Harry Potter Is Not Bad For Kids

How the Harry Potter stories have a bigger message for children than the typical popular children's stories such as those by Disney.

Jacket art of the Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

Jacket art of the Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

There has been some controversy about Harry Potter and its suitability for kids. Critics have claimed that due to the Harry Potter stories’ heavy emphasis on wizardry and magic, kids can be negatively affected by being made to believe that real life isn't what it really is. That is, kids can lose touch with reality. In fact, Harry Potter is not anymore fictional than the most common children's stories. Take for example a typical Disney Movie like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White is far-fetched like Harry Potter, but as we'll see Harry Potter has valuable lessons for children, while Snow White just may be promoting unrealistic hopes for young girls.

In Snow White, there is a mirror that talks to a queen, reminding her everyday that she is the most beautiful women around. At the end, a poisoned Snow White is brought out of a deep sleep by the kiss of a handsome Prince.

How about Cinderella? Here we have a poor girl tortured by her step sisters. But, with the help of a fairy godmother, she is able to attend a fantastic ball. This is made possible by turning a pumpkin and mice into a horse-drawn stagecoach. As is typical in these kinds of stories, Cinderella ends up meeting a prince who falls in love with her.

Harry Potter, too, is filled with the products of a vivid imagination. There is a magic train that takes its passengers to a school of wizardry. Students learn to ride on flying brooms, use magic wands, make potions and fight dragons.

It's obvious that it doesn't take much effort to find stories full of magic that are already warmly accepted by the mass public. Disney movies are perhaps the best example. So why does Harry Potter get so much criticism as being bad for children?

I would contend to those critics that Disney-like movies do our children more damage than the Harry Potter stories could ever do. In all the Harry Potter stories, the young wizard must face a seemingly insurmountable problem. Indeed, at the beginning of the stories Harry Potter doesn't have what it takes to handle his problem. But through a process of growth through dealing with struggles and overcoming difficulties, Harry Potter is able to solve his problem and is a better person for it. Harry Potter actually grows spiritually and gains wisdom in his stories.

The results of Disney movies are quite different. The protagonists don't attain spiritual growth by facing and overcoming difficulties. Rather, their sad situations are resolved with the help of outside forces. No effort is needed because the fairy godmother or the handsome prince will save the day. All the main character needs to do in a Disney movie is sit back and wait to be saved.

So which stories are more damaging to our children? Is it the stories that teach them to sit back and wait for something outside of them to solve their problems? Or, is it the ones that teach our children to meet challenges and overcome difficulties?

The answer is clear. The Harry Potter stories are not bad for our children. Rather, they just might be one of the few positive influences among the numerous bad ones that bombard our children everyday.

Mark Newman is a Harry Potter fanatic and writes for www.and-the-deathly-hallows.com.

Copyright © 2007 Mark Newman


Are you high? So your whole premise that HP is good just because other stuff is worse is about the dumbest things I have ever read.

Yes, yes, sorcery, witchcraft, and the occult are wonderful for kids just as long as you sprinkle in some story about overcoming odds.

Pathetic. Not only are you wrong, but your premise is absurd.

FINALLY, someone understands how good Harry Potter is!