There is a lot I like about the Harry Potter movie and books in a Grimm’s Brother-fairytale-kind-of-way. I love the music, the castle, the special effects. I love how the beaten-down kid sides with good over evil and wins.
Let me be candid, though. My son asked if he could be Harry Potter one year. I told him, “No. There are things in Harry Potter that if you do in real life can curse you.” Then I explained those things to him. Gothic sounding, maybe, but either the Bible is true or it is not. As for me and my house, we believe it is true.
That’s not my beef, here, though. My beef is two-fold, and like a good cake, one part folds into the other.
Harry Potter is a great example of the lack of good book choices for boys today. Students at one middle school could earn Accelerated Reader points for reading Harry Potter, but they couldn’t earn points for reading George Washington, American Boy, Davy Crocket, American Boy, or even Abraham Lincoln, American Boy. The librarian explained that while the school had funding for the tests for girl historical books, they didn’t have the funding for boys’ tests. My sons were free to still read the books; however, with the reading requirements for the AR program, they didn’t have the time. They had to read the AR listed books and take tests.. If studies show that the best way to learn history is through reading histories, then my boys were definitely dumbed down.
One of my 5th grader’s favorite books is The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin. It’s a story, historically-based, that instills nobleness, courage, and life is tough, but goodness can prevail ideas. It’s not some kind of cotton-candy book that devolves into silliness but inspires to greatness.
Our public school book shelves are thinned out due to the “Keep-Christianity-Out-Of-Our-Schools'” ideology. A lot of historical books are kept off of school bookshelves because they mention Christianity: G.S. Henty is probably one of them, an adventure writer for boys in the late 1800s.
However, Harry Potter, which tutors about Wicca, a recognized United States religion, is allowed on our shelves. I don’t want Harry pulled off the shelves, though. I want equal time for those books that promote the values I want instilled in my sons—There two thousand years of stories of heroes who shaped Western civilization, shaped by Christian values, whose stories are a) watered down to delete God, b) They are not stocked because Christian values are blatantly mentioned, or c) Writers just gave up!
It’s a shame that a Judeo-Christian nation lacks writers who can create great adventures of good over evil that inspire, that dazzle. British writers C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, and J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, have been the biggest sellers, movies and book reprints, in the 21st century. They are my personal favorites.
Trying to explain purpose to my classroom of college students one day, I asked, “What was Tolkien’s purpose for writing The Lord of the Rings?” One student answered, “To compete with J.K. Rowling.” I must admit, sadly, I had a good laugh at a student’s expense. As I watch the H.P. movies, I’m always amazed at how much she lifted from Tolkien and Lewis.
For a few years, I lived with miniature Legolases and Striders. As a matter of fact, the story line and characters promoted discussions about nobleness, selflessness, and even worthiness. I remember telling one son, who was wrestling with integrity and team-play (in the family), “Would Strider chose you to be in the fellowship? Does your behavior instill the values he needed?”
Where are the great American writers for our sons, writers who weave inspiration with values that are true to the American culture? And make boys eager, hungry to read!
I ask my college students to define their own personal culture. Ultimately, they initially write about what MTV and the media say, “America is materialistic, blah! blah! blah!”
I then ask, “Gee, are your parents materialistic? Do you consider yourselves materialistic?”
Stunned that someone would suggest their parents are materialistic, they say, “No.” Then I prompt them again to describe, define their own personal culture. Look at your neighborhood, your community, your family belief system–that’s your culture. Some eventually produce a wonderful definition of the culture they come from. Some can’t see beyond how the media has defined them, which is a shame.
Where are the great American writers for our sons? Writers who don’t sell out to media? Who aren’t afraid of the cultural values of most of America? Writers who inspire young boys to want to become men of great character who won’t go to Congress and ultimately cheat on their wives, take bribes, and sell out to their constituents? Men more like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln who stood up for the tough stuff!
I have been searching for 23 years for these types of books!
*If you have any recommendations, please list them for me! I’ll share them in a future post!