Head Teacher says reading Harry Potter causes brain damage: ‘Beware the devil in the text!’

A British Head Teacher has said reading fantasy books such as Harry Potter causes mental illness and brain damage in children, and they should be reading classics instead

Harry POtter Trio laughing snow

by Hayley Kadrou |
Published on

While most of us love Harry Potter maybe a little more than we should - rereading the series and listening to the audio books, counting down the days until Fantastic Beasts hits the cinema, taking quizzes to find out which character we are – one UK principal doesn’t quite feel the same about all things magical.

In fact, he’s gone so far as to say our obsession with the wizard world will lead to us all getting brain damage.


Graeme Whiting head of the independent Acorn School in Nailsworth, Gloucester, explained in a recent blog post that Harry Potter should be struck from children’s bookshelves, in place of poetic classics such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Keats.

The post reads:

“I want 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.”

We admit He Who Must Not Be Named is frightening, but we think we made it through the seven-part series relatively unscarred.

But it’s not just J.K Rowling’s creation he’s trying to take down, but all fantasy books – from JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings to Philip Pallman’s Dark Materials.

Yep, that cuts a lot of highly acclaimed books off our reading least if we heed his advice.

The Head Teacher went on: “Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett, to mention only a few of the modern world’s ‘must-haves’, contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult behaviour in children.

“Yet they can be bought without a special licence, and can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children, many of whom may be added to the current statistics of mentally ill young children."

Despite the fact that literally hundreds of millions of us have been reading such novels for generations, and carrying on life pretty much normal, we’re not sure his claim holds water.

Nevertheless, he continued with conviction:

“Buying sensational books is like feeding your child with spoons of added sugar, heaps of it, and when the child becomes addicted it will seek more and more, which if related to books, fills the bank vaults of those who write un-sensitive books for young children!”

That we’ll take – we are totally addicted to reading, especially exploring the possibilities of other worlds and universes. Whoops.

Mr Whiting explains that the ‘lies’ such books fill imaginations with, will only take away from children’s innocence and purity. Instead the ‘old-fashioned values of traditional literature’ should be prioritised over ‘demonic’ writings.

As much as his concern over children is touching, we’d point out to studies such as this one, which proves reading Harry Potter makes children less prone to prejudice and more empathetic; and other shows that expose us to fanasties such as Harry Potter improves children’s creativity.

But according to Whiting, children should avoid all aspects of fantasy and focus on writing that only focuses on reality, such as William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of course.

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