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Even if there are controversies about them, Enid Blyton books are great reads for kids. Here are some reasons why.
I have grown up reading books by Enid Blyton. After so many years, I am still an ardent fan of hers and love reading her books. They laid the foundation of my love for books and I simply adore them.
For the past couple of years, her books had lost the charm and admiration among young readers (or may I say ‘reading’ itself had lost its charm; blame it on the boom in technology based entertainment like TV, video games or play stations) but they are again experiencing a comeback.
Her books have been among the world’s best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. They have been enormously popular and even have been translated into almost 90 languages.
However, after enjoying huge popularity and commercial success, Enid Blyton’s work became increasingly controversial among literary critics, teachers and parents from the 1950s onward. Her books were perceived to lack literary merit and have also been criticised as being elitist, racist, sexist and xenophobic among the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain.
Enid Blyton books were never out of print, nor ceased to sell. But to address criticisms levelled at her work, some later editions have been altered to reflect more liberal attitudes towards issues such as race, gender and the treatment of children.
While the critics may have found her work questionable (they certainly have their reasons), I have always found her books a delight to read.
Here are 5 reasons why I strongly feel you should read her books to your kids:
As a writer, I strongly endorse the theory of ‘showing instead of telling’. As a kid, I was not aware of all these theories, but one thing was for sure that whenever I read a book by her, I could simply see myself wandering with the characters in the valleys, islands and caves solving a mystery with them.
Yes, the vivid description and imagery were so strong and beautiful that one could see the whole book like a motion picture. Reading is good for enhancing imagination power and what can be better than Enid Blyton’s books to have a strong imaginative mind?
Her books are simple and easy means to imbibe moral values and life lessons into children. Elizabeth from “The Naughtiest Girl” series is mischievous, naughty; but at the same time she has values that stop her from doing anything wrong.
One sentence “We are British, we cannot do anything wrong” is one loud and clear message from all the books that teach us to take pride for our country. Even if you are not British.
Her books create courage and bravery in kids. In my view horror and ghost stories make children weak and fearful. But Enid Blyton books, especially the adventure series books teach them how to emerge victorious from an unfavourable situation.
Team spirit is the key to come out triumphant from any crisis is the message from all the books.
And here are the bonuses:
One major bonus for reading her books is the descriptions of foods. She makes the simplest of food sounds so tasty that one looks forward to eating and relishing those. Sandwiches, tongue, ginger cake, ginger beer mentioned in most of the stories sound so mouthwatering. Even cookies, hard boiled eggs and mashed potatoes are described in such a manner that you feel like jumping from your seat and getting a plateful for yourself. Too bad when I was a kid I didn’t know what most of the dishes taste like. There is something terribly Enid Blyton-ish about ginger cake and I have always imagined myself enjoying it with her characters.
Well I don’t suggest that you send your kids off for a night on a deserted island somewhere or to solve mysteries by themselves. However, her books are perfect for encouraging a sense of adventure in children.
Today our idea of having fun and hanging out with friends is going out for a movie or loitering at a mall or Cafe Coffee Day while everyone stares into their respective smart devices. Enid Blyton’s books re-iterate the idea of having a picnic with friends and family in a peaceful outdoor setting. Many might disagree, but I personally very much enjoy such outings.
There is a certain amount of simplicity in her books. The kids in her books are intelligent and courageous yet they are simple, innocent and unadulterated.
In the end, I would like to say that these books were written a long time ago when people were very different. We only write what we see or experience around us. Children don’t notice these nuances like we adults do and as long as you bring them up with the right ideals they will be fine.
I have grown up reading her books and trust me all I remember is the good things I have mentioned in this article (well there are many more but it is not possible to include all in a single article). I love Enid Blyton and her books, not only as a child but as a mature adult too, and have thus far managed to avoid being a racist or sexist. I really don’t see it as an issue.
Image source: Famous Five books by Shutterstock.