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Children shouldn't always be protected

Feb. 23, 2001

All over the country parents are fighting to pull the Harry Potter books off the shelf, putting the best-seller at the top of the American Library Associations list of most-challenged books.

The ALA's office for Intellectual Freedom reported Harry Potter entered the list after three months of being on the shelf because of complaints about the books alleged occult/Satanic theme, religious viewpoint and violence.

But to fight this book is ridiculous. Children are finally enjoying reading books. What can be so wrong with that?

I grew up reading and loved doing it. My parents encouraged it as most logical parents would. I had the opportunity to read books friend's parents were trying to take out of schools libraries like Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Of Mice and Men and the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. These books made me love reading even more. Despite the argued sexual content or racism, these words have inspired millions and even more have encouraged further reading.

We all want our children to read, but these parents want their children to read unimaginative, boring books.

I always wonder if these are the same parents who enjoyed reading L. Frank Baum's Oz series or Alice in Wonderland when they were young. Or is it just a deadly cycle of poorly read people?

Good books capture the child's attention, exactly what Harry Potter books do for children all over the world. So they have witches and goblins; many creative books for children do.

Should we pull everything that contains something evil off the shelf?

If we did, all the Disney stories would have to go, The Wizard of Oz, and so on and so on. All the books we grew up enjoying would be gone, and then what would the children read?

I have a 7-year-old nephew who detests reading. He thinks it is the most boring thing in the world, and then all of a sudden a friend told him about Harry Potter. He read the first book in the series in one weekend. A boy who hated reading before now loves to sit in his room just to read about Harry Potter's crazy adventures.

I think that is the greatest thing about children's books, making something so fun for them they can't even put it down. What an accomplishment for J.K. Rowling, the author of the series.

We all know reading is one of the most important things for a developing mind, but do these parents only want their children to read the Bible?

Children are finally enjoying books. Why not encourage it rather than fight it?