Enid Blyton Removed From School Library

I have happy memories of my grandfather reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five as I sat on his knee. As a child it never crossed my mind that Blyton’s books could be construed as being racist. Today however a number of reprints of the author’s works have been published with certain words and passages having been amended to avoid giving offence. Today’s Daily Mail has an article concerning a school who removed Blyton’s books from it’s shelves, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2519806/Enid-Blyton-Famous-Five-childrens-classics-axed-school-win-race-equality-award.html. If you read the entire article it becomes clear that most of the books which where deemed to be unacceptable have been replaced by versions with the language which some deem offensive, having been removed.

Racism is ugly and it is right and proper that children are taught that all ethnic groups possess equal worth and everyone, irrespective of their origin should be treated with respect. Having said that, would it not be possible for teachers, parents etc to explain the historical context in which Blyton was writing to youngsters, explaining that words and phrases which where once deemed acceptable are now (rightly) not so deemed. Blyton as with Kipling was a product of her time. Even great authors such as Dickens used language which we now view as unacceptable, for example his reference to “the jew” in Oliver Twist. I love Dickens, Kipling and Blyton, however to say this does not imply that I or any other reader shares their views on race or any other issue. We need, as I said above to judge authors in accordance with the historical context in which they wrote. Obviously it is easier for adults to make such judgements but, with sensitive and appropriate explanation it ought to be possible for children to continue to enjoy The Famous Five.

8 thoughts on “Enid Blyton Removed From School Library

  1. sknicholls

    I feel that a book , new or old, should be written within the context of the history of its time. I wrote a 20th century historical fiction, and I could not have made it authentic without “Negro Speak”. I have mixed race family members and am highly oppositional to racism/prejudice, but history, harsh or soft, is history, and children should be taught the truth. I agree, a book like Blyton’s or even Uncle Remus can be read and explained in it’s context. Children are a lot smarter than most are willing to believe.

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thank you for your comment which is particularly interesting given your background and that of your family. I would be interested in checking out your book, can you please let me have details? Many thanks, Kevin

      Reply
      1. sknicholls

        Sure Kevin it is on sale at Amazon right now for $2.99 for the eversion and the paperback is just out at $10.80. It is not a children’s book.

        “Red Clay and Roses” started out with the intention of taking old notes that I had from college and creating a story out of them. I did not sit down with the intent of writing a novel or selling books. So it is not exactly in a novel template format. There is a first part in first person, and a second part in third person.

        It is a true story fictionalized, and all of the characters were real people…though a few I never met. I only have their stories, which all came from octogenarians at the times their stories were recorded. It is a Historical Faction more than Fiction.

  2. Eagle-Eyed Editor

    It could backfire. By banning the book, children in that school may become curious and read the book anyway.

    I agree that you have to consider the author and the historical context. I should think it would be better to leave the Enid Blyton books as they are, then use the books as a point for a thoughtful class discussion.

    I don’t care for racism but I do acknowledge that it exists. Kids aren’t stupid and they need to be properly prepared to handle all of life’s situations. *wry smile*

    Reply
  3. Insider

    The books removed were old stock that had been sat boxed in a storeroom for a number of years. They were texts that are no longer available, even from the publisher, as some of the language in them were deemed no longer appropriate in 2013.

    The school did not merely remove a batch of books by a particular author but were looking at the content, condition and relevance of a wide selection of reading materials to ensure pupils of the school were not encountering inappropriate material.

    Reply

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