NORWICH, Conn. -- You know the Harry Potter books, but do you know what they're teaching kids?
In addition to good versus evil, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has several other themes brewing as the boy wizard and his friends battle the evil Lord Voldemort.
Harry, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley face tumultuous times that foster self-sacrifice, jealousy and compassion, making friendship a strong theme of the popular book series, which concludes Saturday with the final installment, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
Master social worker Pat Carl-Stannard of Branford said friendship is an important element of the Harry Potter books.
"Harry Potter has different friends that offer different things. Our friends aren't supposed to be identical to us," said Stannard, who used Harry Potter's friendships as an example to a child who tended to be overly involved in one friend.
"A consistent theme is the power of friendship," Stannard said. "Friendship can be as strong as family. I think it's a theme children in my practice have picked up on."
The power of love, most especially a mother's love, also is a potent theme in the books. Harry received protection from his mother, who died defending him as a baby from Lord Voldemort.
Because of his mother's selfless act, Harry has a force field of protection around him that Voldemort cannot defeat.
The love of the mother that defies death, defies time and continues to surround Harry is a theme that appeals to mothers who read the series.
"Of course, as a mother, I love that. And I think that love prevails and family is the most important, the most powerful, and that's significant," said Lori Accuosti, a master social worker who has a practice in Waterford and works at Guilford High School.
"Through every book and every movie, I make sure that I explain that, yes, bad things happen, but Harry's going to be OK because people love Harry, and when you love, it all works out in the end," said Monique Podvojsky of Norwich, a Harry Potter fan and mother of three girls, Sydney, 10, Sarah, 8, and Samantha, 3.
It's the ups and downs in life that make Harry Potter books a good example for children, Accuosti said.
"He's a down-trodden kid," Accuosti said. "He's told by his aunt and uncle that he's a bad, defective child, and then he goes to this world where he finds strength to become a hero.
"In that way, it teaches kids, no matter where you come from and no matter who you are, that you have the potential," she said. "Everyone has positive attributes and the potential to succeed."
Mothers and child psychologists also embrace the positive choices Harry Potter makes.
"I want them to walk away from the entire series with the understanding that basically love can conquer all," Podvojsk said. "Hopefully J.K. Rowling feels the same as I do and is more than willing to end the books accordingly."
Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin