Banished Books or Nifty Novels?

In class today,we  briefly brazed over the topic of scientists not liking the fantasy world of Harry Potter, but some scientists do, depending on if they have offspring. Scientists cannot fathom the concept of flying brooms, magical potions, and strange creatures. Well hello people, it's just for our entertainment, not actually real. Debates have been raised over the past so manharry-potter-with-wand-wallpaper.jpgy years, since Harry Potter has been written, whether or not kids should be allowed to read these fictitious novels. It teaches them all about witch craft and wizardry, typically the likes of the devil.Parents around the world have skeptics about whether these books can harm a child's brain and twist their mind process. But by reading books like these, kids keep their brains thinking and wanting to read more. These books take us to a world of our own, where we can get away from the norm and pretend to be whomever we want. Sometimes we just need to have a mind of disbelief to get through our days' hard work and fantasize about something other than our own troubles. 


You know, I can understand the escapism argument. But my own feeling is that there are so many interesting real things going on in the world and in literature, and life is short....fantasy, schmantasy.

I know. A geek.

The good news is the Harry Potter series garnered enough attention from a widespread audience that it got children/people reading who may not otherwise have done so. Because of that widespread interest,the Harry Potter craze has also been used to attract children to summer science camps like Gee Wizards Science here at Penn State.

So....while I would agree there's a lot of interesting stuff going on and fantasy is not my favorite genre, the series has potentially had some positive impact on the number of children interested in science. As they learn more about science and the scientific process though, I would guess HP and his "magic" might lose their appeal!

I'll take this opportunity to plug the Banned Books exhibit currently hosted in the Diversity Studies Room of Pattee Library. The display features the Harry Potter books alongside many other well-known works (the dictionary?!) that have clashed with the rigorous moral standards of a few discerning school boards. A prelude to the American Library Association's "Banned Books Week", the event's subtitle argues that "freedom to read" is "freedom to think." As Susan pointed out above, these novels may be doing science a favor by generating a new generation of individuals curious about the explanations for phenomena in the natural world. After all, there's no harm dabbling in witchcraft.

On a sort of related note, for anyone who enjoys reading and is interested in a combination of science and history, I would suggest two of Dava Sobel's books: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time and Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love. In both books, you can get a pretty good sense of the trials of scientists in their search for answers/solutions and the effect of politics on what they were trying to accomplish.

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