An English and literature instructor from the University of Northern Iowa will give a lecture at this month’s Phoenix Rising conference in New Orleans — an event devoted to the Harry Potter phenomenon. UNI’s Gina Burkart says parents can use the popular series of novels about the boy wizard to open communication lines with their kids about sensitive subjects like morality.
Burkart says "I’m going to be giving a presentation about situational ethics and some of the role models — good and bad — in the Harry Potter books and how Harry gravitates to the positive role model of Dumbledore who, even when facing death, puts others before himself." She encourages parents to read the books too and use the examples from the fictional tale as a template for real life, helping kids learn right from wrong.
Burkart says "Our children need to realize that we have a higher standard that we can stick to and that you don’t let go of your principles, even in tough situations, and that’s a lesson I think that Harry takes out of the Harry Potter books." The fifth film in the series will be released in July, the same month the seventh and final book hits store shelves. Burkart says most adults will find the books as enthralling as their kids, and it’ll provide an excellent topic of conversation, instead of the same-ole’ "What did you do at school today? — Nothing" exchange.
Burkart says "They come to you and start talking about the books you’ve both read because you have a common ground and because the books have such rich issues, real life issues that our kids are facing, it’s all about bullies, it’s about school, it’s the stuff that they’re immersed in every day. Those topics naturally come out and you start talking about the characters but essentially, your talking about yourselves."
Burkart has written a book, "A Parent’s Guide to Harry Potter," which highlights parallels from the Harry Potter books to the Christian faith and encourages discussions about morality between parents and their children. Published in 2005, it’s been translated into several languages, including Indonesian, Chinese, Spanish and Philippine, and soon, Korean. The Phoenix Rising conference is slated for May 17-21 and will draw Harry Potter enthusiasts from around the globe — from fans to writers to academics.