inherently positive and Harry possesses all the qualities to become the quintessential role model for children.

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