Professors: Censorship of fantasy stories misguided

  July 25, 2003 at 4:05 PM ET
  James     Wizard News (via Dover Community News)

These professors write from a viewopens in new window repeatedly upheld by the justice system; that any attempts by parents to control the educational use of books fall well outside their constitutional rights.

Public school children are in no danger from the likes of Quiditch hero Harry Potter, say two University of New Hampshire education professors. And recent court decisions upholding the right of educators to use texts like the popular fantasy books in their classroom is important for teachers struggling to keep children reading.

In Harry Potter, Wizards, and Muggles: The First Amendment and the Reading Curriculum, published in a recent issue of Education Law Reporter, UNH professors John Carney and Todd DeMitchell argue – backed up by two circuit appeals court rulings – that constitutional challenges to the inclusion of fantasy stories in public school classrooms are misguided. Potter and his cohorts are helping many children enjoy reading.

"Fantasy is part of the child's world," the two professors say. "Teachers use a rich source of genres and characters to entice and sustain student interest in reading. Educators should not easily give up those tools that may help children just because someone disagrees with their decision."

Carney says that "it is often a challenge for teachers to find books that will motivate poor readers. The Harry Potter series is an example of how highly engaging literature - whether it be fiction or fantasy - can foster an interest in reading by even the most reluctant readers."


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