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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Accio Adventure!

There are few things in life I enjoyed more in my childhood than reading Harry Potter. I know, I know- everyone and their brother who happened to grow up in the 1990s/2000s would consider themselves fans of the franchise. But unlike many of the fans who dressed up as obscure book characters for the midnight releases of the novels and movies (which I never did, by the way), I find myself drawn to the story for more reasons than just an entertaining plot line and intriguing characters. Reading these books, I was both captivated by an adventure and challenged by the truths that the story presented. Many of my peers were forbidden to read the series, as it contained "witchcraft", but I honestly believe they missed out and I plan on rectifying the situation by requiring my future children to add it to their reading lists. Here's why.

1. Let's start with the fact that the story is adventurous and imaginative. I mean, really, who can come up with such an original, detailed world that you can't wait to delve into? J.K. Rowling, that's who. And while, yes, sometimes the writing itself leaves a little something to be desired in the way of sophistication, her created universe is colorful and textured. And let's be real, she can actually write when compared to many contemporary authors (cough*Stephanie Meyer*cough).

2. To me, Harry Potter embodies more than just a childhood fancy. At its core, the tale is about good triumphing over evil, how the choices we make are more important than the life we are born into, that we all have value and should treat each other like it, that standing up for what's right isn't always easy and demands selflessness. There are few books (classic, modern, or otherwise) that challenge me as strongly to put others before self. I know that these aren't "Christian" books, but you know what? I see a lot of examples of how I'm called to treat others and view this world in the pages of those books. I'd much rather my children get something out of those books than LOTS of others I see out there.

3. I am not a feminist, by any means, but I think that the books are empowering to women. Laugh if you want, but if you spend 95% of your childhood reading (like I did), you start to pick up on portrayals of characters to whom you can relate. One of the first times I felt okay about being unpopular, nerdy, and smart was when I read about Hermione. She went on adventures, she outsmarted everyone around her, and she was not pretty- flawed and better for it, just like me. And even when relationships between the characters began to develop and inevitably fall apart, Rowling never let Hermione crumble out of the picture. With or without a man by her side, she still remains loyal to her friends, fights for what is right, and is truly beautiful because she has character. That's the kind of lesson I want my daughters to learn.

4. As a Christian, I think it's very good to stay away from witchcraft. But for the record,the "spells" in the books are just Latin phrases. Seriously, once I started paying attention to some of phrases in the book, my grasp on Latin vocabulary increased exponentially. And now I have a B.A. in Latin. True story.

And that is why my kids will be reading Happy Potter.

"Of course this is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"