To Melanie’s two part “Share My World” — How do I feel about Harry Potter?

I’m grinding slowly towards the conclusion of our refinance. As of this morning, we have cleared all the hurdles. They needed this month’s mortgage payment information, a copy of the last bank statement (I sent the wrong statement, oops). Meanwhile, I’ve got some big bills lurking in the near future so this needs to be finished.

I think it’ll be another week to 10-days before it’s completed. Worrying about money is the pits. I can’t quite let it go, though I try. It sits in the back of my brain and gnaws at me. To top it off, I have a toothache and I may need to cancel something else and get this seen to because it really hurts.

About Harry Potter.

I wasn’t a wild-eyed fan of the Harry Potter books. I liked some of them — especially anything about Quidditch because I always wanted to fly — but I didn’t like the relationships and I downright disliked a lot of the people. The books were cleverly written. I appreciate wit. The movies were more fun because they left out annoying details.

There will always be bullies and victims and Harry certainly had his share of being victimized. But I didn’t care for all the sneaking around in the Potter books, eavesdropping, and rumors perpetrated by the so-called “good” guys. Maybe there’s a teaching moment in there, but I didn’t see it. All I saw is that when confronted by bullies, victims can then use any means to get back at them.

I had never given any serious thought to the books. They were light entertainment. The problem is, these questions forced me to actually think about the series. I know it was supposed to be good fun, but when you have to think about the books, there’s a lot of nastiness and meanness. It didn’t bother me because I read them at super high speed and forgot them pretty much immediately The teachers were more interesting than the kids. I still want to know Dumbledore’s motives. Other teachers were downright kinky.

Harry Potter audiobooks

The Potter books don’t hold up well compared to many other good children’s sagas. I doubt I’ll read them again. Other series, like the Narnia books, “Little Women,” “The Black Stallion” series and other books about young people learning how to become adults have much stronger messages. The Hobbit has a more stalwart sense of honor and ethics. The “Little House” books are wonderful a hundred years after publication. To give children a sense of ethics and morals, the author needs to have to have a grip on them too. To convey meaning to kids, the writer has to be invested. In none of the Potter books did I get anything more than a sense of fun. But I liked Quidditch.

I’ve read the Narnia series half a dozen times and once during the past 6 months. I think they are better now than they were when I first read them. I’ve read “Little Women” so many times I can recite it. I reread “The Black Stallion” a couple of months ago. Even “Pollyanna” had a sincere message. But the Potter books don’t. To be fair, I’m not a fan of “youth fiction.” There’s a lot of it being published and most of it isn’t worth the time. It’s no different than reading comics and some of them had more principled characters. I always believed in Superman, The Lone Ranger, and Hopalong Cassidy. Those were GOOD guys.

Are the Harry Potter books fun? Yes. If your goal is to find something that your child will read, these books might accomplish that. Anything that gets kids to read books is by definition a good thing. Just don’t tell me really think about them!

Categories: #Photography, Anecdote, Audiobook, Author, Books, Literature

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7 replies

  1. I’m fully on board with the QUALITY of the Potter books (and films if I’m honest). The classics you listed, are some of my favorites too, which I have re-read as an adult and liked more because I could see how they taught me important things. Narnia remains somewhere I would LOVE to visit and to possibly emigrate to.

    I’ve read three modern “young adult fiction” series. Twilight (oh I don’t believe I wasted the time!! 😡 ; the first three (or four) of the Mockingjay series (another time waster), and obviously Harry Potter. I will say that none of the three had the QUALITY of the ones you listed, certainly not on the level of C.S. Lewis nor Tolkien. Forget about comparisons to Louisa May Alcott or Frances Hodgson Burnett or Laura Ingalls. I prefer Dickens, Robert Lewis Stevenson and the ‘old time’ classic writers actually.

    No substance to this new stuff. I read it to pass the time solely, and based on my experiences with the three YA series, I won’t bother to read any others that are written. Maybe society is losing something important as it evolves into whatever it is now. Whatever it might become, if enough survive this current plague. We seem to have lost the ability to ‘tell stories’ to each other or pass on oral histories and morals that are necessary to being the best we can.

    I hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers on your part with my response to your SYW answers yesterday. We all get stressed out and it seemed a good idea to include something light hearted (if one doesn’t look too closely) like the Potter questions. I agree with you by the way. There was a lot of back biting, gossiping, bullying and so forth. And my junior high and high school days are far in my rear view, but isn’t that how it IS in those kind of schools? It was at the ones I attended as I recall.


    • I try to remember that anything that convinces a child to read is good, but sometimes, the lack of quality is really distressing. I actually read the first Twilight book or maybe half of it. I think one day I put it down and never picked it back up. But oh the joys of Treasure Island and reading the Narnia books with Owen when he was a kid — or teaching Kaitie to read with Laura Ingalls. I think we read a full dozen of them until one day, she said: “Gramma, give me the book,” and she started to read to me. You have NO idea what a great moment that was!


  2. My youngest daughter did not enjoy reading when she was young. Consequently she didn’t read much until she discovered the Goosebump books. She devoured them and then began reading Steven King. I’ll never forget the fourth grade parent/teacher conference when her teacher, aghast, asked us, “Do you know what she’s reading?”
    “Yes,” my sweetheart and I replied in unison, ” but at least she’s reading! ”
    She’s in her late thirties now. Still reading.

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  3. And to find something both a second-grader and you want to read is a real miracle. My niece actually had read as many as had come out when she was in the second grade! I think she eventually read them all at least twice. I liked them but never got beyond the fourth one.

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