A huge portion of my early childhood memories is rather patchy and fuzzy where I barely recall the names and faces of my kindergarten classmates or teachers. But the one thing that still stayed on with me from that period was the stories by Enid Blyton.
I could proudly say I grew up with Blyton’s characters who accompanied me from my adolescence years well into my mid-elementary school years because her stories had varying levels of difficulty that catered to a wide group of readers.
Younger readers might find her fantasy stories about pixies, gnomes and fairies more appealing for they are much shorter and have straightforward plots usually to convey certain moral messages.
A story I remembered is about a forgetful girl who always misplaced her things and one fine day, as usual, she did not remember to sew a hole in her pocket. As a result, she dropped a shiny shilling given by her mum for her to buy goodies she liked. Lessons like this are often simple but useful as a platform to educate young children.
Older readers might find her detective or boarding school stories more interesting; some of my top picks would include the Famous Five, Secret Seven and Naughtiest Girl series. They have more developed plots and complex characters but still spiced with fun, adventure and excitement, the perfect ingredients to keep kids going on book after book.
For myself, Blyton opened up my young impressionable mind to different worlds, worlds that were magical and also culturally different. For instance, boarding schools are not common options in Singapore because for a tiny island like ours, my elementary school was only a 15-minute walk away from home. Yet through the Malory Towers series, I knew more about how other children lived in other parts of the world.
As compared to watching cartoon, her stories left children much room for imagination and creative thinking. I conjured images about how Moon-face and Saucepan Man from the Faraway Tree series might look like and what color would an elf’s clothes be. In my mind, elves were never as raggedy as Dobby in Harry Potter or as suave as Legolas in Lord of The Rings. Rather, they were diminutive in stature, slender with sharp ears and friendly almond eyes wearing green clothes.
After more than a decade of outgrowing Blyton’s books, I am truly and deeply impressed that she was able to articulate thoughts suitable for a child. Being a writer or author, it is imperative to write in a way clearly understood by the readers. As such, children authors need to simplify their thoughts and articulate using vocabulary and grammar appropriate for different age groups. As an adult, one could imagine the difficulties to be a children’s author, much less a successful and timeless one for requires us to stop thinking like a grownup and adopt the children’s psyche.
As a side note, prior to working on this blog post, I used to assume that Blyton was a white British male and was pleasantly surprised find out she was a white, British mother of two daughters who lived from 1897 to 1968. Although her stories were penned more than 50 years ago, they remain entertaining even for today’s children, making her an evergreen author.
Did you read Enid Blyton’s books when you were young? Share some of your experiences here with us!
Up coming next in the line of childhood authors who would be featured here would be the creator of the chocolate guru Willy Wonka. Stay tuned!