It will come as no surprise that someone writing a blog as an adult was a big reader growing up. My mother was a librarian so I had the pleasure of binge-reading literal piles of books, often hiding up a tree or tucking myself away from the rush of the household. Still to this day if you give me a soft couch and a book I will curl myself up and fall into the storyline for hours.
Enid Blyton offered me the magic of her stories from a young age. There is a delightful English tinge to her prose that enchanted me just as much as the storyline. For me, it is truly remarkable when an adult can retain the curiosity, charm and sense of adventure from their childhood and communicate it in such a way.
Ms Blyton was born in 1897. She was a writer throughout her entire career, and was part of the generation that transitioned from handwriting to the typewriter. Her works have been translated into over 40 languages and it warms me to think that children of all different parts of the world can escape into the worlds built by Ms Blyton so long ago.
We can’t shy away from the fact that Ms Blyton’s works, when read today, possess the unmistakeable whiff of “sexism, racism, snobbery and xenophobia” (source). Ms Blyton was an author of her time and therefore held the views and prejudice of her time. I’m in two minds as to whether I would provide these texts to a child.
The first thought is that children are prone to influence and it may be detrimental to their social/cultural/community development to provide them with messages/imagery/communications contrary to that which are acceptable by today’s standard.
The second thought is that children are highly intelligent and if you are engaging with the child about what they are reading and why it mightn’t fly in today’s world then you are doing them a favour. You are exposing them to brilliant writing and starting a conversation that will be had throughout their entire life: bigotry and racism are unacceptable. Stereotypes are detrimental to our social development and cultural advancement. Communities are built strongest when they are built on acceptance and tolerance.
For me, Enid Blyton allowed me to escape into my own world and my own mind for hours on end. For me, Enid Blyton is a name that will always bring joy to me because well written children’s fantasy is a gift to an active imagination that cannot be taken away.
Ms Blyton passed away in 1968, just three months after the passing of her second husband. I am grateful to say I have been positively influenced and inspired by the works and curiosity of Enyd Blyton. She is yet another inspiring human that I am glad was on this planet, and who will stand the test of time in her influence and impact on the children of the world.
Thank you to the following sites: