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Parents Protest Harry Potter Books

October 12, 1999

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Children clamor for the three best-selling books about Harry Potter, but not everyone loves the fictional orphan who attends a school for wizards.

A group of parents on Tuesday persuaded the South Carolina’s Board of Education to review whether the books should be allowed in schools, complaining that they are too violent for children. Parents elsewhere have raised similar objections.

``The books have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil,″ said Elizabeth Mounce of Columbia, one the parents who addressed the board Tuesday.

The board said it was up to local school districts to decide whether the books are appropriate, but agreed to review them.

``Censorship is an ugly word, but it is not as ugly as what I’ve heard this morning,″ said board member Clarence Dickert, one of those who wants a review.

The stories, written by British author J.K. Rowling, outline the education of young Harry, an English wizard at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The first book in the series, ``Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,″ has spent 42 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list for adult fiction.

More than 5 million hardback copies of the books have been sold in the United States and millions more are in paperback, said Judy Corman, spokeswoman for Scholastic Division.

More than 50 people waited at a suburban Boston bookstore Tuesday to meet Rowling. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tom Trotter, manager of The Happy Bookseller in Columbia, which sells about 100 Harry Potter books per week _ when he can keep them in stock _ said ``children who hate to read have started their own book clubs.″

``If you fear Harry Potter, you should fear 50 percent of children’s classics,″ he said.

The parents in South Carolina aren’t the only ones who have complained about Harry Potter.

In Marietta, Ga., elementary school principal Jerry Locke recently asked a fifth-grade teacher to stop reading the books in class until the school decided whether they were appropriate.

``It’s questionable whether every parent wants their child to read or be exposed to books having to do with magic and wizardry,″ Locke said.

A handful of parents at a Lakeville, Minn., elementary school also objected, but the principal said it was up to teachers whether to continue reading Potter’s tales to their students.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., however, sixth-grade reading teacher Bonnie Kiesow said she was amazed at the enthusiasm she saw among her students.

``Their parents are running all over town trying to find the book. I’ve had kids who said, `My mom couldn’t believe it because I don’t sit down to read for two hours,‴ she said. ``This is just fun to see.″

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