Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling

2012 Book 142: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale

Reason for Reading: This is my third book for Book Journey‘s blog tour for Banned Books Week, and this time I decided to try something familiar. Since Lostgenerationreader is having a Harry Potter readalong, I decided to join in and read the first HP book for Banned Books week. 🙂 This is probably my third time reading this particular book, but it will be my first time reading the series “in one go.”

My Review:
Harry Potter has been living with his neglectful and emotionally abusive parents ever since his parents died when he was a baby. But on his 11th birthday, everything changes. He finds out that his parents were a witch and a wizard and that he, himself, has been accepted to Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry. He is thrilled to feel comfortable and welcome for the first time in his life, but he soon discovers that not all the teachers at Hogwarts are looking after his best interest. Can Harry and his adventurous friends save the Sorcerer’s Stone from being stolen and used for nefarious purposes?

Of course, you all know the answer to that question. If you don’t, then you probably aren’t interested in the answer and I’m surprised you’ve gotten this far into my review. Any comments I make about my appreciation for this book will fade in the wake of the raving of others. Therefore, I’ll only comment on the Jim Dale narration (which was the narration released in the US, but which is apparently no longer for purchase–I’m not sure if they intend on putting out a different narration? Releasing the Stephen Fry narration in the US would be a kind, generous, and profitable move!) Jim Dale did a pretty good job on the narration–If I didn’t already have a very set impression of what all the characters should sound like, then I’d have been much more happy with this rendition. Unfortunately for Dale, however, most anybody who would listen to this audiobook today already has a very set impression of how a centaur should sound and how to pronounce “Voldemort.” This isn’t Dale’s fault, but I suspect his reading has been taken off the market because of these issues. However, I was quite able to ignore this rather amusing issue and enjoy the audiobook. 🙂 I will continue with the rest of the Dale narrations.

My comments on book banning

Harry Potter is #1 Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 AND #48 on 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999.  As several people commented, Harry Potter was banned for similar reasons as The Headless Cupid, which was my first Banned Books Week review. Parents are concerned that their (apparently not-very-bright and way-too-malleable) children will be driven to the darkside of the occult and Satan worship by this book. I’m afraid I have to disagree and say “that is hogwash.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had a very clear good vs. evil message. Loyalty, bravery, and camaraderie are emphasized as important traits in the characters of Harry Potter. Love stands out as pretty much THE most powerful force of good available to humanity. That seems to be a pretty healthy message, even to a fundamentalist Christian. On the other hand, “doing ANYTHING to succeed in life” is portrayed as an undesirable characteristic. Killing or taking advantage of the innocent is touted as the most sinful act possible. People whose views of good and evil have faded away to “there’s-only-the-weak-and-the-powerful” are portrayed as demented. Again, the views of “evil” that are communicated in this book are in fitting with Christian views. This is NOT a morally ambiguous book! So why are the fundamentalists so worried? Just because their kids might use their imaginations a little bit? 

13 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling

  1. I totally agree with you! I read the Harry Potter series when I was eleven, and it was exactly what I needed. =) A little fictional magic won't hurt (as long as discussed with your kid).


  2. Yes, discussing issues like this with your kids is the best way to have a good influence on them. Although this isn't something that worries me, I DO understand that some parents worry about their kids becoming interested in the occult. If that's the case, then discussing the issue with them will be a lot more valuable than saying “don't read that!!!” Unfortunately, that's opening up the possibility that the kids will go ahead and read the book–and just not tell their parents! That's a slippery slope of sneakiness that will break down communication.

    Communication is key to a healthy relationship with kids! 🙂


  3. Great post! I heartily agree. I'm a Christian and considered pretty dang traditional, and guess what? I ENCOURAGE people to read HP because there's just so many great lessons and morals in. It doesn't make sense that the prudish would ban it, and it makes even less sense that the progressives and atheists would. So, why is this book on the list again?


  4. Thanks for stopping by everyone!

    Jennifer: Me too. What rot.

    Liesel: I'm a reasonably traditional Christian, as well, but I'm not afraid of imagination.

    holdenj: Thanks

    Thebookienook: Actually, when I told people on LibraryThing that I was about to read this book, that exact subject came up and there was one other person who shame-facedly admitted that she hasn't read the book YET (as opposed to not wanting to read it at all). You're a dying breed, but you're not the last! 🙂


  5. I (said proudly with a hint of snobbery) read each book in this series as soon as it came out. I even own all of them. I didn't quite go stand in line at the book store, but I had every one of them (except the first one) within the first week of its release. Ditto for the movies.

    I, too, am a Christian and I agree that these books express Christian ethical values. The ultra conservatives who are so against them have never really read them or seen the movies. They heard “witches” and “magic” and immediately closed their minds to all else.


  6. I listened to the Stephen Fry editions and enjoyed them a lot. BUT I've also heard great things about Jim Dale. Too bad that the audiobooks he worked so hard on are so difficult to come by 😦

    Seriously, any kid (and adult!) can enjoy this story and take away life lessons, regardless of their personal beliefs! Boo banning!


  7. I didn't know any of the Harry Potter books had made it onto the banned books list… Well, I guess you learn something new every day! Can you believe I've never read them? Shockign, isn't it?! I've sen the first two movies though.


  8. Thank you for such a fantastic post, that i found really interesting! I am a huge fan of JK Rowling's epic Harry Potter series, that i have grown up with from a young age hence i was quite suprised to find it on the 'Banned Books list'. There is so much meaning behind these books and a lot within book 1, hence i feel that anyone can learn a lot through reading something that is thought-provoking to the core.

    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk


  9. Chinoiseries: Yes, Dale worked very hard on these audiobooks and it's a shame that they've been taken off the market. It's possible that they are pulling one of Disney's moves and just pulling the product off the market in hopes that when they release it again it'll make a huge splash. But that seems unlikely…the longer they keep the Dale version off the market, the more fervently people will want the Fry edition released instead. 😦

    Nikki-ann: They made a pretty huge splash with the ultra-conservative book banners. I laughed about it at the time, but really, book banning isn't funny.

    Miss. Lucinda Fountain: Agreed. The “right” morals are all there, so what's the problem?!

    *sigh* Of course a lot of the people who made the biggest noise about this book never actually read it. They only heard what it was about and said “NO!!!”


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