A Life Without Harry Potter

Over the summer I found myself in a local eatery specializing in deli sandwiches, as my eyes slid down the menu above, the option “corned beef” caught my eye. This was not by virtue of appetite however, rather intuitively my mind had transported thousands of miles away to a freshly departed train making its way to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Ronald Bilius Weasley was the sixth child born to parents Arthur and Molly Weasley. Their children (seven in all) are marked rather similarly to the average bystander: fire-red hair, hand-me-down clothes, and a certain gumption that is the result of living so enthusiastically with so little. The features that separate the Weasley’s are less pronounced; for example, the second eldest, Charlie, has a particular fascination with dragons, twins Fred and George can regularly be seen testing one of their newest inventions on an unsuspecting victim, as for Ron, he hates corned beef.

As you very well may know, the Weasley’s are fictional characters created by author J.K. Rowling in the adored Harry Potter series, and although this miniscule detail regarding Ron’s food preferences is a rather absurd defining characteristic, it’s a distinction that, at least in my mind, has forever linked the salt-cured beef product with the freckle-faced friend of The Boy Who Lived.

Seven years after completing the series and my days continue to be sprinkled with tiny connections that suck me back into the world of magic, wonder, and awe I grew up in. Such an escape from the Muggle realm does not register as an annoyance, I am twenty-one years old and still welcome the Wizarding world with open arms.  My best friends were Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the adventures we shared I will not soon forget.

I am writing this on behalf of the children who are currently not getting the chance to dive into the Harry Potter universe, an adversity ultimately robbing them of the million little connections throughout their lifetime. This harsh reality is being made possible through the efforts of various organizations and parent-affiliated groups. Their complaints about Harry Potter, along with thousands of other literary pieces, have caused the books to be stripped from libraries all over the Nation.

The intent behind such grievances is in many cases positive, often motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content, “offensive” language, or in the case of Harry Potter, the promotion of witchcraft. Although the preservation of a child’s innocence is something to be valued, the deprivation of that child’s intellectual freedom, and ultimately their childhood, is not. The responsibility of a child’s morality falls on the parents whom should be monitoring what their child is reading, not every child in America.

We are currently half way through Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harm of censorship. Thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community, the majority of challenged books do not reach “banned” status.

The David L. Rice Library and I invite you to celebrate your intellectual freedom by giving life to the very characters who influenced the life you live today. Free the fiction and be part of the movement forward because, a life without Harry Potter is a life without magic.

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