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Banning Harry

Wheelock College Library: Banning Harry

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Banning Harry

My favorite banned book? Harry Potter.

One of the things I cherish most about these books is their core value of love. Again and again, love is the most important, useful, valued characteristic or principle, the “trick” of Harry’s that is the source of his survival and triumph over darkness. Dumbledore is explicit about this at the end of the fifth book when he says:

“There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,” interrupted Dumbledore, “that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you. (p. 843)

This most basic of ideals, widely if not universally held as Good, is refreshingly, explicitly, convincingly, and consistently expressed in all seven books of the series. That these books are frequently challenged because they are believed to promote evil makes them to me the perfect example of the perils of censorship.

(For a discussion of challenges to the first few HP books see:

Foerstel, H. N. (2002). Banned in the U.S.A. : A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. Westport, CT: Greenwood.)

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