to read Enid Blyton with caution?

(241 Posts)
catandbabyequalschaos Tue 15-Oct-13 14:11:20

DD is only 11 months so this isn't an issue yet.

However, we have been given by a relative some old, beautiful sets of The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree, which I remember adoring as a young child.

Fast forward to now and I really have my doubts about them. It isn't just the blatant racism and sexism in them, but the way the children mercilessly bully anyone who isn't like them, the way names are chucked around carelessly and the references to spankings in so many of the books make me really uncomfortable too!

Have any of you not read Enid Blyton with DCs?

ephemeralfairy Tue 15-Oct-13 14:43:39

I remember at age 8 being ENRAGED at the casual racism/sexism in Blyton. I went so far as presenting a petition to the head teacher to get all Blyton books removed from the school library. I don't think I was successful but yes, kids are more critical than you might think.

moondog Tue 15-Oct-13 14:44:06

Loved MMM. Not Enid though.
Boarding school was actually pretty similar to EB books so you could say I lived the dream. No men in saucepans around, sadly. Not many men at all come to think if it....

Another we looked at recently was Five on Kirrin Island.
They row there and spend the entire w/end alone!

Oh I used to love Milly-Molly-Mandy when I was a child!

StanleyLambchop Tue 15-Oct-13 14:45:21

I think children can easily adjust to the fact that they are set in another era. My DC have not asked to be allowed to go off camping on their own during the summer holidays just because the Famous Five do. They also appreciate that many of the scrapes the children find themselves in would be avoided today as most people have mobile phones! It is not just Enid Blyton either. Swallows and Amazons is similar as in the children are largely unsupervised for most of the adventure, and the sexism of the girls having to do all the cooking/washing up. Poor baby Vicky is constantly called 'Fat Vicky' sad However it is a stonking good story though and my DC love it!

SaucyJack Tue 15-Oct-13 14:50:22

I think the fact that we all clearly remember how sexist and racist the books all were is A Good Thing, and shows that even as kids we all knew that some of the views expressed were not acceptable by modern standards.

I clearly remember myself Peter "ordering" Janet to pour the cocoa in the SS and I think I even moaned to my mum about what a bossy little prick he was.

Bowlersarm Tue 15-Oct-13 14:52:41

Oh I loved these books. I re read them recently. I still love them.

Just take them for what they are - books written in the past, in a certain period of time.

soverylucky Tue 15-Oct-13 14:53:02

DD adores the famous five. Like a pp said - she knows they were written a long time ago. There has only been one occasion when I have winced and it was a comment about gypsies. We talked about it and why you wouldn't say such things now. DD laughs at how the boys think that the girls can't do much.

EeTraceyluv Tue 15-Oct-13 14:54:43

She wrote one book called 'The Six Bad Boys' which was her attempt at 'social realism' all about a group of boys who come from terribly horrid homes and are bad 'uns. They meet up with a boy called Bob who has come from a good home but his mother gets divorced and starts leaving him alone - he gets very sad and joins the gang with the obvious consequences - and it all goes horribly wrong for him. Happy ending though when he is adopted by the lovely m/c family next door. Still makes me cry when I read it sad

curlew Tue 15-Oct-13 14:55:42

I see no reason for children to read Enid Blyton now. We read them as children because there wasn't much else to read. But they are incredibly badly written, sexist, racist, classist, jingoistic and every other sort of -ist there is going! And there are thousands of fantastic books for children now- why waste time on this formulaic dross? It only survives because of nostalgia.

moondog Tue 15-Oct-13 14:57:42

Not at all true.
They survive because people like them.

netsuke Tue 15-Oct-13 14:57:46

I always substitute Dick for Anne whenever she is cooking/cleaning, means that DD thinks boys do all the domestic chores in the famous five grin

Mcnorton Tue 15-Oct-13 14:58:50

I read these as a child in the early 80s, with no adult input and think I have grown up unscathed. I was quite shocked though when I read the faraway series to my son, who's 5, as I read my own old copies and the language and bullying is horrible. The kids are right pains in the bum! Son loves them though, and I either edit on the fly as I read to moderate the language (which is a pain but so far he hasn't noticed when I've been inconsistent - I've had to read the ruddy things repeatedly), or I comment on how rude the children are and he agrees. In that way we remain outside it and can enjoy the charming elements and not absorb the snooty/middle-class/slapping teacher stuff!

catandbabyequalschaos Tue 15-Oct-13 14:59:46

Perhaps this is the difference, that I read them myself and didn't have them read to me.

Quangle Tue 15-Oct-13 15:00:46

For Little Black Sambo readers, it has been rewritten as the Story of Little Babaji - same story but new illustrations. I loved it as a child and obviously had no awareness of the race element. All I could have told you was that the boy was cool because he turned the tigers into butter. Nevertheless I wouldn't have read it with my own DCs because of the title so I was delighted to find it renamed and re-illustrated. It's still fab and Babaji is still the hero. DCs love it.

HormonalHousewife Tue 15-Oct-13 15:01:17

Racism, bullying and sexism in the Faraway tree ?

Really ?

I thought it was a lovely book

curlew Tue 15-Oct-13 15:02:28

Why not just read your children good books?

moondog Tue 15-Oct-13 15:03:21

Loving the Dick for Anne swap.
Dick was always a bit of a non entity wasn't he?
George was a good 'un so argument on females being of little relevance doesn't really hold.
Same for Carlotta in Circus Days.
What a girl!

projectbabyweight Tue 15-Oct-13 15:05:54

Not all children are more critical than we think. I was bright, but I'd had a very "do as you're told" upbringing and took everything at face value till mid-teens at the earliest.

If I'd read "Poor George she really thinks she's as good as a boy" in the Famous Five (which I think I did) I would absolutely taken that to mean - or add to the other evidence I'd absorbed - that girls were inferior.

I really do think children need a bit of protection, not all parents spend the time talking through these things.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Tue 15-Oct-13 15:07:52

My fave was the Five Find-Outers series. The Five Find-Outers were a bunch of middle class kids (their families all had servants) whose leader was called 'Fatty'. The youngest girl was called Bets. 'Fatty' used a 'special voice' to speak to her because she was so young and a girl.

A working class boy called Ern was allowed to be a part-time member of their group as his father (the village policeman, who was working class) was awful and was treated as a laughing-stock. Ern was allowed to read out his 'pomes' (he couldn't pronounce the word 'poem' because he was working class and therefore couldn't talk properly) to the other FFOs in order to be patronised to death. The policeman's boss, the Superintendent, who used to pop up at the end of each story to congratulate Fatty & co on another success, was middle class and well spoken, so he was OK.

At the time, I didn't understand why Enid Blyton books had been removed from local libraries (1970s), so we swelled the coffers of her estate by buying the cheap paperback versions available en masse instead.

They really were opium for the masses. Surely there are better children's stories around today?!?

catandbabyequalschaos Tue 15-Oct-13 15:08:05

Project, I was much the same!

The thing about George that annoys me is that it isn't just that she enjoys doing "boyish" things but also LOOKS like a boy and has a boy's name.

It's also fine for girls to look like girls and be happy to be girls and STILL be brave and want adventures and so on.

Handbagsonnhold Tue 15-Oct-13 15:13:47

I adored reading E B especially the Naughtiest girl in the school series.... I used to dream about what 'tuck' I'd put in my box and midnight feasts etc!.....I hope my dd can enjoy them just as much as I did.....

curlew Tue 15-Oct-13 15:14:34

An don't forget, George was "almost as good as a boy"..........hmm

Honestly. Dump them. They're crap.

I loved all Enid Blyton books and read them over and over again. Faraway tree was a favourite. I didn't read any sexism or racist comments in them. I think I turned out ok.

However I loved the Malory towers and st Clares books and went off to boarding school thinking it would be great fun, midnight swims and stink bombs in the French lessons. Sadly it was nothing like it. Massive disappointment.

My mum did tell me when I was reading and loving the books that they had been banned some years before. When I asked why she said it was do do with the lashings of ginger beer?! I can imagine now what she was trying to tell me.

Yes I will let dc read them, but they are set so long ago now, it will all seem like a historical novel rather than real life.

projectbabyweight Tue 15-Oct-13 15:15:38

Agree. This sort of thing is important, it's seeping into young minds.

moondog Tue 15-Oct-13 15:15:59

I had tuck and a special box.
Not as much as some of the other girls though.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now