Banned Books of the Decade: Harry Potter

2 Oct

Unless you’ve been ice fishing in Antarctica since 1998, you’ve heard of the most commercially successful and most challenged in libraries series of books ever. J.K. Rowling‘s (b.1965)  wonderful, wildly successful Harry Potter series has made her the world’s first (and so far only) billionaire author. The last four books have set and broken each other’s records for fastest selling books ever. You can find plenty to read about the series (or read it yourself, if you haven’t yet), so I’ll just admit that I got hooked from the start and slammed through the last three books in about a day each.

As is so often the case, with great popularity came great notoriety. The challenges these books have received are so numerous that they are collectively the most challenged of the past decade. Some of the challenges stem from the violence of the books or from the perceived lack of respect Harry and his friends have for authority. By far the bulk of the challenges, however, focus on the books as champions of Satanism, witchcraft, and the occult. My favorite challenges are those maintaining that since Wicca is a religion, government-funded libraries can’t buy Harry Potter books without violating separation of church and state. Really. None of this stopped the books from helping create a renewed enthusiasm for reading in a whole generation of children (and, in many cases, their parents).

On WorldCat, the world’s largest network of library content, a search for “Harry Potter” brings up almost 6,500 items in a vast array of formats and languages. (A search for Hamlet by Shakespeare brings up about 4,500. To be fair, there aren’t seven books in the Hamlet series.) If you haven’t tried Harry Potter yet, give it a whirl. I think you’ll be pleased. If you have, go re-read your favorite passage today.

And, if you like the film adaptations, here’s a trailer for the upcoming Deathly Hallows, part 1.

2 Responses to “Banned Books of the Decade: Harry Potter”

  1. Jennifer October 2, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    Clearly Harry Potter causes children to take up witch craft and align with the devil. I believe that’s what Christine O’Donnell said made her interested in witch craft and the premarital sex in college.

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