In Defense of Harry Potter

Initially I ignored this article in The Washington Post in which Ron Charles attacks Harry Potter. Initially his complaint is that he and his ten year old daughter didn’t enjoy the series. From there he blames Harry Potter for the death of reading in this country. It seems that the Harry Potter books are popular in the liberal blogosphere, as they have received defenses from bloggers including Matthew Yglesias, Big Tent Democrat, Atrios, Suburban Guerilla, and Unfogged.

I have enjoyed them all, and Saturday at midnight by wife and I will be at the book store to pick up two copies so that we don’t have to fight over who gets to read the final novel first. My wife originally purchased the first novel with the intent of interesting our daughter. She had limited interest, but my wife got me to read the first, and I continued on from there. Sure, they are children’s books but many works of literature were also children’s books. There is a definite difference between these books and adult novels and I would certainly not want to be limited to only Harry Potter novels, but that does not mean these books cannot be enjoyed.

I’m sure that some people, such as myself, read other novels before Harry Potter and have contlinued doing so. Other people have read Harry Potter and little, if anything else. Some may have read Harry Potter and then begin to read adult novels. I doubt that there are any people who stopped reading adult novels due to reading Harry Potter.

Ron Charles may very well be right that reading is declining and this is an unfortunate development, but that is hardly the fault of the Harry Potter novels. We’ve often heard that the Harry Potter books were a good thing as they got people to read who otherwise would not read novels. Charles does not agree, citing the continuing decline in reading.  What we don’t know is how many  less people might be reading novels if not for the Harry Potter books. Regardless, the decline in reading would occur regardless of whether the Harry Potter books had ever been published. If Charles is disappointed that more people aren’t moving on to more adult novels after reading Harry Potter, it would make far more sense for him to try to entice readers of his column with other books to read after they finish the final novel.

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