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Is Harry Potter "twaddle"?


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Forgive me if this subject has already been beaten into the ground...I did search the forum, but didn't really find an answer. We used to be anti-Potter, but the more we think about it, the less sense that stance makes to us. I know the books are huge and it would be a big step for ds9 to go from Hardy Boys to Harry Potter, but I am trying to steer him towards more quality literature now that he has established a love of reading.

 

I have seen one movie, but haven't ever looked at the books. What says the hive?:bigear:

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I can't really help, cuz we're still in the anti-Potter camp, and don't consider those quality literature.

 

But one of dd's friends has read through all the books and loved them. Now she says she wants to find other witchcraft type books.......which is one reason we DON'T want out kids to read those books or watch the movies!

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Not entirely, no. It is entertaining. It is a great story with lots of good lessons, IMO. High quality literature, not really. But not twaddle either. Good fun reading for sure. I love them as do my kids. Both have read them. Older one, multiple times through the series. Younger is working his way through book 7 now.

 

It is okay to read stuff that is not always on the classics literature list too. Mine don't read pure garbage, imo again. But they do read a mixture of classics and better written fun stories too.

 

I hope you all enjoy them. We certainly have.

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Not twaddle. Not when you read the entire set and see how much thought went into details provided in the first books that crops up again in the later books. Not when you look at the overall theme of all seven books.

 

Last week I reread Pride and Prejudice for the third time. I also reread the seventh H.P. book for the sixth time. Ok, Rowling is certainly not Jane Austin (and Snape is not Mr. Darcy! ;)) but the enjoyment of reading a well-thought out book is the same.

 

Hope I make sense.

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I vote no, they are not twaddle. There are many opportunities to tie Harry Potter to other great books. Hey, we even talked about the spells in relation to Greek and Latin roots during our vocabulary lesson today.

 

Oh yes, that is certainly true! There is a lot of the Greek and Latin roots thrown in, both with the names and just words. Very cool when mine recognize that connection.

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Great books, no...IMO, they definitely aren't. Twaddle? I think they are a level above that, but they definitely don't qualify as great books. I think they make an entertaining read personally, but they aren't going to be read by my kiddos because I have concerns about the subject material.

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I can't really help, cuz we're still in the anti-Potter camp, and don't consider those quality literature.

 

But one of dd's friends has read through all the books and loved them. Now she says she wants to find other witchcraft type books.......which is one reason we DON'T want out kids to read those books or watch the movies!

 

But what about Narnia or Lord of the Rings? Would you/do you steer away from those for the same reason? Do you see a difference between those and Potter? My kids all love Narnia and LOTR and it has not sparked any such interest.

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I would say not twaddle (which to me is things like the TV or movie tie in books) but not great literature. I think they are fun and really enjoyed them all myself. I would look at them akin to good popular literature for adults (not a great classic but worth reading just the same).

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I love these books. They are well written, don't speak down to the audience, and are just such a fun time to read. I haven't known a child to get caught up in the magic or witchcraft of the book. It is more the great descriptions, funny characters and situations, and of course the fantastical creatures. Also, most kids I know are just so proud they read a book so big, often times so quickly. Harry Potter is a classic of our time and I hope you will allow your kids to enjoy.

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Well, as someone who used to be dead set against all things HP, I can tell you why I am now reading my way through the series (trying to finish at least Book 6 by the time that movie comes out in November).

 

My dd is in pony club, and all of the girls at the farm (all Christians, just for reference) told her how wonderful the books and movies were. She wanted to watch the movies, so I agreed to watch the first one with her while we were all together. It is your typical good vs. evil. We are big fans of LOTR, and we find the biblical parallels obvious in those books and movies. The same good vs. evil is in both series, even though J.K. Rowling isn't coming from the same perspective or worldview as Tolkien. But where does good vs. evil ultimately come from anyway?

 

The books are so very well written. I wouldn't put them in the same class as Homer by any means (or even Austen for that matter), but they are FUN. My dd was a struggling reader and she read the entire series over and over again. It sparked a love of reading in her, which is a good thing. Now that I am reading the books and watching the movies, we have lots of good discussions about the stories and different elements in them.

 

My best advice to you would be to get the first book and read it yourself. Rowling is a good writer with an incredible ability to think like and relate to kids. I can feel myself fly as Harry takes to his broom for the first time :D

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Not twaddle. Not when you read the entire set and see how much thought went into details provided in the first books that crops up again in the later books. Not when you look at the overall theme of all seven books.

 

Last week I reread Pride and Prejudice for the third time. I also reread the seventh H.P. book for the sixth time. Ok, Rowling is certainly not Jane Austin (and Snape is not Mr. Darcy! ;)) but the enjoyment of reading a well-thought out book is the same.

 

Hope I make sense.

 

I think you make a good point. If one were to define twaddle, wouldn't that definition involve a weak and or predictable plot - something that doesn't challange the mind?

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But what about Narnia or Lord of the Rings? Would you/do you steer away from those for the same reason? Do you see a difference between those and Potter? My kids all love Narnia and LOTR and it has not sparked any such interest.

 

Exactly! I know a number of people who think HP is evil yet they love LOTR. I don't get that. I've never been a big sci/fi fantasy gal, but living with my dh and oldest dd (both sci/fi fantasy fan, has allowed me to gain some appreciation. Neither of them has tried to turn me into a toad yet, well, at least that I know of. :001_huh:

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But what about Narnia or Lord of the Rings? Would you/do you steer away from those for the same reason? Do you see a difference between those and Potter? My kids all love Narnia and LOTR and it has not sparked any such interest.
We actually haven't read those either....

 

It doesn't HAVE to spark the interest, and I hear it doesn't in some. But, in my kids friends, every single one of them are now very interested in witchcraft and spells and things I just don't feel we need to get into. I don't begrudge anyone else's choice in those matters either, each person does what they feel is right for them. But with so much OTHER literature available, we feel they're not missing out by not reading these books.

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First, w/ regard to the quality of HP as lit: it qualifies. The plot is complex, the characters & their struggles are well-developed. There's foreshadowing & symbolism. I'm a VERY picky reader, & I consider these books to be excellent--EXCELLENT--overall. (Dh wouldn't let me read the 1st 2, bcs he said they were similar enough to the movie & written at a lower reading level that would drive me nuts. He's so keen on finding things I like, he wouldn't let those 2 ruin the series or my willingness to try something new, lol.)

 

I believe that HP could easily stand among other classics for kids, incl A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia (though not nec at the same level as Narnia), & others. Is it at the TOP of the list? Nope. Not at the bottom, either, though. IMO.

 

As far as the witchcraft element, I do see the diff between this & Narnia--the witches in this book are *good.* In N, they're bad. That said, though, I think the *theme* of HP redeems this element. The witchcraft is a setting, a plot device, not a main point. The THEME of the books, like others have said is good vs evil, & this is captured in a way that is truly insightful & rare.

 

Now, the evil in the book is truly evil. My dc will have to wait until they're much older to read these, & I would suggest that anyone considering intro'ing them to dc preread. But I wouldn't say it's any darker than LOTR, for ex.--we're just pretty conservative on things like that.

 

GL w/ your decision. From a Christian stance, I can see the difficulty. From a lit stance, rest assured. These are GOOD books.

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I think you might change your mind by the time you finish the last book.

 

Funny you say that; my 13 yo just said the same thing :D So I stand (sit) corrected. Reserving judgment on this until I finish reading the series, which I should've done from the beginning. My apologies to J.K. Rowling, et al.

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My opinion as a Christian is that they are good books. They are not simplistic at all. As for the issue of witchcraft etc, we have taught our children from a young age that magic is an illusion. Maybe we have ruined the fun of magic shows etc, but we have taught that the only TRUE magic and miracles are from God (how about Elijah calling fire down from heaven!) Even when my kids ask how I did something and I say that it was magic, my 6 yr old reminds me, "silly mommy, there is no such thing as magic. You know it is just pretend!" So, I have no concern that my children will find a need to pursue witchcraft etc, having been taught the difference between fantasy and reality.

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I can't really help, cuz we're still in the anti-Potter camp, and don't consider those quality literature.

 

But one of dd's friends has read through all the books and loved them. Now she says she wants to find other witchcraft type books.......which is one reason we DON'T want out kids to read those books or watch the movies!

 

:iagree:

I really couldn't have said it better.

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My opinion as a Christian is that they are good books. They are not simplistic at all. As for the issue of witchcraft etc, we have taught our children from a young age that magic is an illusion. Maybe we have ruined the fun of magic shows etc, but we have taught that the only TRUE magic and miracles are from God (how about Elijah calling fire down from heaven!) Even when my kids ask how I did something and I say that it was magic, my 6 yr old reminds me, "silly mommy, there is no such thing as magic. You know it is just pretend!" So, I have no concern that my children will find a need to pursue witchcraft etc, having been taught the difference between fantasy and reality.
My kids know the difference as well, dh and I just don't feel we need to read those, that's all. We've read some other good books though, so we're getting our reading in!:001_smile:
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Here's a recent article by Martin Cothran of Memoria Press about the Harry Potter books.

 

Jami

 

http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/08/potter.html

 

I find L'Engle's comment puzzling, considering the theme of the books. "Nothing beneath them"? I guess I assumed she was Christian. ?? (Perhaps not... I shall google.)

 

ETA: Ok, I see she was an Episcopalian Universalist. So I remain puzzled.

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Another vote for neither great literature nor twaddle.

 

The writing is not great writing. Sometimes it is awkward, a little clunky, very action-driven. Rowling's writing does improve from the first book to the last.

 

BUT Rowling is a gifted storyteller. The series is creative, well-planned, thoughtful, complex, intelligent. She tells her story with a great deal of respect for the reader's intellect. She doesn't spell out every last detail, doesn't wrap everything up in a neat little package, making the reader a partner in the storytelling. And HP is fun to read. The combination of intelligence and a great story makes the series well worth reading.

 

Cat

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Not twaddle. Not when you read the entire set and see how much thought went into details provided in the first books that crops up again in the later books. Not when you look at the overall theme of all seven books.

 

I agree with this -- we are amazed when we look at the details that were scattered throughout the first books that made a difference in the later ones.

 

We are firmly in the "not twaddle" camp over here. We all love the books. We even dressed in Potter theme last Halloween, from Dumbledore (my hubby) and Prof McGonigal (me) all the way down to our littlest Hogwarts student (Neville Babybottom :001_smile:). Is Harry Potter great literature? Maybe not. Is it fun reading? We think so? Does it facilitate the discussion of good vs. evil and other deep questions? It can. Did it get my kids reading even more? Yup. :) Oh, and the latin / spell connection is way cool, too. :D

 

To each his own, but we think it is some pretty good 'mischief managed' over here. :D

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I think it's more important for you to decide what you consider twaddle than it is for me to tell you my definition. What is good quality literature in your opinion? Compare a title you feel is quality to Harry Potter and decide for yourself (and him) whether H.P. would be a good choice for him. There are plenty of wonderful books available that are just as exciting as Harry Potter in case you decide not to encourage him to read them.

 

I have certain books I want my children to read and some I have resigned that if they WANT to read them, I'll be okay with it. I'm reserving all my protests for the books I absolutely, do not, under any circumstances, want them to read.

 

:) Good luck!

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I believe that HP could easily stand among other classics for kids, incl A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia (though not nec at the same level as Narnia), & others. Is it at the TOP of the list? Nope. Not at the bottom, either, though. IMO.

 

As far as the witchcraft element, I do see the diff between this & Narnia--the witches in this book are *good.* In N, they're bad. That said, though, I think the *theme* of HP redeems this element. The witchcraft is a setting, a plot device, not a main point. The THEME of the books, like others have said is good vs evil, & this is captured in a way that is truly insightful & rare.

 

 

Very well said, and :iagree:.

 

:001_smile:

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That's such a subjective question. The definition of "Twaddle" varies so much from person to person, or family to family. Some people think Harry Potter is junk, others consider it quality children's literature.

 

My suggestion would be to read a Harry Potter book for yourself, and decide whether or not it would be acceptable for your family.

 

Erica

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Forgive me if this subject has already been beaten into the ground...I did search the forum, but didn't really find an answer. We used to be anti-Potter, but the more we think about it, the less sense that stance makes to us. I know the books are huge and it would be a big step for ds9 to go from Hardy Boys to Harry Potter, but I am trying to steer him towards more quality literature now that he has established a love of reading.

 

I have seen one movie, but haven't ever looked at the books. What says the hive?:bigear:

 

I don't go in for the whole "twaddle vs not twaddle" argument. Somethings are well written with an interesting theme. Sometimes they're well written with an insipid theme. Sometimes they're poorly written with an interesting theme. Not all books are the total package. I don't think it ruins a child to learn to identify the difference in quality, and if they want to kiss a few frogs, I'm fine with that. In fact, I think the contrast is helpful.

 

Harry Potter is, IMOP, reasonable well written. The multiple themes are interesting, but not transformative.

 

I wouldn't necessarily recommend them to a youngish (under 10) child who doesn't show all that much interest.

 

How about The Mysterious Benefict Society? Well written and wholesome.

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My kids know the difference as well, dh and I just don't feel we need to read those, that's all. We've read some other good books though, so we're getting our reading in!:001_smile:

My comment was not meant towards you Brindee. It was a general comment. I do wonder when some parents require Tolkien or C.S. Lewis but ban Harry Potter because to my mind, they are all in the same realm, but as you said, you don't feel a need to read any of them. I can respect that.

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Not twaddle. Not when you read the entire set and see how much thought went into details provided in the first books that crops up again in the later books. Not when you look at the overall theme of all seven books.

 

Last week I reread Pride and Prejudice for the third time. I also reread the seventh H.P. book for the sixth time. Ok, Rowling is certainly not Jane Austin (and Snape is not Mr. Darcy! ;)) but the enjoyment of reading a well-thought out book is the same.

 

Hope I make sense.

 

:iagree: I used to be very anti-Potter for a long long time. When the 1st book came out, my ds was 4 or 5. I said absolutely not, when I heard about the witchcraft element, and he was still too young to read them. Also, I preferred to stay away from them for a long long time b/c my family was so adamantly against them {my sister has a distant connection to an actual practicing witch through her in-laws side} and so I told myself my kids won't read them.

 

But, then I really, really had to re-evaluate. What was I basing my opinion on? Other's opinions! I then did research on the books, took a closer look, and decided it would be okay for ds to read them.

 

Now, much, much time passed during all of this and ds is now 13. I let him start reading all the books a year ago, but I STILL hadn't read them myself. So, this spring I sat down and read them, so I could finally have an educated personal opinion!

 

I really, really can see how some people could say it is all about witchcraft, if they only read the first book. But, if one takes the time to read the whole series, and evaluate the over all themes, there is so much more to them, like JFS in IL said whom I quoted.

 

Memoria Press had an article on the Harry Potter series in The Classical Teacher this spring. It was written by Martin Cothran. In the article, he addresses parents concerns and basically says that this series may not be up to the level of the "great books" {he said that the HP series lacks depth of meaning on a deeper literary level} but it certainly is a good book. He does base this decision on just the 1st book {quoting Madelaine L'Engle} and when I read the article, I did disagree with this assumption, since you've got to evaluate the whole series, just not one book. They build on each other too much.

 

I don't mind talking with people about the HP series. But, I have a hard time talking with my family as they are so opposed to them but haven't taken the time to read and really evaluate them. How can I have a discussion with them if they have already judged me before I open my mouth? :glare:

 

Also, I treat the HP series like I would another good book in deciding if it is appropriate age wise. Although I allowed ds to read through them, if I could do it all over again, I would have him read the book that corresponds to his grade. So, the first book is when Harry is in 6th grade, so let ds read that one when he is in 6th grade and so on and so forth. Later on in the series, there are some more mature themes, but presented in a very sensitive way, imo.

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I find L'Engle's comment puzzling, considering the theme of the books. "Nothing beneath them"? I guess I assumed she was Christian. ?? (Perhaps not... I shall google.)

 

ETA: Ok, I see she was an Episcopalian Universalist. So I remain puzzled.

 

I just wondered which book(s) she had read. Cothran's article references an article that was published 8 months after L'Engle died, and who knows how long before that the *comment* was made. Was it a comment about the *first* book? Or the set of seven? (Of which the last was published only very shortly before her death.)

 

I'm a definite fan of L'Engle's (though I think her religious views are far less conventional than Rowling's), but I would say that the Harry Potter books (taken as a whole) are deeper and as well written as anything I've read of L'Engle's...

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I just wondered which book(s) she had read. Cothran's article references an article that was published 8 months after L'Engle died, and who knows how long before that the *comment* was made. Was it a comment about the *first* book? Or the set of seven? (Of which the last was published only very shortly before her death.)

 

I'm a definite fan of L'Engle's (though I think her religious views are far less conventional than Rowling's), but I would say that the Harry Potter books (taken as a whole) are deeper and as well written as anything I've read of L'Engle's...

 

That's a fair point. And yes, I agree that she is less conventional than Rowling, and it shows in her writing. She does delve into "love conquering all," but not to the explicitly "Christian redemption" extent that Rowling does.

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I just wondered which book(s) she had read. Cothran's article references an article that was published 8 months after L'Engle died, and who knows how long before that the *comment* was made. Was it a comment about the *first* book? Or the set of seven? (Of which the last was published only very shortly before her death.)

 

I'm a definite fan of L'Engle's (though I think her religious views are far less conventional than Rowling's), but I would say that the Harry Potter books (taken as a whole) are deeper and as well written as anything I've read of L'Engle's...

 

My understanding of the article is that she was speaking only of the 1st book:

 

"In a May 2008 interview in Newsweek magazine, L'Engle made an interesting observation: 'It's a nice story,' she said of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 'but there's nothing underneath it.'"

 

If that is the only book her opinion is based on, I would say it would be an incomplete observation. :)

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I guess a lot depends on your definition of "Twaddle" I personally hate that word, because in my circles it means something that simply isn't worth the paper it's printed on. It's something that adds nothing to ones learning or life. I don't think this is the case with HP. We are huge Harry Potter fans and after seeing Narnia's first movie I wondered why it was supposedly so much safer for kids. It still has witches in it, so what makes a Narnia witch more appropriate than a Potter witch. It's really a story about good vs. evil and my kids have gotten a lot out of the movies. My dh and I have each read all the books many times over and can't wait to start using them as read alouds for the kids.

 

My biggest issue is why must every thing always be "Great literature" what ever happened to reading for the fun of reading. HP got many kids to enjoy reading books again. To many it was a real turn around in library and bookstore usage.

 

Just my .02

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My understanding of the article is that she was speaking only of the 1st book:

 

"In a May 2008 interview in Newsweek magazine, L'Engle made an interesting observation: 'It's a nice story,' she said of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 'but there's nothing underneath it.'"

 

If that is the only book her opinion is based on, I would say it would be an incomplete observation. :)

 

And then there's that unfortunate American retitling -- "Sorcerer's Stone."

 

Bah.

 

Honestly, I wouldn't read it for YEARS because I thought Rowling was an idiot calling it a "sorcerer's stone." PHILOSOPHER'S stone. Scholastic didn't figure the American public could handle a book with the word "Philosopher's" in the title.

 

Bah, again.

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And then there's that unfortunate American retitling -- "Sorcerer's Stone."

 

Bah.

 

Honestly, I wouldn't read it for YEARS because I thought Rowling was an idiot calling it a "sorcerer's stone." PHILOSOPHER'S stone. Scholastic didn't figure the American public could handle a book with the word "Philosopher's" in the title.

 

Bah, again.

 

Yes! I know! We lived out of the country when these books came out. Why did Scholastic change it? It confused me for awhile as I always knew it as philosopher's stone too!

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I am really enjoying this discussion. It has given me some food for thought, but thought I should clarify my own stance on twaddle and such. I obviously allow it, he is reading lots of Hardy Boys and Boxcar Children this summer. But, there are some books that I say no to. I want him to at least be reading somewhere near his reading level.

 

We do get our share of good lit. in during the school year, as we are Sonlighters. Often he thinks he won't like a book, but then loves it once he gets into it. He has become an avid reader over the last year.

 

Part of the problem with ds is that whenever I suggest a title, he will say no. He will only pick books from the series or authors he has read and liked in the past. But he is like that about everything...a little obsessive and afraid to try new things.

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While I would not put these books on the same plane as LOTR, I personally find them to be well-written and engaging. I was impressed that the writing quality extended all the way through the end--I have read many an author who could not sustain the passion through the latter books in a series. I also thought JKR was masterful in her ability to weave details consistently through the whole of the series. Furthermore, I was impressed with her ability to create a fantasy that felt "real"--so many fantasy fiction writers are poor writers who rely heavily on the magic and mystical bells and whistles to keep the reader's attention. So, I do not consider these books twaddle at all. I do think they are well done and worth both the paper they were printed and the time to read them.

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I am really enjoying this discussion. It has given me some food for thought, but thought I should clarify my own stance on twaddle and such. I obviously allow it, he is reading lots of Hardy Boys and Boxcar Children this summer.

 

Okay, perhaps I missed it as I skimmed through the earlier posts buy, how are you defining twaddle? I wouldn't consider Hardy Boys or Boxcar Children twaddle.

 

It's not a binary choice between Great Lit & Twaddle. There is a vast realm of works that is neither poor enough to be twaddle nor important enough to be Great Lit. Much of that field needs to be encountered or the Great Books don't mean anything.

 

If you are concerned about Harry Potter, check out John Granger's work on the subject over at Hogwart's Professor and in his published works.

 

I'm of the opinion that it's much closer to Great Lit than most folks give it credit for, and that's in spite of Jo Rowling's skill as a writer.

 

HTH

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I agree that you need to take the time to read a book through yourself to make the decision. We enjoy them but the dc did not read them until they were 11 or so. They read them when they were the ages of the main characters in the first few books.

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