I grew up loving Harry Potter. Nearly twenty years later, I still do. I own all the books, have seen every movie more than once. I have a favorite character (Remus Lupin), a favorite type of magical creature (Hungarian Horntail- that’s a type of dragon for those who aren’t as big a nerd as I am), a favorite book (Prisoner of Azkaban). I know what house I would be in (Hufflepuff), what kind of animal I would bring (a snowy owl), and what position I would play on the Quidditch team (Chaser). To say that I am a fan of Harry Potter would be an understatement. I LOVE Harry Potter.
When I was thirteen, I put together a notebook filled with all the spells from the books. I knew all their names, how to perform each spell, what they would do. I had a stuffed snowy owl that I kept on my bed. I had a wand that I had won at our local library’s summer reading program. If I hadn’t been trying to appear normal, I probably would have worn Hogwarts school robes to dress down days at school. I was borderline obsessed with Harry Potter.
I didn’t realize that Harry Potter was controversial among Christian families until I was much older. I didn’t know that some families forbade their children from reading Harry Potter because of its use of witchcraft, or that some Christians believed that people who read Harry Potter were going to hell. I didn’t realize that many Christians thought that Harry Potter was a bad influence on children. By the time I learned all that, I had already read every book and was halfway through seeing all the movies. At that point, I was already very deep in the world of Harry Potter.
Even as I began to take my faith more seriously, I never thought that it was in conflict with my love of Harry Potter. I just thought that I was a Christian who really liked Harry Potter. I admired the books for their tales of friendship, love, and sacrifice. I also loved the fact that the world of Harry Potter included dragons, magic, and flying broomsticks. I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t love the Harry Potter series and Jesus Christ (though not in the same way, obviously).
Now that I’m a mother myself, my opinion of Harry Potter has become a bit more nuanced. Now, don’t get me wrong- I still love the books and movies. I actually just finished rereading and re-watching the series for probably the fourth time a few months back. I still hope to one day share my love of all things Harry Potter with my children. I just don’t think they’ll be twelve when they start, like I was. Young minds are easily molded, and despite the wonderful lessons regarding love and sacrifice taught by the Harry Potter series, it also includes lessons that I don’t want my kids to learn- like dabbling in magic. The Harry Potter series is innocent enough, but it can still serve as a gateway to other, darker practices- like real-life witchcraft and occult practices. I might be able to tell the difference as a thirty-year-old, but a twelve year old might not.
I also don’t plan on letting my kids read the books on their own. I plan to experience the world of Harry Potter with them. We will read the books and watch the movies together. And we will talk about them as we do it. We will talk about the beauty of the friendship of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the love of Harry and Ginny, and the sacrifice of Lilly Potter for her son. We will talk about the teen challenges that the characters face- the dangers of peer pressure and the overwhelming need to fit in, the struggle of coping with teenage hormones, the difficulties of dealing with a teacher who just doesn’t like you. And we will also talk about the dangers of real witchcraft and magic, and why there are some things that we are just not meant to dabble in.
Obviously, I don’t think all Harry Potter fans are going to hell. I don’t think the books and movies are evil. But I do think they can be dangerous if we let our kids explore Harry Potter’s world of witchcraft and wizardry alone. They need guidance. And that’s why I plan to let my Christian kids read Harry Potter with me.