Fantasy books “can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children” and lead to mental illness, writes Graeme Whiting, headmaster of the private Acorn School in England.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Terry Pratchett’s novels “contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult behaviour in children,” wrote Whiting in a post that’s gone viral. “Yet they can be bought without a special licence.”
Whiting wants “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.”
He praised the “old-fashioned values of traditional literature,” such as Shakespeare, Keats, Dickens and Shelley.
“Beware the devil in the text!” Whiting concludes. “Choose beauty for your young children!”
I loved fantasy books when I was a kid, though I didn’t go from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings till I was in sixth grade. I think my brain survived. But, then, I wouldn’t know if it hadn’t, would I?
As a child, Neil Gaiman was allowed to read whatever he liked, he tells the Guardian. Somehow that’s not a surprise.
“I definitely haven’t been traumatised for life and I’m not entirely sure if the subversive element made things enjoyable,” says Gaiman. “Except possibly in Chaucer and The Bible, where you’re actually discovering murder and masturbation – and you’re going ‘this is cool, this is subversive, because it’s the stuff they want us to read and they seem to have forgotten that it’s filled with stuff that they don’t want us to read’.”
We read Canterbury Tales in 10th grade English and were astounded — and delighted — by the dirty jokes. Finding sex jokes in Shakespeare was fun too.