The Harry Potter books, as well as those from Lord of the Rings and other children’s stories, have been labeled unhealthy for young minds and should require a license to purchase. This is the general conclusion that Graeme Whiting, headmaster at the independent Acorn School in Nailsworth, Gloucester, has come to.
It’s not just books of fantasy about wizards and such that Whiting believes will make children “mentally ill,” but also The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and many modern fiction must-reads. He also cited Terry Pratchett, author of the long-running Discworld series, but he appears to be targeting just about everything considered fiction written for children and young adults.
Reading Harry Potter books makes children MENTALLY ILL, says headmaster https://t.co/29Tljcy4ig
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) May 6, 2016
While it might not be in direct relation to Whiting’s conclusion, there have been fan theories about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books which center on the titular character actually being mentally ill. One of them involves him having grown up abused by his parents and imagining the whole thing as a form of escape. Another fan theory involves him actually going to a mental health clinic for violently deranged children, where he suffers the delusion of being the most important person at a school for wizards and witches.
J.K. Rowling has shot down all fan theories, though she has said that fans are free to believe what they like about the Harry Potter series, even if some of those theories are a bit disturbing.
Many of these stories feature children breaking away from the social norm to take on a larger world full of dangers, though Lord of the Rings used hobbits, and Bilbo didn’t really choose to leave the shire the first time. Graeme Whiting doesn’t appear to care about any of this and only sees these works of fantasy as dangerous.
“I want children to read literature that is conducive to their age and leave those mystical and frightening texts for when they can discern reality, and when they have first learned to love beauty.”
“Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett, to mention only a few of the modern world’s ‘must-haves,’ contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult [behavior] in children; yet they can be bought without a special [license], and can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children, many of whom may be added to the current statistics of mentally ill young children.”
Children’s fantasy stories have seen similar reactions from those in religious communities as well. Many Christian leaders believe that the works of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien will teach children about witchcraft and eventually make them worship Satan. Whiting instead believes that the books about Harry Potter and other fantasy realms actually damage the minds of children.
“Buying sensational books is like feeding your child with spoons of added sugar, heaps of it, and when the child becomes addicted it will seek more and more, which if related to books, fills the bank vaults of those who write [insensitive] books for young children!”
“Children are innocent and pure at the same time, and don’t need to be mistreated by cramming their imagination that lies deep within them, with inappropriate things.”
Instead, Whiting suggests that children should keep to the classics such as those of Shakespeare and Keats. Of course, the irony in this is that Keats’ works (Lamia) include violence, ghosts, and demons, and Shakespeare really isn’t much better. Hamlet contains bloody violence among family members, Romeo and Juliet ends in two teenagers killing themselves, and those are among the most popular.
Do you agree with Graeme Whiting that young adult fiction such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings is making children mentally ill?
[Feature image via Harry Potter/Warner Bros. Pictures]