A school principal has made a bold claim that reading Harry Potter and similar fantasy novels can lead to mental illness. Graeme Whiting, who heads up The Acorn School in England, made the accusation in a blog post titled The Imagination of the Child where he laments a lost age of children reading the classics like Dickens, Wordsworth, Keats, Shakespeare, and Shelley.
In the post Whiting names Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones (not really aimed at kids anyway), The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett as culprits and calls them "mystical and frightening texts." He thinks that young children shouldn't be reading them because they have "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."
It's kind of hard to take him seriously when he also says that kids don't have thinking brains until the age of 14. He also writes about these fantasy books being sensational then goes on to say that buying them for your kid 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." A pretty sensationalist claim itself.
It basically sounds like the ramblings of a man out of time, someone from a different cultural epoch and place, a place where the occult lurks in books about a boy wizard to corrupt children and damage their oh-so-sensitive imaginations.
A lot of authors and fans naturally took to Twitter to mock Whiting's claims and defend the novels that he thinks are so damaging.
It's a pretty ridiculous blog post, but interesting reading nonetheless. You can check it out in full here, but it can pretty much be summed up by the GIF below.