Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Importance of An Author in Nature

Image taken from the Enid Blyton Society
I was quite shocked to hear that my favourite childhood author, Enid Blyton, has some rather strong critics. I recently found out that in the 1990's, some of her books were banned from libraries as some of her writing was considered 'racist' or 'sexist'. I must admit that reading some of my old time favourites in this currently 'PC' obsessed society, I can see the problem. However, I think that we would do well to take into account the times in which she lived and the cultural 'norms' at the time.


As a child, I cannot say that any of these adult 'concerns' EVER entered my mind while reading her books. A generation on and my daughter has not ever come to me and said, 'Mom. I do feel that perhaps Peter is a little condescending to Janet! She should have equal rights!' No, in fact, Enid Blyton has become her favourite author and she is fast become my youngest's favourite too.


I wondered what it was about Enid Blyton that made her works so appealing to thousands of children. I think that each book/series almost needs to be looked at on it's own and merited for it's own appeal. For instance, 'The Magic Faraway Tree', the thought that ordinary children, living pretty ordinary lives and having to complete ordinary tasks around the home to help out - having extraordinary adventures in magical lands with fairy folk just fed my imagination. Going on adventures with the 'Famous Five' and the 'Secret Seven' was filled with excitement and adventure. The freedom that the children had and the assurance that all would end well, whatever the pickle, was appealing. Even her 'fairy-tales' such as 'Flip and Binkle Bunny' was and is dear to my heart because her love of nature shines through so strongly.


I want to take a closer look at this little collection of 'Flip and Binkle' books. What made this so special to me? It is quite clearly complete fantasy, yet it drew me right into 'Oak Tree Town' to share in the naughty things these bunnies got up to.

I think in all of her books, but especially this collection, Enid's love and passion for nature shone through. Her vivid descriptions of 'Bumble Bee Common', of hedgerows ripe with blackberries, of clear blue skies and lazy hazy afternoons and the many talking animals, created a picture and deep love of England in the heart of a little girl in Africa.

It was Enid's vivid descriptions and clear love of this beautiful land that made me determined as a young girl - not older than 7 - that this was a land where I wanted to live. I am BLESSED to be living here now. As my eye rests on hedgerows, fields surrounded by ancient stonewalls and patchwork countryside, I feel at home, and I do believe that it because Enid's love of nature and of her land was evident in all her books. The picture created is the picture indeed.



It was not until 2011 that I came across Enid Blytons Nature books. Suddenly it all fell into place. Nature was  very important to this author, and it shone through in all her work! Her Nature lovers series are ideal 'living book' to use with young children. A beautiful way to introduce them to the wonders of the natural world.

When Barb sent out an email asking for recommendations of books where nature plays a prominent part, my mind immediately leapt to Enid. I have to confess that it is only while doing a bit of research into her nature books specifically that I have come to realise how many of these books she has actually written! I am thrilled of course. The Ambleside online Charlotte Mason curriculum often recommends Thornton Burgess' lovely books to be used in nature study for younger children.


A few months ago someone in England was asking if there was anything in a similar vein but relevant for us here in Great Britain. Well, there is! I almost want to say ,'I wish I had known about these when my children were younger.' But the child in me says, 'So what? Just because we are a bit older, why can't we peruse these beautiful books?'

So, they have duly been added to the 'wish list' I'm all for keeping the magic of childhood and wonder of discovery alive for as long as possible! 


As a child, I did not read any of the wonderful nature books you see in this post. but the love of nature was caught early, just from the obvious passion and love Enid had for nature and the countryside. Her love for nature comes through all her stories, like little golden threads, spinning a precious and valuable heritage than can be caught, just by opening the cover of one of her many tales. I do believe that this author has impacted my life in ways I never thought!

So even if you decided not to use these nature specific books, I do believe that by simply reading and introducing Enid Blytons' many wonderful stories to your children, that a love of nature and countryside will begin to grow in your child's heart that will dwell in them for decades to come.

So do I agree with all Enid Blytons critics? Not a chance! I feel that they are poorer for not seeing the value of her work and have deeply underestimated the impact that her work has had in the lives of millions of children all over the world!

3 comments:

  1. Lovely post Shirley. Have you read "Rainbow Garden" by Patricia M. St John? She is one of my favourite authors from my childhood. If you haven't already read it, then I think that you and your girls will love it. xx

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  2. Thank you so much for this entry and all the wonderful book recommendations. I enjoyed reading your thoughts too and I am happy to include it in the upcoming OHC Newsletter.

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  3. Benedict absolutely loves the famous five and secret seven books and we also have the hedgerow tales too.

    I think most schools have banned her presence in the classroom and school library which is a shame... one of the upsides to home schooling though is choosing your own books!

    San x

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