I’ve actually wondered the same thing, both with LOTR and with the Narnia series – in which the children and other characters often make references to magic.
This is just a guess, but I think some of the problems people have with Harry Potter is that the books were not written as a Christian allegory AND they deal with witches and wizards. For some people that means they must be evil.
When I read the first three Harry Potter books to my son at bedtime, we had some great conversations about what Harry and the others could have done differently, and how characters’ choices had positive or negative results. The stories were simple enough that he got a lot out of them on a moral and spiritual level. But remember, we read them together and talked about them. He didn’t read them on his own.
Now we’re reading LOTR together, and it is waaaaaaay harder for me to make any Christian connections for him. I’ve always heard that LOTR were a Christian allegory, but I’m just not seeing it :shrug: And that was especially true of The Hobbit.
So in my opinion, Harry Potter has been just a way better teaching tool (only the first three books) than the first one-and-a-half books of the LOTR – and magical content has nothing to do with it.
Well, just my two cents.