Webster’s defines literature as fiction, poetry etc. of lasting value. Only the readers can tell you if the Harry Potter series has been of lasting value to them. But using Webster’s definition of literature, it is definitely “real” literature to my family.
Poor Harry has been beset by critics from day one. First there are the Christians who denounce the Harry Potter books as evil because they involve witches and wizards. Never mind that these same Christians encourage their children to read Lord of the Rings which has wizards, elves, dwarfs, and hobbits or The Chronicles of Narnia which involves witches and giants. They were written by Christian writers, which apparently makes them acceptable to read. (Today after actually reading the books some Christians are supporting Harry).
Then there are the literary snobs who claim that Harry Potter isn’t real literature and therefore children (and their parents) shouldn’t waste their time reading him. (I am not ashamed to admit at almost 40, I love Harry as much as my kids do, and how refreshing it is have a book the whole family can enjoy). Most kids enjoy books where they can identify with the characters. The first book came out when my youngest son was six and my oldest was 8. How magical for them to have a book to read about a boy who was only a little older then they were. And the first Potter book was short enough that they were not intimidated by it. Then as they grew up Harry grew up too and the books got longer and more complex. In The Order of the Phoenix, Harry is a typical pre-teen, and now in Harry and the Half-Blood Prince, he is well on his way to becoming a charming young man. Quite Frankly I can’t wait for the next Harry Potter book to come out.
Of course my children’s reading didn’t stop with Harry, they have since gone on to read Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other classics. But Harry earns my thanks for getting them started on the wonderful adventure of reading.
Originally posted July 2005