I’m writing this because I was reminded of a sad situation related to the Harry Potter novels and a very nice, well-meaning friend of our family. She absolutely forbade her two young daughters to read the Harry Potter novels, and strictly kept them away from the movies and anything related to the books.
Her reason and reasoning for this? She is a deeply religious person who strongly believes the books and everything related to them are “of the devil” and “sorcery” — hence, she fears the books are a spiritual threat to her daughters.
Which brings me to the point of this post: As adults, we are supposed to be able to distinguish between facts or “nonfiction” and fiction. These books and the movies made from them and all the other merchandising is all based on FICTION. Fiction is really nothing more than telling lies for fun and (hopefully) profit, to steal a phrase from a very successful novelist acquaintance of mine (Larry Block).
Does fiction move us? Hopefully, if it’s good fiction, it will. Does fiction inspire us, shock us, and cause us to experience a bundle of other emotions? Hopefully, if it’s good fiction.
Should fiction become an avenue of religious truth? Much good fiction certainly has imparted spiritual truths.
But do we need to fear some sort of unseen forces lurking behind the fiction to capture/captivate our children and put them at eternal risk, as this mother feared? I have problems with that on many levels. I think it starts to cross the line between reality and fantasy which adults ought to be able to see.
I would no more forbid Harry Potter books and films to children than I would forbid Grimm’s fairy tales, or Tolkein’s works. Instead, I would use the occasion to teach the kids. These were not four and five year old children in our friend’s case — they were 10-12 years old.
Don’t ban novels. They’re fiction. Don’t forbid your children to read them — provided they are suitably “age level” appropriate — instead, use the books to teach the children. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to adults to understand and teach their kids what they feel the must. But at least think about it.
[tags]banning novels, fact and fiction, fantasy novels, teaching through novels, teaching through fiction, writing and life, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]