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Should I Let My Son Read Harry Potter Stories?

Summer break brings the return of heated questions like: Isn’t the Harry Potter series demonic? How can we respond when our children prove sensitive to certain books?
on Jun 6, 2024 · 1 comment

Summer break brings many heated questions to parents who now need stuff for their children to read. So even while our friend Marian Jacobs is creating her book-length answer to these questions, we still hear challenges like these:

  • Isn’t the Harry Potter series kind of demonic?
  • How can we respond when our children prove sensitive to certain stories?
  • Are some practices such as deliverance needed to prevent spiritual oppression from stories?

As a conversation-starter, I’ve edited and enhanced this article based on personal correspondence—and added many further resources to help.

Hallo, [parent]!

Great to hear from you. As you can tell, I have a special interest in these topics.

I can’t recall where I would have listed Harry Potter on my profile, though. Yet I have read the books and consider myself a man who enjoys them, even if I much prefer excellent Christian-made fantastical stories.

Do you think Christian kids should be reading it?

Big question. I’ve seen good parents asking that big question since the 1990s when the Harry Potter books began coming out (at that time, I was an early teenager).

Depends on the kid.

For instance, if your kid is feeling overstimulated by several fiction ideas and imaginations, and/or spiritually troubled, and/or tempted to some kind of sin, then I’d say no way.

In that case I think it would be like a food allergy if nothing else. … Avoid the stuff until, maybe, such time as your growing precious one is gifted or mature enough to explore such things, if he/she wants to do so and can do this without feeling real temptation.

Once upon a time, I found the Restricted Section

I remember when I was a lad, and I read some Fairy Tale Classics I had found on our shelf (probably inherited from a relative).

That night I had bad dreams and felt, well, “haunted,” not by demons but by pictures of scary stuff.

I had similar struggles with the scary stuff in an animated series called Superbook. But the series was, mostly, an adaptation of Bible narratives, such as Moses killing the Egyptian guard and fleeing from Egypt. Somehow that story’s picture of Moses doing this scared me a lot.

In that case, my parents did not do deliverance or things like that. They cautioned about the book, and maybe recommended “fast-forwarding” (VCRs!) through the Superbook scary parts.

I’m glad I did, because to this day I get to think about the Bible as absolutely true but also a spark for God-given imagination. (After all, the series had time-traveling kids and robots, and I was able to learn to tell the difference between the fantasy and the reality!)

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Harry Potter doesn’t tempt me to dark magic

I can say about the Harry Potter series that, for me, I have not been tempted to any sins by the stories. Nothing in my own background makes me vulnerable to the idols behind real-world occult practice, that is, trying to use forbidden rituals to control my world or my future.

That’s why God forbids these evil actions in Deut. 18, but then comforts His people by promising He will send His prophet from among them to help them, and that prophet is Jesus.

In the HP series, we get a lot of legends and myths and creatures packed into one world, but no actual spells or pagan rituals.

Famously, J. K. Rowling, while not a Christian, has a lot of respect for biblical ideas and even her Christian readers. Even now, she’s on the front lines opposing the transgender cult and standing up against progressivism and the media. These, too, are themes from the HP series, which makes it clear she truly believes in a lot of good stuff.

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Practice your defense against the dark arts

So if I recommended the series, especially the later novels, I would say it’s best mainly for older readers. Just like I wouldn’t let a small child use bleach to clean a floor, or light a fire with matches, so I wouldn’t expose a young or sensitive child to the powerful ideas and images of this series.

And I’d say the same for other stories that are even better, by Christian authors, but that have ideas or images that might be too much for them. (Like the biblical account of Moses killing the Egyptian, or the Song of Solomon, or Judges 19, or Revelation 19.)

My coauthor for The Pop Culture Parent, Ted Turnau, had some great things to share in his chapter about “Discerning Your Child’s Hidden Heart.” He shares a story about one of his daughters, who has now grown, and her struggles with depression and “dark stuff” that led to them needing to give specific guidance about the kinds of stories she enjoyed.

Anyway, right now this is kind of funny to me, because I’m in a pretend “battle” about fantasy stories versus sci-fi stories on social media. Several solid Christian authors are having fun pretending what “side” they’re on. And I’m joining the sci-fi side, partly because my first novel (for adult readers) releases next year about the first missionaries in space. So perhaps, if fantasy ideas and monsters are not healthy for your son (at least not yet), he might prefer reading some age-appropriate sci-fi!

If that’s helpful, holler back, and I’ll share some links that might match, all from Christian authors, and maybe even better if my friends at Lorehaven have reviewed them.

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E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. Peter says:

    I appreciate the thoughts on this – and even better, going deeper into what’s in the child’s heart. That goes beyond “is this good/bad/indifferent” into “what will trigger in the heart”. I know my youngest doesn’t do “creepy” well. Any hint of something that can get creepy is an instant “nope” for reading. It doesn’t matter if it resolves to something not-creepy at some point or not. It’s enough to have her stop. Sadly, that can even go into a name of a character.

    Checking the other articles now for some ideas and possible reading material.

What say you?