PARENTS

Enid Blyton: Lashings Of Harmless Nostalgia, Or All Rather Horrid?

20/03/2011 00:10 | Updated 22 May 2015
No children's author quite divides opinion like Enid Blyton.

Parents either love her old fashioned, jolly hockey-sticks style, or regard her as outdated at best, bigoted (and even racist) at worse.

But there's no denying that over 40 years since her death, Enid's 700 plus titles are still a familiar sight on the nation's bookshelves.

Recent figures from Amazon.co.uk have her on the top ten best-sellers of the decade, and statistics from public libraries regularly put her in the top 10 most borrowed children's authors.

This summer, books from her Famous Five series - first published in 1942 - have undergone 'sensitive' revisions, to make them, according to publisher Hodder, 'timeless' and as 'appealing and accessible to today's reader' as when they were originally written.

Enid's granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, has written the foreword for the new editions, and supports the updates, saying they have been 'gently polished to make them fit for the 21st century', adding there are no 'artificial additives' such as computers or mobile phones. They firmly remain four children and dog saving the world and finding treasure,' she says. But what do parents make of Blyton and her relevance to children today? Should her works be updated, or 'polished', or just enjoyed for what they are, old-fashioned children's adventure stories?

'I don't think they should be updated,' says Lucy, mum of two pre-school boys, 'I love the archaic slang and to my son, it's just new words. I much prefer 'you are a hoot, old thing' to LOL! I think anything that gets kids reading is good, no matter how rubbish it seems.

'There's a knack for writing stuff that kids read and she had it. I've heard of parents banning Blyton. Supposedly liberal parents banning books. Ridiculous.'

Mum-to-be Celia agrees: 'I love how when I was a kid I just totally accepted things like 'ten bob' without having the faintest clue what it was. I love how you sort of automatically remove situations to the modern day when you're a child anyway, which in my mind is evidence alone that they don't need updating.' But Lynley, mum to a five-year-old son, is firmly against the texts, revised or not, despite once being an EB devotee: 'I was a huge Enid Blyton fan as a child and absolutely loved and adored reading her,' she says, 'Then when I was about 11, I realised they were absolute rubbish. Maybe it was down to that whole moving from being a child to an adult thing.

Or maybe it was our teacher reading a book out loud one day during story time - she got a few pages into a Famous Five story before stopping and asking 'seriously, you want to read this?'. We all shook our heads. It was simply the most appalling writing ever, and I remember feeling really shocked. Why had I not noticed it before?

I went home and binned my entire collection.

On that basis, I definitely won't be encouraging my son to read them - he's young enough for me to discreetly direct him away from them at the moment, and when he gets older if he does want to borrow them from the library I'll explain that I don't like them. But having said that, I wouldn't stop him - and I'd read them to him if he asked me. I can't say it will be with any enthusiasm though!'

What do you think?

Did Enid Blyton foster your love of reading?

Will you introduce her books to your children? Or is she outdated and irrelevant in 2010, 'polished' or not?

Suggest a correction