National Reaction

While the Harry Potter series has gained international acclaim since the 1997 release of Philosopher’s Stone, it has also received heavy amounts of backlash. Parents especially have demanded the series be removed from their children’s schools, making the Harry Potter books a large part of the censorship debate. In the US alone, Harry Potter “made the list of the top 100 most frequently challenged books of the decade 1990-1999 (#48), even though they were only out for part of one year of the decade! And, of course, the series topped the most frequently challenged list of 2000-2009″ (Peters). As we can see in the interactive Storymap below, challenges to the Harry Potter books are not limited to the American South but instead span the entire nation.

Interestingly enough, while geographic region may not be a big unifier, the majority of censorship cases surrounding the Harry Potter series focus on religion (Peters). Claims that the series promotes witchcraft or Wicca appear to be the motivating factor which drives parental desire to have the books pulled from their children’s schools. Most challenges to the series occurred in its earlier years, when conversation surrounding Rowling’s books was at its height; while still present, contentions at this point have largely tapered off. We can see this decline in challenges to Harry Potter through its placement on the ALA’s “Top Ten Most Challenged Books” lists— while it tops the charts consistently in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, after 2003 Harry Potter slips out of the top ten and is no longer seen. That is not to say that the series is not still contested; Laura Mallory’s case to remove Harry Potter in Gwinnett County, GA proves that, while challenges to the books have dwindled, they are still present, especially the claim that Harry Potter promotes “real life witchcraft” (ALA).

Peters, Pat. “Harry Potter and 20 Years of Controversy,” last modified August 28, 2017.

“Top Ten for 2003,” ALA, accessed March 30, 2019,