Banned Books: Harry Potter by JK Rowling

28th Sep 2010

The Complete Harry Potter Collection by JK Rowling

In addition to their other achievements, the teen wizarding series holds the privileged number one position in the American Library Association’s 2000 – 2009 chart of banned books. The most common cause for complaint, of course, is that the series pushes the occult to children, to the total exclusion of religion.

Of course, Potter isn’t the first book series to ignore faith in favour of a made-up system of magic; I don’t remember The Worst Witch being thus persecuted. But Mildred Hubble never had this ridiculous popularity.

The religious complainers woke up one morning and realised that, yes, kids probably were reading Harry Potter instead of religious texts, rather than as part of a balanced diet. Whether this results in their turning to the devil, though, is probably an issue slightly closer to home.

It’s interesting to me that controversy has tended to settle on religious considerations rather than the increasing level of violence and unsettling content in the later books. The tone of the story, of course, ages as Harry does, and it’s a trick Rowling manages well. But you’d think someone would complain about whether the last couple of volumes are suitable for the eleven-year-olds that the first one is clearly aimed at.

In actual fact, Rowling manages to interweave a strong moral message into the book, a real sense of right and wrong that lets her get away with a certain amount of “mature content”. And if you wanted to point at Christian imagery in the last one, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch. The attempts to ban Harry Potter, in the end, are attracted as much by its level of success as they are by anything actually written in it.

Want to show your support for the teen wizard with the lightning-bolt scar? We’ve got everything from Golden Snitch necklaces to Harry Potter garter sets in this post from earlier this year.

Post by Nick Bryan


  • Jane Bradley says:

    Thanks for the fab post, Nick. I’m baffled by all these objections to Harry Potter (although I don’t mind being a tad on the obsessed side with the magical academy and its students), especially when the books have such strong morals; good and evil are always clearly defined, and clearly advocate loyalty, friendship and family. As for the violence, there’s far gorier to be found in the Bible…