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Note to Skeptical Parents

    It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

-- Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 333
by J. K. Rowling

To read or not to read, it's your choice.
     All parents want their children to make the right choices in life. This is why we teach our children about the consequences of their actions. Understanding consequences helps them make choices wisely. And their choices determine not only what they do, but who they become. So what should we think when our teenager or pre-adolescent child chooses to read Harry Potter? 

     The media has focused a lot of attention on these books, both positive and negative. You've probably heard teachers raving about their students' increased interest in reading after finishing the Harry Potter series. You've also heard the praise of children and adults alike who have become ardent fans of these best-sellers. But with all the press that J. K. Rowling's award-winning series of books for children (and adults) has received, some of it is bound to be bad. What, then, should a parent make of detractors' claims that the books contain elements of evil, witchcraft, and violence? Are these claims true? Are they fair?

The question of evil and the lure of magic
     To accurately answer these questions, I suggest that parents read the books themselves. In truth, they do challenge the reader with some thought-provoking, disturbing situations. Nevertheless, Rowling handles the question of evil appropriately and meaningfully, neither glorifying it nor glossing over it. 

In Harry's universe, evil is not seen as heroic, and magic isn't always glamorous. Evil choices, whether magic or not, are not made without consequences. Those who pursue evil to further their own interests risk their freedom, their life, indeed their very soul. The dark wizard Voldemort, for example, loses his soul, his body, and his power when he tries -- and fails -- to kill a child. Now those are some serious consequences.

    Rowling never treats violence as merely a dramatic device or special effect. When a character dies in the fourth book of the series, that death is grieved by the entire school. In Harry Potter's world, the use of evil always carries consequences. In fact, all misuse of magic has its consequences. Even the breaking of school rules has its consequences.

The real focus: Not how to be a wizard, but how to become a better human being
     But evil is not the focus of the books. Goodness, loyalty, and courage are. Humor plays an important role, too, as do imagination, hard work, and openmindedness. Though the element of magic adds excitement to the story, and the British boarding school environment heightens its reality, the story is ultimately about Harry's development not as a wizard, but as a human being.

     Having literally spent ten years sleeping in a dark and gloomy closet, Harry one day receives a letter that reveals to him a whole new world bursting with magic and light. He learns that he has inherited many riches from his deceased parents: mounds of gold and silver, yes, but also talent, insight, and love. He is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And in spite of its drafty, shadowy corridors, Harry finds friendship,  enlightenment and joy there. He becomes, both literally and figuratively, a Seeker. No longer content to languish in darkness, he thrives upon the pursuit of that elusive flash of gold -- a winged spark of hope and light -- that soars in his heart, in his head, and in the sky.

     You and your child may encounter some darkness in Harry's World of Magic, but that darkness is destined to be banished by light. Likewise, you may have noticed that the entrance to Harry Potter's World of Magic Theme Park lies at the end of a sunless dungeon. But once you enter, darkness is replaced by the bright golden glow of a sheet of parchment. 

Get the message?
     Why parchment? Why not the beautiful midnight sky pierced by a thousand burning stars, as you see in our page titles? Why not a golden snitch in a sunlit sky? For this reason: everything begins with the delivery of a message written on parchment. Just as Harry discovers a whole new life and a bright new world after reading a message, so can your children. When they read about Harry Potter and his discovery of a magical new world, they, too, may discover a whole new world: the world of reading. And that discovery may in turn lead them on the road to self-discovery, as it does Harry.

     So we hope that after visiting our website, you and your child will choose to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and that you'll join us in exploring a new world. Consider this message an invitation to explore J.K. Rowling's world with you heart, your mind, and your imagination fully engaged. We know it's a choice you won't regret. In fact, it's that very choice that led to the creation of this website -- a website in which the imaginary world of Harry Potter comes to life. And what else could you call that but Magic?