Opinion

Harry Potter unscathed

The best-selling Harry Potter books usually are characterized as fantasy, and it's safe to say that even the books' younger fans don't believe that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry actually exists outside of the books' covers.

That, however, does not deter the book-banners. With the numerous challenges to J.K. Rowling's series about the young wizard-in-training and his fantastical adventures, the books are now, according the American Library Association, the most challenged texts of the 21st century.

Thankfully, Harry and friends have survived all these attacks, including the latest one in Gwinnett County, Ga. Laura Mallory, who has two children in the county's public schools, had sought to have the Harry Potter books removed from the schools' libraries.

Why? Because, she said, they promote witchcraft, which some regard as a religion.

"They don't want the Easter Bunny's power," Mallory said. "The children in our generation want Harry's power, and they're getting it."

We're not sure if she means that literally. We haven't seen any kids whizzing around on brooms or casting spells.

At any rate, her arguments failed to convince a superior court judge during a recent hearing. The judge upheld an earlier ruling by the state Board of Education that said the schools were justified in stocking school shelves with Harry Potter books.

Mallory has been trying to ban the books from school libraries since August 2005. She now plans to get a lawyer and continue her quest.

We can only hope that she will be rebuffed by the courts -- or that some aspiring young wizard finds the right incantation to turn her into a toad.

The Mallorys of the world, who would consign Harry Potter to wherever books go after they are banned, are a little late. The series -- consisting of seven, count 'em, seven books -- have been translated into 63 languages. They have sold more than 325 million copies.

The seventh, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be released on July 21, and millions of eager young readers can't wait to get their hands on a copy. Publishers have printed a record 12 million copies for the first run in the United States alone. The success of the series has made Rowling the richest author in literary history.

Do these books affect the imaginations of impressionable young readers? We certainly hope so. We hope those budding imaginations expand and soar when they read about Harry Potter's adventures.

Parents should be thankful that kids are reading anything at all. With all the other diversions and distractions available to them, a book might not seem so appealing. With luck, however, Harry Potter will entice young readers to pick up other books.

Now, that would be quite a feat of wizardry, perhaps beyond even the powers of the Easter Bunny.

IN SUMMARY

Harry Potter books have survived a challenge by an offended mother in Georgia.

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