Don't Take Away Our Harry Potter

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by Alan Ammann

fifth-grade teacher, julia randall elementary

Please, sir, don't take away our Harry. Before we stone, burn or embroider a scarlet HP on my chest, consider: If we condemn the movie, then alas we condemn the book. If we condemn the book, then we send a message to the millions of children who read and enjoyed the book, that what they enjoyed was wrong. We tell them that what arose in their fertile imaginations was wrong. Perhaps, if this was the first book they've enjoyed, we (would be saying) to them that reading is wrong.

At a time where we have too much TV, too many movies, too many computer and video games, and too much Internet magic, the cacophony of written words often pales (by) comparison.

J.K. Rowling does not need the money from the movie, even though she was a single mom on welfare when she wrote the book. She did something in allowing the movie to be made that few realize. There was an insistence on her part that the Hollywood makers of film follow her book. By doing so, everyone who has read the book easily finds a multitude of visions mission.

We were able to see this phenomenon go from written words on a page, through the creative process of characterization, scene setting and actions to a screen, all the while deriving their impetus from her words in a book.

The movie pales by comparison, but it was the best that Hollywood could do. Oz was a book before it was a movie, yet I only saw it as the latter. And surely we can't assault Dorothy for traveling there and landing on a witch. Nor the Munchkins that came alive before our eyes. Was this a story of wizardry, the demonic possession of red ruby shoes, an evil castle guarded by gargoyle-like flying monkeys or a tale, a fable, a fantasy, folklore, an opportunity to share in someone's imagination? This story came from writings, which would never have developed into one of our classics had we chosen to portray it as the dark side, an evil event.

Let's not forget Snow White's wicked witch and the potions that conjured up that (poisoned) apple, or King Arthur's Merlin, or even Samantha of "Bewitched."

With Harry Potter, the question is not whether we will support this epic ... but how can we best utilize it to get our children interested in reading even more? ...

Do we support animal sacrifice when in biology we dissect a live turtle? Is there one among us who would not want a doctor to perform their first razor incision on that turtle first? Aren't we supposed to encourage our young rather than handicap them with guilt.

Truly we have to be careful how we use words, even from the Bible, such as the phrase about "not imitating the detestable ways for the nation there." It was these very words that allowed the massacre and slaughter of the "savage" natives who lived in peace in this country before we Europeans came. Please don't make it so difficult for the young to grow.

Rest assured the fad will fade, (and) Harry will join the Dorothy, Snow White and King Arthur from an earlier time. But perhaps, just perhaps, before the magic fades, the light of inspiration will ignite a fertile imagination that craves more from words.

Perhaps it was an imagination that was lacking in those who chose to destroy life on Sept. 11, lest we not forget the earlier reality in Oklahoma. As a cloud before my eyes changes shape into castles and dragons, I am glad that my imagination was kindled through the great works of writers those who brought me to my enlightenment and showed me what those shapes could be, for it is from the imagination that spawns a love for all the intricacies of life.

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