Dear Rabbi and Susan,
I’m an orthodox Jewish homeschool mom of five and I love your show! Our homeschool curriculum focuses heavily on reading good literature and my kids have just reached the age where Edward Eager’s tales of magic, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as many others in the fantasy genre are on many recommended reading lists.
I’m unsure of how to approach the element of magic in children’s stories. The Torah forbids witchcraft, so should stories that feature magic be anathema to my Torah-observant kids?
Thanks for the great materials you produce. I consider them part of my continuing education. 🙂
We’re delighted that you watch our show and that you are homeschooling. As you may know, we homeschooled for many years and a number of our grandchildren are now being homeschooled as well.
Some of our children were the intended audience age when the first Harry Potter book came out. This book became a major topic of discussion among both the Jewish and Christian homeschoolers we knew. More than any other topic we can think of, the families we knew (and respected) were all over the map on this one.
Approaches ranged from an absolute ban on reading any sort of fantasy to those who couldn’t see any problem whatsoever with the genre. Our view was somewhere in the middle. We made a judgment call and will share some of our considerations, but we would like to emphasize that each child and his surroundings need to be taken into account. Unlike certain questions, such as whether a child should call a parent by his first name where the answer is clear cut (absolutely not!), this question has a lot of room for knowing an individual child, the specific book, subjectivity and praying for Godly wisdom.