Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter

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Warning: I’ve tried to be vague and keep spoilers at a minimum, but if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about the plot, be warned that this post contains allusions to themes and plot events.

Harry Potter

Confession: I have loved the Potter series since I was 12 years old. I grew up with Rowling’s books and they continue to delight me. I cannot wait until my children are old enough to delve into the enchanting world of Harry Potter. Now, I know some folks take issue with the idea that the characters are wizards. Particularly in conservative Christian circles, the Harry Potter books have been maligned and enraged parents have demanded they be banned from school libraries. This is hard for me to understand. Few modern fictional works are built upon such a strong Christian philosophical framework as Rowling’s books. Your kids need to read them. For the sake of their souls (and I’m only being slightly hyperbolic.)

First, let’s get something out of the way. The main characters are described as wizards. True. And the school they attend is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. That’s enough for some folks to throw them in the fire right then and there. But, an important distinction needs to be made. Sorcery in these books is not the sort of witchcraft forbidden in Holy Scripture. The wizards in Harry Potter do not invoke evil spirits or dark forces in order to change the physical world. Rather, they possess a genetic capability, like a superpower. No one seems to have objections to Tolkien’s Gandalf although he is a self-described wizard. For a more in depth explanation of the differences between witchcraft as defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the sort of magic in Harry Potter, please read Karen Edmisten’s excellent post.

Now that that’s out of the way, why is it so important that your children read this series? The Harry Potter books have many virtues including a high view of the family, strong female characters, and an Aristotelian view of friendship, but I want my children to read them because as humans we learn through stories. And these stories reveal an exaltation of virtue, an orthodox view of evil, a courageous view of self-sacrificial death, and a portrayal of the beauty and strength of love.

Themes of Christian virtue carry Rowling’s characters through the tale. Bravery, loyalty, self-sacrifice, compassion; these are all presented as important traits to be sought after. Now, that’s not to say that the characters never make mistakes. Indeed, the main characters lie, abandon friends in need, and neglect their families among other grave errors. But, it is clear when they transgress that they have done wrong and they suffer the consequences. There are no morally ambiguous or warped characters that you find yourself rooting for.  This is where the Potter books differ greatly from some other fantasy works such as the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.  Lyra, the main character of Pullman’s books, has an extraordinary ability to lie without detection, a skill from which she benefits and which is viewed as a positive trait. Rowling’s series has you cheering her characters on toward virtue. No one can help loving Ron and when he really fails his friends in The Deathly Hallows, it truly breaks your heart because you so dearly wanted him to do the right thing. When he makes amends, his redemption is splendid. The characters may be flawed, but the stories make the path of virtue clear.

Like Tolkien, Rowling’s depiction of evil is incredibly Augustinian. Early Church father St. Augustine defines evil as a perversion of the good. He also emphasizes that evil is not an equal match of the Good, but far weaker. As something good becomes twisted and warped, it moves closer to nonbeing. Lord Voldemort is really a perfect example of this. As he becomes more deeply entrenched in evil, he becomes less and less human, less and less alive. The acts of murder and cruelty he carries out literally tear apart his soul making his being less whole. He is a shadow of a man. The quest for power without goodness is truly a journey toward pathetic and grotesque brokenness as is portrayed in the King’s Cross chapter in The Deathly Hallows when Harry is face to face with a visual depiction of Voldemort’s soul. Like the White Witch in Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, evil according to the Potter books cannot even comprehend the great strength of love and is ultimately destroyed by it.

Indeed, Rowling’s works understand that love is the strongest magic of all and evil crumbles before it. Harry’s headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, explains this truth repeatedly. We can only be truly human and truly ourselves if we love, the story teaches. If we can live out self-sacrificial love, like Harry’s parents Lily and James, Harry himself, Dumbledore, and the numerous other characters willing to give their lives for those they love, we have already overcome. Sound familiar? Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

And that brings us to a theme that Rowling returns to again and again: death. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter books as a way to process her own mother’s death and the very first chapter of the book reveals that Harry’s mother and father have been murdered, leaving him an orphan. The way Rowling deals with death in the series is just so….well, Christian. Firstly, the tales emphasizes that death is not the end. No, indeed. In fact, on Harry’s parents tombstone is the verse, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Also, although death is a complex and difficult reality, it is not presented as something to fear. There are worse things than dying, the story shows us, such as destroying one’s soul through submission to evil. Giving up your life in order to save those you love is an unbeatable “magic “of incalculable power. In the end, evil is conquered by an act of ultimate sacrifice. Love and death are intricately connected. But love, as Rowling’s story shows us, is stronger than death.

I firmly believe that every parent should be closely involved with the books and ideas their children are presented with. So read the Harry Potter books. And if you find them as compelling as I do, share them with your kids.


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      • Fatcat says

        I can’t believe I’ve found a community of people who know who Jim Dale is and are fans!

        He’s practically a member of our family now that we’ve listed (repeatedly) to all the Harry Potter books and the Peter and the Starcatchers books. 🙂

    • Haley says

      I don’t even know how many times I’ve read them! And we always listen to the audiobooks on road trips 🙂

  1. says

    I love this. Thanks for such an articulate, inspiring post. “Rowling’s works understand that love is the strongest magic of all and evil crumbles before it.” That part makes me want to stand up and cheer…and then go read all the books again.

  2. Misty says

    Thank you so, SO much for this! I am a 35 year old, self-confessed Harry Potter fanatic (and shameless Ron Weasley fangirl!). I’m also mother to a 6 year old daughter. Also, and most importantly, I’m a Christ-follower. (I’ve grown to identify more with that title than simply Christian, but that too.)

    I have read the first 2 HP books to my daughter and she loved them. I know she is too young to really “get” all the gooey goodness they hold, but I hope by instilling a love for them early, that she’ll want to read them again for herself when she gets older.

    When discussing the objections some Christians have to the series, a pastor friend of mine put it better than I had ever heard it before: “The Harry Potter series is all about the power of love versus the love of power.” Take it a step further, that’s essentially what the Gospel is about too….

  3. Reelmomof4 says

    What an excellent synopsis of the virtues of the HP series! I had to be harassed into reading this series because, frankly, I had heard “evil” ideas about them. I just simply didn’t think it was necessary to “go there”. I finally caved and read the first book. I was sold. Hook, line and sinker! Since then, my children and I have read the series an number of times (actually, an embarrassing number of times!), and listened to the series on audio. I have personally come under fire from others in our christian circle that live in fear of the unknown of what these books are truly about and I love to have an excellent resource, so eloquently written, to direct people to for an understanding of what the series is about. So, Thank You for such insight 🙂

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Tammy! That’s so kind. I am in love with the audiobooks. The guy who reads them is so wonderful!

  4. says

    This is a fantastic post! I’m a baptist pastor, and a huge fan of HP. I’m teaching a HP class at my homeschool group this year. I have had people “confront” me because of my public appreciation for this series. My response to their objection regarding magic has always been that magic is not glorified in HP, but rather virtues. I love your point about the genetic aspect of being a magic-wielder, and will add it to my arsenal.


  5. says

    LOVE THIS! I too deeply love Harry Potter. Years ago, when the books were still new and the movies hadn’t come out yet, I did a book study in my classroom using the first 3 books in the series. The students I had in my class at that time were very far below grade level in reading and struggled. In the end we laughed, cried, and learned so much. Most importantly, my students developed a love for reading that couldn’t have happened without Harry Potter. It was a public school, so there weren’t discussions about the spiritual meaning in the text, but maybe the students did that kind of thinking on their own. Years later I still reread these books regularly and never fail to be amazed at the skill Rowling uses to show love in so many ways.

  6. Jessica L says

    I am SO happy that I found your review. Many of these things I’ve thought to myself, but haven’t been able to articulate quite so well! I’m a serious Potterhead, and my children (4 yr old daughter and 7 yr old son) LOVE the series. So far they’ve only watched the movies, but I look forward to the days when I’ll be able to read the books to them.

  7. Halli says

    I didn’t read the whole article yet. I’ve only read the first paragraph so far, and I LOVE what I’ve read so far. My best friend wasn’t allowed to read the books when they first came out, because of what her mom heard. There is good news, though. My friend’s mom only told her she couldn’t read the books until after the mother had had a chance to read them. She did, and came to the EXACT same conclusion as you. THANK YOU for this. God bless and I look forward to reading much more from you!

  8. noha says

    Beautifully put, I couldn’t agree with you more. I dont have any children of my own, but I encourage parents I know to read these books to their kids. I’ve always felt it that Harry Potter told a great story of friendship and love. It’s real for us.

  9. Randi says

    I have been searching and searching for a response to the people that say the HP books are “unchristian” and now I have found it! I didn’t start reading the books until about a month before the 7th one came out. I devoured them and still had 2 weeks until Deathly Hallows was released! Needless to say, my heart swelled when my 8-year-old asked to start the series.

    I came across a link for you blog today and I am so glad I found it!

  10. Tanya Wersinger says

    I think HP books are bad. I would never read them myself,. I would never read them to my children, and have discouraged my kids from reading Rowlings books. We are free to do what we wish, but children have innocence that has been diminished at an earlier age because we want to excite them and indulge them. I take seriously the acountability I have for them before God.

    • Haley says

      Well, Tanya, I think every parent has the right to make those sort of decisions for their children. I’m not sure why you think the HP books are “bad” since you didn’t elaborate, although it might be due to the fact that you haven’t actually read them. Again, it’s every parent’s job to decide what they deem appropriate and edifying for their own children.

    • Dawn says

      Consider reading Connie Neal’s “What’s a Christian to do with Harry Potter?” It is an excellent read for those who have been told the books are somehow bad. Hard to say what sort of innocence would be lost, and without reading the books, you are also at a loss I am sure. There is no “witchcraft” as certain people have told us, but rather a positive magic as found in the Tolkein and Lewis books. I promise that until you read the books, or at least Neal’s assessment of them, you sound a bit uninformed and silly. Not trying to be rude, but you can’t knowledgeably speak of something you know nothing of. Read ABOUT the books, then read the books if you wish, but only then can you form an informed opinion.

  11. Madji says

    Haley, thank you so much for writing this. I could not agree more. We are Greek Orthodox and constantly speak about how orthodox the books are on so many different levels. My son is only 9 months old but I’ve already started reading the books to him. I have read them all a truly embarrassing number of times and cannot wait until he is old enough to discuss them with me. Love in and of itself is the greatest magic (as Dumbledore himself says) and it is wonderful to give our children stories of love and sacrifice triumphing over evil, fear and hate. I don’t read a lot of blogs but I have truly enjoyed every post of yours that I have read. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your life with us.

    • Haley says

      Thanks, Madji! We feel the same way. I can’t wait til our 3-year-old is ready for HP as a read aloud. We are committed to now showing him any of the movies until he’s read the books (and of course, until he’s ready for them because the later ones are pretty scary) but it’s hard to wait!

  12. says

    LOVE this article. In most ways, my husband and I are conservative Christian, but not when it comes to Harry Potter. I read each of the books before my children were allowed to read them and those who speak of sorcery and devil worship have clearly not read the books. Thank you for summing up so succinctly why these are good books for kids to read. I could not agree more.

  13. Tamara says

    I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter. I just had a baby girl on November 2nd and I’ve been reading her a chapter a night already. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to read them herself. 🙂

  14. CR says

    I also enjoyed reading the Harry Potter stories, and love finding books with strong themes of true heroism. However, I find the Harry Potter series to be a mixed blessing. Though loving someone to the point of giving your life for that person is considered the greatest good, yet again and again there is an ends-justifies-the-means ethical system underlying the main characters’ actions. When Hermione petrifies Neville in the first book and leaves him laying trapped on the floor by the door for hours in the middle of the night, Neville’s heroism is rewarded, but the horrible thing Hermione just did to a friend was considered necessary and therefore excusable. Always the characters are breaking laws and rules because they want something and therefore the book justifies using magic to overhear private conversations, sneaking out at night, etc. If this were a situation of double-effect, where the non-intrinsically evil actions bring about a greater good immediately, it could be justified. But usually they are not, and certainly the characters don’t know that what they’re doing will end up for the greater good at least half of the time.
    I’m not saying not to read the Harry Potter books, but they are definitely books that I would like my children to wait to read until they are a little older, and that I will discuss with my children as presenting a wrong and problematic worldview.

    • Haley says

      I think this is a valid criticism, CR. I would point to (SPOILER…..stop reading anyone who hasn’t finished the series!) Snape and Dumbledore’s decision that murdering him is the only option. That is the most problematic scene for me because it seems to say that the end justifies the evil of the act, which simply isn’t true. But that is the primary issue I have with the series. I think it’s reasonable for characters, even good ones, to make mistakes (otherwise you can’t really have a story, and it certainly wouldn’t be a very compelling one). In my opinion, it’s quite clear in most cases that a character has done something wrong and that wrongdoing is not glorified. It seems realistic that each act of wrongdoing isn’t followed by immediate and obvious negative consequences. But I don’t think that vice is ever promoted.

      • Mary says

        This was my only issue as well! I loved the series and it’s portrayal of sacrificial love, but I had to have a vague discussion with my son (10) about this very scene before he read it (the ends never justify the means), and then followed up with a more detail discussion after he read it. Killing is NEVER an option, even if it was thought that a greater good would come out of it. Yes, Dumbeldore was dying, but we will never know they good he may have accomplished if he had been able to live longer. It was a good talk, though, and opened up a discussion about many pro-life issues. My son now understands, in a 10 year old way, why the Church is against euthanasia.

  15. says

    This is an excellent post! Thank you for taking the time to so eloquently & succinctly express the importance of this series. I arrived at this post after following a rabbit hole of links off pinterest about books our daughters should read…landing first on your letter to your daughter about Twilight. Everything you have said resounds so vibrantly with me as a reader and as a teacher at a classical Christian school. Well done and thank you!

    • Haley says

      That sounds so fun! I can’t wait til my kiddos are old enough to enjoy the series. Great idea in tying it into learning classical languages.

    • says

      Oh gosh! I just read the comment about making spell books and I find that really alarming as someone who has experience of the occult. Please don’t ever, ever do that again. It’s not a game… even if you think it is… yikes… just don’t. The Church has very strong admonitions against anything of the kind and with very good reason!

  16. says

    I really appreciated reading this because you so eloquently articulated why I love the HP series and why naysayers should probably give it another look. I was one of the people who, when the series first came out, poo pooed it for all the glorification of magic and such. Then when I finally read it, I realized how inaccurate my opinion had been. As others have stated, I do take issue with the “ends justify the means” aspect of certain storylines and do think that parents should determine if their young readers are mature enough to understand that that’s not acceptable. That said, when those situations come up, I discuss them with my boys (11yo & 8yo). We are listening to the books while they both read along (thank God for library books!).

    By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve had my kids listen while they read. My older son’s reading level needs improvement. He seems to retain info and comprehend info better if he receives it by hearing, seeing, and touching, so I would check out two copies of books – one for him to read and one for me to read aloud to him. Listening to the books while reading allows him to enjoys stories that might have otherwise been too difficult (in his mind) for him.

    • Haley says

      Great points about the need for discussion and help with interpretation. And love your ideas about supplementing visual learning with audio books!

  17. says

    I forgot to say that, upon finishing each book, we watch the movie. We are currently listening to The Goblet of Fire. When we get close to the end, I’ll place the movie on hold at the library. I love libraries, though truth be told, I’ve been keeping my eyes open at thrift stores for the books and have gotten some of them for super cheap! 🙂

  18. Patricia Prenosil says

    I completely agree with your assesment of the good points of the HP series. I did, however, have one reservation about it (no, not the wizardy) along with the caveat that is waits to an appropriate age. The issue I see is that the lying and sneaking out (disobeying the rules) is not shown as wrong. Harry, Ron, and Hermione rarely get in trouble for it and are usually let off if they are caught despite Hermione’s warnings. It does seem to give the impression that those things are okay if you are the “good guy” or you are doing them for the right reasons. We had a friend whose 8 year old was reading them and when we brought that concern up to her father he questioned her on it. Sure enough, she said it was okay that Harry lied and disobeyed the rules because he was trying to do the right thing. I still intend to read them with my kids, but that will be one point we will discuss–along with all the good themes!

    • Haley says

      Patricia, I’m glad you brought that up and I think you are absolutely right that those situations in the series merit discussion with the child reading the books. And it would be crucial to discuss the ends justify the means issues. I think it’s important to note, though, that disobeying the rules in real life doesn’t always result in obvious negative consequences (of course, sin always has consequences but they might not include “getting caught” or the plan failing.) That would be an important discussion to have! I think explaining that Dumbledore shouldn’t always be interpreted as the moral compass (as Rowling makes clear in the 7th book) would also be a critical theme to discuss with young readers. Thanks for chiming in!

  19. Jenny says

    Let me preface this by saying that I love the Harry Potter books and have read them all multiple times. I love the themes of friendship and sacrifice set in this magical new world. Yet I also have problems with the “end justifies the means” attitude that occurs throughout the story. The children usually end up being praised for it! Several times the children are told that they have broken school rules, but then are rewarded school points because something good just happened to come of it.

    • Haley says

      Jenny, I agree that the “end justifies the means” attitude is definitely a feature of the books that would merit discussion with a child. A few ideas though: first of all, the children often do suffer consequences for breaking the rules. As you said, sometimes they don’t and the end result is positive. Sometimes breaking the rules are not immoral (training in defense against the dark arts against the wishes of the headmistress, Umbridge, etc.) Also, as I mentioned in the comment above, if every time poor judgement or character were punished by an obvious negative consequence, the stories would be very unbelievable. It’s simply not so in real life. Personally, I think the most confusing aspect of the books would be in explaining that Dumbledore is not always meant to be the moral compass. Although this becomes clear in Book 7, it would be important to consider that with a child while addresses the problems with what Dumbledore asks Snape to do in Book 6 (I don’t want to leave any major spoilers, so I hope that’s vague enough!). But yes, I think that’s an important feature of the books that would need to be discussed! Thanks for chiming in 🙂

  20. carmen says

    GIRL, I completely hear what you’re saying and I agree and I absolutely love Harry and everything, BUT how can you be biased against Twilight and say it’s got bad morals when the HP series also has ground for heresy and anti-Christianity? You left out a big reason why many Christians, particularly us CATHOLICS, condemn Harry: in the Harry Potter universe, witches and wizards get their power from an un-named source and yet they still live in *this* world amongst “Muggles” who don’t have superhuman godlike powers… for no reason. This is unlike LotR and Narnia, because in those books the characters are strictly encountering a different world. Middle Earth is not this world. Narnia is not this world, though the Pevensies come from this world. But, the world Harry and his friends inhabit is *this* world where God is supreme ruler, and yet no mention of God is mentioned and “wizardry” is not attributed to any supreme ruler. How unfair is that, c’mon. Even Philip Pullman had the decency to use another world to tell his story but Rowling is clearly ignoring the issue of God and grace. Why should Tom Riddle or Sirius Black or Hermione have been born with godlike powers, like telekinesis and teleportation and possess potion-making and flying skills, and others not? How does that fit into God’s plan?

    …I would really like your opinion on that, and I’d also like to reiterate that I have no problem with the Harry books but I also don’t have a problem with Twilight either and you can look at the comments of that thread for why. Bella and Edward are just as magical as Harry and they are just as moral. I mean, Edward admits he is a Christian and talks about how he feels he is in Hell because of his urges to hunt humans, but that he has faith in God and he pushes Bella to do the same. Bella is pro-life and refuses to abort her baby. They are just as Christian as Harry and his friends, and I applaud Stephenie Meyer for having the courage to bring the name of the Lord into her series. Rowling did not.

  21. Michelle Weeks says

    Thank you. I agree with you. We are all new to the HP books even though my kids are older, I’ve just now gotten around to it. We are all obsessed!

  22. Michelle Weeks says

    I forgot to say that my Mother’s Day card said, “I love you more than Dobby likes socks.” Complete with an explanation of the theme of a mother’s love in Harry Potter on the back. My heart swelled. 😉

  23. says

    Yes! You articulated this all so beautifully. I love these books, and while I’m careful not to read my own thoughts into them, it’s refreshing to see books that differentiate so clearly between good and evil, and that treat evil as a lesser thing, a distortion of good.

    And Michelle, that sounds like the sweetest card ever!

  24. says

    Excellent. The rebel in me hates it when I hear people say, Don’t read that!” That just makes me say, “Why?” I saw nothing wrong with the HP series and was so shocked by some of the downright lies people were fed about the series. You made all the points so clearly!

  25. says

    Whoops, I meant to add, that whenever a child or teen wants to read a book you are unsure about the best thing you can do is read it yourself first. Then you can decide from there and will be able to discuss why you will or will not let them read it. I have found my teens have a lot more respect for my decisions when I can speak from authority, not just, “Well, I heard…”

  26. Joe Vanderhulst says

    I will start by saying that I haven’t read the HP books, so I may be misunderstanding how magic is presented in the books. Nor am I a moral theologian, but I do have some education in theology and law. I just want to point out that the explanation of the Church’s teaching on magic is flawed and not in keeping with the plain language in the Catechism.

    Paragraph 2217 clearly states that, “ALL practices of magic or sorcery, by which on attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.” Notice that the clauses within that sentence, by standard statutory/sentence construction, are NOT restrictive, but descriptive. All practice of magic, for whatever reason, by anyone, is gravely immoral, that is, constitutes grave matter as far as mortal sin is concerned. Note that the definition of “occult” is usually just paranormal, as in beyond normal human physical powers. So, if Harry Potter is a human being, this moral law applies to him. Period. And I personally find it extremely morally problematic to say that he is a “special” human being who has “special” genetic powers that “permit” him to break the moral law. What a horrific thing to teach children. “Well kids, normally, for most people it would be gravely sinful to kill someone (or steal, commit adultery, or whatever), but the characters in this book live in our world, but possesses special genes that permit them to do so.”

    “These practices are EVEN MORE to be condemned . . . when they have recourse to the intervention of demons.” So, quite clearly and plainly, the practice of magic already constitutes grave matter, and is only made even worse when demons or evil spirits are involved. So just because HP doesn’t involve demons, that is categorically irrelevant, other than it would constitute an even graver mortal matter. So, it is irrelevant whether magic is non-demonic or is helping people in HP, it still constitutes grave matter.

    What about Tolkien and Narnia? There is a very simple and very essential distinction. No human beings/mortals practice magic. Period. Because it would be morally wrong for them to do so. Gandalf is not human. In Tolkien’s writings he clearly states that he is an angel (quite literally) who has taken human form. If that’s hard for you, think of Raphael journeying with Tobiah and helping him. Very simple. Can angels travel through time and space, move things, etc., you bet, BECAUSE they are angels and that is proper to their nature. It is not paranormal for them. The hobbits ask the elves if the cloaks they receive are “magical”, the elves respond that they don’t know what they mean by that. Because to them it isn’t magic, but according to their nature, because they are not human. Same with Narnia. Digory’s uncle is clearly doing evil.

    So, if Harry is not a human being, but is an angel or a parallel kind of made up spiritual being, then fine. But if he is just a human with special genes that allow him to engage in morally wrong acts, that is a serious problem.

  27. Danyelle Webber says

    I agree with you Joe Vanderhulst. The Bible also says at Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 there should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, anyone who employes divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or anyone who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller or events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For anyone doing these things is something detestable to God and on account of these detestable things God is driving them awsy from you. So you see magic in any form straight from the Bible is bad. God did not say yoy can only do these things if they employ good or love. He says a “practicer of magic” not practicer of evil magic. And you say there are no demons in HP. I beg to differ. What are all of Voltimores friends or helps, who are the flying black ghostlike creatures that take your breath away and kill you, just to name a few. It is just another evil ploy of Satan to get you to think evil is good in any form. Greed for her making money on the books , movied, audiotapes, toys and so on. MAGIC IN ANY FORM IS WRONG. Speaking from experience in the end it will backfire on you. I once loved HP so much I studied Wicca and several forms of magic for 10 yrs. It almost destroyed my life and my marriage. I am now a full time 100% Christian. When I was about to be baptized the evil demon tried to destroy me anf frighten me not to turn from them. So you see it starts with curiousity, leading to research then practicing. It only took one book and 3 movies to almost ruin my life: Harry Potter, The Craft and Practical Magic I was hooked. So something simple as your kid playing he is Harry or his best friend is Voltimore can end up wanting more. Remember the Bible calls Satan the Serpent? Well in the Harry Potter movie what did young Voltimore turn into before was Voltimore? Yes a Serpent aka a demon/Satan. So rethink the love family loyalty part again. I rather watch a good movie or read a book such as Bible stories or watch Toy Story, Ice Age, Flubber justto name a few.

    • says

      First off, thanks be to God that you responded to the grace He gave you and experienced a conversion. That’s awesome.

      Secondly, your story makes me wonder how firm you were in your faith BEFORE you encountered Harry Potter, The Craft, and Practical Magic. It seems to me that when one is well catechized, and is leading a life as a disciple of Christ, encounters with the occult do not have the same seductive power as they do over the lukewarm or spiritually ignorant.

      I’m speaking out of first hand experience. I was raised a poorly catechized Protestant, spent about a decade swept up in the lure of New Age philosophies, and eventually found myself safely in the arms of the Church. I know for a fact that had I been educated in the faith of my childhood, I wouldn’t have been such an easy victim to the slick occult influences I came up against.

      In other words, take the faith you have now, how on fire you are for Christ, and ask yourself- would two movies and a book be enough to lead you away from Him? I’m betting no.

      So while Harry Potter may not appeal to everyone who is firmly grounded in their Faith, I don’t think that it’s the all-powerful seductress that it may be to the wandering and lost.

  28. Kristen says

    I want to start this off by saying *i love your blog* and will continue to relish its beauty! However, these sentiments I do disagree with. I wanted to link you an interesting sermon I listened to some time after watching all the Potter films and reading a few of the books (read a few aloud to kids too). It’s actually a very popular Catholic idea that Harry deals in the occult, a conduit for evil. This sermon comes from a wonderful Traditional Catholic site where Carholic laymen record Homilies of Catholic priests from various parishes across the nation. Enjoy: http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20130617-The-Occult-Harry-Potter-and-Combating-the-Demonic.html

  29. says

    I’m with ya, girl. We loved the Potter books. Beautifully written, wonderful Christian themes and awesome life lessons. We’ve read the first book with our three oldest and then let them loose. I’ve read them over and over. We’re huge Potter fans here.

  30. Hannah says

    I really appreciate your review of these books, and I’m inspired to give them another try. When the books first came out all I heard from Christian friends and parents was about the sorcery (I heard that there were actual wican spells in the text). I figured it was mostly hype, so once in a bookstore I picked up book three and read the first paragraph. If I remember right, it started out with a statement about how someone died and no one was sad about it. I just put the book back down, thinking good riddance! If they’re actually as good as you say, it’s worth another shot. Many good books to read! Cheers.

  31. says

    I love this. Thank you! My 11 year old just finished up the series and I gave him the guideline of one book a year just like they came out. Then we adapted to one at his birthday and one when the school year started. He has loved them. My 2nd grader is ready to start reading them now and just this week I was wondering if her was really “ready” spiritually to handle them.

  32. says

    I love the Harry Potter books. Especially the first four. I’m going to say, though, I think the books give a bad example of how adults interact with kids. Namely, that adults cannot be trusted, that they do not listen when you have a serious problem, etc.

  33. Chris Garling says

    Thanks for writing this post. I recently started reading the 1st Harry Potter with my 8 year old son and it’s perfect. I can’t believe how differently I absorb the content while reading with my child.
    When we read about the student’s first lesson on broomsticks, my son actually covered his ears and eyes and made me skip the part where he THINKS HP will get expelled from Hogwarts. I’m beaming because he’s really relating to the character and doesn’t want to see him get into trouble. So much fun!

  34. Beth says

    I’m a new reader and really appreciate this.

    I held off for a long time reading these books out of concern raised by Pope Benedict (while he was Cardinal Ratzinger), however, never really read the letters he wrote.

    SO, I read your article and Karen’s. Then I googled Ratzinger. I found this, that contains the original letters:


    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. You’ve broadened my horizons!

  35. Amanda says

    I have only JUST discovered your blog, and you are a younger version of myself, hallelujah! I was wondering, two years after you wrote this, whether you have discovered any of John Granger’s books or online courses on HP and its correct take on Christianity? A fellow Potterhead friend of mine local to me (who at the time was our parish’s Faith Formation chair) went to see him speak at a local college the year that the last book came out, which was a big deal for those of us who love Potter and are also friend with other Catholic moms who don’t. I believe one of his books is “Looking for God in Harry Potter” and he himself is an Eastern Orthodox deacon, so his deep takes on our faith and dogma being positively reinforce in the world of HP was welcome and fed me on an intellectual level that I sorely needed at that point in my life. (BTW, I’m a lifelong but-more-recently-very-devout Catholic mom of 5, married to a fellow Tolkein buff and Potterhead for almost 23 years, and every other year or so, we break out the hardcovers and begin the series again with another child. Our youngest is 5, so I still have two kids to go…we started reading it to the now-7 year old this summer, but by POA she was getting very confused and asking more questions that were practical, so we retreated to Narnia again and promised her we’d try again next summer.) Thank you again for another excellent post, and keep reading! Look forward to keeping up with your blog from now on! Will pray for you and your beautiful family…

  36. Lindsay H. says

    I love Harry Potter as well…can’t wait for my children to read it. Recently my mom was at a morning grade school mass and the priest spoke of St. Hedwig and he pointed out that Hedwig is the name of Harry’s beloved owl! St. Hedwig is the patron Saint of orphans and of course Harry is an orphan! There was more to his homily about St. Hedwig and Harry’s owl but the orphan connection is so neat. Now tell me you don’t want to dive in even more to find the amazing Christian connections…no matter how small. So wonderful!

  37. says

    Hi. I’m a big reader, and I love how you plan for your children to read GOOD literature, not the crappy stuff. So I’d like to recommend the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer. They’re based on Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White, but they’re not doe-eyed girls who believe in love at first sight. They’re strong, empowered characters, and so . . . real. For example: Cinder is a mechanic. Scarlet can shoot a gun. Cress is a hacker. Etc., etc., etc.
    Please let me know if you like it (if you decide to try it out). It’s young adult fiction, by the way, but it’s fit for adults too.

  38. Eve says

    In 1997 one of my children was in second grade. The aid decided to read the class “Harry Potter.” My daughter came home very excited about the wizards, etc, much to my dismay. I checked it out of the library that day figuring I’d read the first and last chapters. The theme underlying the story stunned me. The self-sacrificial love of Harry’s mother saved his life and marked him forever! If you are suspicious of the books check them out. I think you’ll find them very inspiring.

  39. says

    Yes! Thank you for writing this! I wasn’t allowed to read the books as a kid, so I read them as a young adult and loved them! I have tried to explain the gospel themes (particularly the last one you mentioned) to several people and they are always surprised. You added in a few things that I hadn’t even thought about but that were great points! I can’t wait for my kids to read these someday!
    Alesha <3

  40. Ruth says

    I love this book review. I grew up with the Harry Potter books too, and to this day, they remain some of my favorites! I have been looking forward to sharing them with my kids and have recently started reading them as a bedtime story to my eldest. I hope she loves them as much as I do!

  41. Carole says

    “No one seems to have objections to Tolkien’s Gandalf although he is a self-described wizard.”

    Perhaps not now, but there was a time….


  1. […] For Michaelmas. Oh. Em. Garsh.  This gal is smart. She completely won me over with her defense of Harry Potter (she basically got in my head and beat me to the post, years before I gave it a thought.) Her blog […]

  2. […] Like Tolkien, Rowling’s depiction of evil is incredibly Augustinian. Early Church father St. Augustine defines evil as a perversion of the good. He also emphasizes that evil is not an equal match of the Good, but far weaker. As something good becomes twisted and warped, it moves closer to nonbeing. Lord Voldemort is really a perfect example of this. As he becomes more deeply entrenched in evil, he becomes less and less human, less and less alive. The acts of murder and cruelty he carries out literally tear apart his soul making his being less whole. He is a shadow of a man. The quest for power without goodness is truly a journey toward pathetic and grotesque brokenness as is portrayed in the King’s Cross chapter in The Deathly Hallows when Harry is face to face with a visual depiction of Voldemort’s soul. Like the White Witch in Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, evil according to the Potter books cannot even comprehend the great strength of love and is ultimately destroyed by it.  (Haley Stewart, Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter) […]

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