I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton, a side serving of Roald Dahl and a sprinkling of Dr Suess. I did read more, some books that I came across in school libraries and picked out and when I grew into a teen tried to read classics because I thought that was the cooler thing to do but devoured sweet valley romances, judy blume and got my hands on adult content on the sly and have always had a thing for sex in books. Guess where my mum had to explain to me about periods from and about sex way before time? You guessed it. Ok this got me thinking about I need to introduce age appropriate books.
This post is on books for kids, continuing in the line of the last 2 posts (and more to come).
So in the world of Enid blyton I read it all. starting from Noddy moving on to fairy stories, the magic Faraway tree and the wishing chair, the secret seven, famous five, the five findouters, the naughtiest girl in school series, Mallory towers, st claires the works. Today the scenario for kids books is very very different. While my mum didn’t have blogs to read or amazon to peruse, she made sure my bookshelf was filled with books she did know about.
I on the other hand can read about diverse books and order them in the spate of minutes. There are so many amazing books out there for kids today opening up their world, addressing issues of race, difference, gender, adventures, or feelings and thoughts.
Enid Blyton on the other hand addresses nothing. Its pure oldfashioned childish fun. Many parents today I know don’t feel the need for their child to read Enid Blyton. Its dated, sexist, racist and old fashioned. Kids have outgrown the need to read about goblins and pixies, their world is based on reality and current issues and parents want to squeeze as much messaging that they can into their day. But is that what kids want?
I mourn my old Enid Blyton collection. I was hoping that my kids could have read my books, unfortunately they were given away without my consent something that still makes me seethe. Our local library has loads of them and I intend to borrow them in the future for my kids. But I wonder if they are the newer editions. The newer printed ones have changed a lot of the nomenclature to be more appropriate in todays world where you cannot get away with a lot of the politically incorrect things Enid Blyton has written in the past. Fatty in the Five Outer series for example was nicknamed so because his initials were F.A.T. and also because of his size. In the new editions they have done away with any allusions to his body size and have focused on his intials being the reason for his nickname. But on the whole I am not sure whether all of it can be changed. The girls will be still helping in the kitchen and the boys will still be doing the more daring stuff. But are these reasons enough for kids to not read Enid Blyton? Is it better to let them read and then have a conversation about changing times instead?
The world she paints are full of innocence of childhood. Picnics, scones, teas with cakes, adventures, mysteries, mid night parties, tricks being played on each other in school, magic and other such escapades. While the world has changed kids have remained the same. If allowed the same sense of innocence and adventure would prevail, but the world around them has changed at such breakneck speed that they don’t have a choice but to keep up from a young age.
If you watch very young kids even today their sense of magic and their curiosity remains unchanged like kids throughout time. Enid Blyton’s books leaves these senses alive for longer. If they are given books like these over many of the movies and books involving pop culture their innocence maybe preserved for longer. I can always talk to my kids about gender and race earlier at home because they will get exposed to it in some ways. I’d rather that it stick out like a sore thumb in books like these so they can discuss it with me now rather than learning about things like this outside home.
I don’t plan on introducing Harry Potter to the kids till they are 11 or so unless ofcourse they pick it up themselves. The plot is really complex and I think these books they are reading are great stepping stones until they are ready.
My older son is woefully immature for a 7.8 year olds than many others I have seen. He watches cartoons and plays with soft toys compared to boys who have light sabers and watch Avengers. He may not make friends with boys his age but he seems quite ok in his innocent fantasy world. He may get teased but I feel he is ready to handle some of that too. His fun is super oldfashioned childhood fun oh and he loves Enid Blyton.
I didn’t plan on it, I too thought they’d be dated and inappropriate for today’s kids, but he got gifted a boxed set of the Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair last year. I read the Magic Faraway tree aloud to him and he so loved them! He was totally hooked, I didn’t expect him to be but he couldn’t get enough of Moonface, Silky, Saucepan man and the lands at the top of the tree. The Famous Five series is the first book he has read independently which is quite advanced and he does not want to stop. He shushes us if he is at a cliffhanger. And he cycles everyday around our building with my phone listening to audiobooks. I started the Naughtiest Girl in School audiobook for him and he refused to come up for over two hours listening to the book.
So while I have filled their bookshelves with all sorts of books from all the possible authors and many of the books are so amazing, I can see the look in his eye when he is reading Enid Blyton where he is transported to another world. Its something only the best books can do for you.
Yes she is still spinning her magic in our house.
Thanks for reading.
if you’re considering purchasing you should click on the links on my blog. That way I’l make a tiny bit of money from amazon and maybe buy more books! But even better than clicking on the links here is if you can buy from an independent bookstore.