Wait, Harry Potter is a Banned Book?

February 18, 2020

Yes, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a banned book series. Before we get there, let’s talk about banned books and what exactly they are. 

According to Wikipedia, banned books are “prohibited by [the] law or to which free access is not permitted by other means.” The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, from political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives. Certain parts of the country ban books that have themes related to that revolve around violence, racism, sex, alternate lifestyles, witchcraft, profanity, and unpopular political views. 

Many people of power believe specific books should be banned because it can damage the youth’s minds. Books have the ability to alter the perspective of the known society people live in and make people more curious and willing to bend the rules. Government officials have no interest in this; banning books acts as a way to block counter-messages to what the government or a group desires. Author Ellen Hopkins said “Censorship comes from a place of fear. [They] fear that which is different, what [they] cannot comprehend.” Officials are fearful of ideas that can spring up from these books, thus resulting in the banning of books. 

However, books should not be banned because it allows people to expand their minds about concerning issues, but in a new, potentially positive light. Authors like George Orwell and Ray Bradbury and multiple others have expanded on topics that should be known but in a more dystopian manner. 

What books are characterized as ‘banned books?’ Some books include: 

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson 
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair  (these are all according to libguides)
  • Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a long list of banned books, but these books are known among the general population and are read by thousands. These books all contain sexual interactions, racism, violence, alternate lifestyles, witchcraft and several topics considered uncomfortable or unsavory to a group of the population. Some people read the book and just move on to the next one. However, some people move forth on these books and submit them under the category of ‘banned books,’ because of their content. 

After all of this, why do schools still read banned books? I have been part of the Waukee School District for the past two years and we have read multiple books that can be found on this shortlist of banned books. They are even listed in the school’s curriculum as something that must be read. Students are more than likely fine with reading books with crude humor and other things like that. Parents, on the other hand, might have an issue with this. Out of all the places to read banned books, why school districts? 

School Districts read banned books as part of the curriculum because of the topics discussed in books considered ‘banned’ need to be addressed. Some subjects laced in these stories are subjects parental figures do not feel comfortable addressing. The Hechinger Report had an anonymous parent that wrote: “too few parents and teachers are talking about race, gender and other [life-changing] traits with children often enough, which means they are missing out on critical opportunities to teach children to become tolerant of differences from an early age.” This parent is absolutely correct. Race, gender and many other traits are not being addressed in children’s up and coming years, thus them not understanding things that revolve around topics like this in the future. Reading banned books will expose these topics to children at an early enough age to where it will help them in the future. 

Banned books deserved to be read among the population. This includes all ages of the population. Banned books will truly alter your life in a significant way and should not be banned. It is up to you if you want to suffer the consequences of not reading banned books or if you want to open your mind and have it flourish with ideas. The choice is yours.

 

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