When I was 11, the first Harry Potter novel was released. Like many conservative parents, mine were wary of a series featuring a young boy wizard as the primary hero. I never did read the series in my youth, but I did have to read them when I took a Harry Potter course in college. I went into the course concerned that I wouldn't like the series and came out on the other side a fan of the incredible work and detail that Rowling put into her works.
Last year, I met a young man who was reluctant to date me because I expressed a fascination with the HP series. This reaction surprised me in 2015, so many years after the initial backlash against the series. His reaction goes to show that some, even after so many years, find the series too controversial to let their children read. Perhaps because of my course in undergrad, I believe that this is the wrong approach to Rowling's series.
During my teen years, the Potter books were still being released and it was a popular discussion topic, this whole idea of HP and Christianity. Some argued since the series gets progressively darker and darker that perhaps, Christians should only read to a certain point in the series. Others thought that there was no harm in the series since we have to read dark things such as Frankenstein or Grapes of Wrath regularly in school. Certainly the books do contain the repeated themes of death, darkness, and hatred but in the midst of the books, a careful reader would discover such themes as love, friendship, forgiveness, and peace. Harry always is learning about himself and his family in the context of all of these themes.
The ironic thing about this series is that for every reader that claims that HP is related to the occult, you can also find many more writers that claim that Harry Potter is, in fact, a Christian series. While the author herself claims no connection in the series to Christianity, John Granger sees the series as highly symbolic of the Christian faith. As he sees it, Harry dies to himself literally or symbolically making him an ideal Christ figure. He also puts a great deal of stock in the fact that Matthew 6 is referenced on the graves of Harry's parents. Though Rowling has made it clear that young Harry, "did not understand what these words meant."
Some scholars have also argued that Harry Potter makes for an excellent series for children to read when mourning a loss. Speaking from experience, I would say this series and its protagonist provide a great deal of comfort when someone near you has passed. Certainly, through the storyline between Harry Potter and Snape, even the youngest of readers can observe that the memory of the lost are "always" with us.
"Books! And cleverness! There are more important things - friendship and bravery and - oh Harry - be careful!" The words of Hermione Granger stand out as a beautiful summary of the series. While the academics continue to pull apart the series page by page, the ultimate goal of the series, in my opinion, is to teach young reader that love is stronger than hate and that good overcomes evil in the end. Though I agree with Ms. Rowling that her series is not a Christian work, I do believe that these themes are things that most Christians should have no issues supporting.