Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week: The 'Harry Potter' Series

Banned Books Week: The 'Harry Potter' Series

Steven Bryan 

The "Harry Potter" series, first published in 1998, is featured by the American Library Association for Banned Books Week, which runs this year from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Since infancy, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard, has been facing attacks from Lord Voldemort, a wizard so evil that few characters dare speak his name. In addition to death threats from Voldemort and his followers, young Mr. Potter also has come under fire from concerned parents, educators and religious leaders.

According to the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which has been tracking challenges to objectionable books since 1990, the entire Harry Potter series ranks No. 1 on the "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009." The OIF defines a challenge as a formal, written complaint about a book or series that contains "objectionable material."

Rowling wrote much of the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," while sitting in Edinburgh's Elephant House coffee shop. On his 11th birthday, Harry, a good-hearted boy raised by horrible relatives, learns that his late parents actually were a well-respected witch and wizard. Harry's mom even sacrificed her life to save her son from Lord Voldemort.

Now aware of his true heritage, Harry travels to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to control his magical abilities and train for his future career.

In reality, magic is only one part of the "Harry Potter" series. Rowling's books focus more on embracing good over evil, doing the right thing and being brave in bad situations. The books deal with a lot of teenage angst and school crushes.

Yet, magic is frequently the reason that the Harry Potter series is challenged and banned. On the Infoplease website, head teacher Carol Rockwood of St. Mary's Island Church of England School gave the reasons why the school banned the book.

"The Bible is very clear and consistent in its teachings that wizards, devils and demons exist and are very real, powerful and dangerous and God's people are told to have nothing to do with them," Rockwood said.

In 2006, the Associated Press reported that Laura Mallory, a mother of four in Georgia, wanted the Gwinnett County Board of Education to ban the books, saying that the series is "an 'evil' attempt to indoctrinate children into the Wicca religion." The school board later rejected Mallory's challenge, and Harry and his friends were allowed to stay on book shelves throughout the school district.

Despite the furor over the books, the Harry Potter series is still extraordinarily popular. As CBS News reported in the summer of 2007, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the book that Rowling called the finale of the series, sold 8.3 million copies in the United States during the first 24 hours it was available for sale.

Original Article

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