Should Christian Kids Read Harry Potter?

By Rod Hemphill

With all the hype on the "News," you're probably aware that the last of the Harry Potter series will go on sale tonight. Moreover, since this is to be the last in the series, does the hero, Harry, get killed or does he live? Speculations abound.

But Christians have also been debating another matter -- Should children be reading books that feature, even glorify, witches and wizards, elements of the occult? Here is as fair and balanced an argument as I've seen.

Potter Mania by Chuck Colson on BreakPoint.org

A response from one of Rod's readers is below:

I think it depends on the maturity level of the child. If the child is one prone to live in a fantasy world then the books are not going to be good - but this is true of many different books spanning many genres. Harry Potter is not special in this way.

If the maturity level of the child is fairly well grounded then these books can benefit in wonderful ways. They certainly encourage reading which is very important to academic success, and they tend to have very good "good vs. evil" themes.

Admittedly the books do show Harry not going to his teachers with his problems, but rather trying to fix them himself. Many kid books do this though... otherwise the story may be very short. But if you read this with your kids then it opens a wonderful line of conversation about talking to parents and coming to them with things that trouble you. And isn't that the real issue here? Shouldn't parents pay more attention to what their child is reading, watching, or surfing? It's easy to toss the kid a book, or hand over the computer and not know anything about what they are doing. That doesn't seem to build a parental foundation though. A librarian could do as much.

I also take umbrage with one thing the article's writer said. Replacing Harry Potter with Tolkien is not a good solution. I love Tolkien's work, but unless you are looking for the Christian metaphors then you may miss them. If you miss them you are left with fantasy warfare, magic, and necromancy.

If you want to have your child get something specific from a work, read it with them.

 - Jonathan

Other articles by Rod:
How and Why We Can Afford to Give Disbelievers Their "Best Shot"
The Tomb of Jesus. . . and Mary, and Son Joseph?
On Understanding the Trinity

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