To my younger readers

It’s fascinating how vocal folks are about my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There’s a couple interesting themes that are emerging. Rather than clutter that post with more discussion, I thought I’d open up another one where the talk about the reviewers can be separate from the talk about the review.

First off, there’s the concept of “I did it, therefore it’s OK for everyone.” Kids are great with this line of reasoning because they turn it on and turn it off when it suits them. When mom or dad says something like “when I was your age, I did such and such and I was fine” kids don’t want to hear it. The fact that their mom or dad did something at age 13 is totally irrelevant to them at age 13. On the other hand, several young commentators have said that since they were able to read the book, it’s obviously fine for all 13-year-olds (or 11-year-olds, or whatever the author’s age is). This is not a case where proof by example works.

Now I’ll make some comparisons that seem completely unrelated, but they’re not. There are people who smoke and do not get cancer. There are people who do drugs and do not get caught and do not have major health problems. There are people who get in car accidents when they’re not wearing their seat belts, but they survive with little or no injuries. There are examples of all kinds of things that you should not do on a regular basis, but yet someone gets away with it just fine. There are probably plenty of 13-year-olds who can handle the Deathly Hallows just fine. The existence of some does not mean that it is good for all.

Secondly, let me try to make one final point clear. (I’m about ready to give up on this point as one that is too subtle for younger readers). The fact that you can read the book, that you understand what it says, does not mean that it is good for you to read it. There are all kinds of things that you can find—online, in print, at movie theatres—that you would fully comprehend. That doesn’t mean that it’s good for you to learn those things at this age.

Finally, if you want to go on record as a representative of your age (i.e., “I can read it so everyone my age can”) then learn to write. Otherwise, we’ll all conclude “well, maybe 13-year-olds can read, but they sure can’t write.” Don’t go down on record as the illiterate representative who cannot spell, cannot use punctuation, and who types on a computer keyboard as if she were typing on a phone.