Scores of American Christian parents believe that the Harry Potter books are a door to sorcery and the occult. Fearing that their children will turn into warlocks, witches, or sorcerers if they read the books, these parents refuse to let their children check the books out from the public or school library. My Evangelical ex-daughter-in-law is one such parent. She refuses to let her children read the books, whereas their father has no problem with them doing so. These grandchildren, ages eleven and nine, are voracious readers, as are our other grandchildren. We encourage them, as we did their parents, to read, read, read. So far, most of our grandchildren have advanced (high school, college level) reading skills. Polly and I are delighted to see their love of books.
When the Harry Potter books first came out, I was still an Evangelical pastor. I was somewhat concerned with the content of the books, so I had Polly read the books first. The books passed the Polly Test with flying colors. Our younger children read the Potter books several times over the years, and our grandchildren are now reading those very same well-worn copies.
While Polly and I were hardcore, devout followers of Jesus, when it came to what we allowed our children to read, we were indifferent liberals. Our older sons can testify to the fact that they were allowed to read books that many homeschooling Evangelical parents would have disproved of. This contradiction baffles me to this day. I don’t know why we let them read whatever they wanted to read, but we did. And, as best I can tell, they are better off because we did. Of course, a few Evangelicals likely will say that the Gerencser family’s rejection of the one true faith is directly connected to our liberal/secular reading habits. Books ruined us!
When I deconverted in 2008, I received a letter from a former parishioner that told me in no uncertain terms that books led to my loss of faith. She told me that I needed to return to reading only the Bible. If I would do so, she was sure my faith would return. I did not heed her advice.
Were you allowed to read whatever you wanted? If not, what books were on your parent’s banned-books list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.